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.

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