Science vs. religion is not an ‘either/or’ issue

Evolution versus creation. Science versus religion. Biology versus the Bible. We never quite shake off the old debate.

This month (July) 80 years ago, the Scopes Trial in Tennessee was supposed to be the ultimate showdown, the trial of the century, the battle for truth between fact and faith.

It inspired movies, books and legends. But it solved nothing.

Even today, the evolution conflict rages in a dozen states, dividing school boards, teachers and believers over whether the biblical story of creation in Genesis should have scientific status.

What dominates is a lot of "either/or" thinking. Either evolution is right, or the Bible is right.

But as I read it, the Bible refuses to fit the precise demands of 21st century debaters. Psalm 100 says, "Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." God made us, no "scientific" details provided. But the main point stands: God is creator and redeemer.

When I read Genesis, I read the world's most convincing testimony to the human condition under God, not chapter one of a microbiology textbook. The Bible tells me God is creator of all truth. There is no need to fear scientific discussion and discovery.

Science depends constantly on new evidence, fresh research, better hypotheses. So evolution remains just a theory, though a useful one. Darwin's evolutionary theory is barely 150 years old — not a long time in human history. No scientist should take it as gospel, because any theory is bound to change with new discoveries. How long will evolution hold up as an explanation of human origins? Another 150 years? Does anyone actually believe it will still be the favored theory 1,000 years from now?

Yet people will still be reading and telling the story of Genesis and the rest of Scripture -- the story of our rebellion against God and redemption. That story doesn't change. End of story.

*Ray Waddle, a writer in Nashville, is the author of "Against the Grain: Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes," published by Upper Room Books.

First published in the July-August 2005 edition of Interpreter magazine.


Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Evangelism
The Rev. Tom Berlin (left) presents a copy of his book, “Courage,” to Massachusetts National Guard Chaplain Chad McCabe in the chapel at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. McCabe, whose unit was assigned to help provide security at the U.S. Capitol after the January riot, contacted Wesley Seminary asking for Bibles, novels and board games for troops stationed there. Photo by Lisa Helfert for Wesley Theological Seminary. Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Church responds to chaplain's call to help soldiers

A National Guard chaplain got Bibles, games and 150 copies of a new book about courage when he turned to Wesley Theological Seminary for help keeping soldiers occupied in Washington in the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection.
Violence
The Rev. William B. Lawrence.  Photo by H. Jackson/Southern Methodist University.

What would Jesus tell the US Capitol rioters?

The Rev. William B. Lawrence examines the claims of Scriptural authority by violent protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Local Church
A view of the United States House of Representatives chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

31 United Methodists serve in 117th Congress

United Methodists serve on both sides of the aisle in a Congress faced with repairing a highly polarized country and responding to violence at the Capitol.