Students of the Bible say the Bible is many things: the Bible is a book of history, it is a book of poetry, and it is a book of prophecy. It is a Book of testimony as the New Testament reveals the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth, the deeds He did while on earth and the work His Apostles continued to do after He returned to His Father.
One of the major ongoing battles in our world today is between the segment of Christians who believe that the Bible is a science textbook and people who think it is not.
I don’t think that it is.
Pastor Adam Hamilton in his book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White begins his chapters on science and the Bible by recounting the famous story of Galileo, who lived in the 17th century in Italy and discovered the idea that the earth was not the center of the universe.
This discovery rocked the world in Galileo’s day and especially the Christian world, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo was charged with heresy and was brought before the Roman Catholic Church’s Inquisition. He was asked to repudiate his ideas because they challenged Scripture.
Here Pastor Hamilton makes his major point.
The church made a big mistake. Church leaders evaluated a scientific theory based on the literal reading of scripture.
Was Galileo correct?
Of course he was.
No scientist today holds to the idea that the earth is the center of the universe. We know that the sun is the center of our universe.
How is this episode in the history of mankind relevant to anything that is going on today?
Christians are still making this mistake.
Today our world is grappling with new science that seeks to explain why things happen. How we handle this new knowledge is very important.
I believe that God wants man to use his mind to study, explore and try to explain. God gave man this ability for a reason. Let me give you an example from everyday life. Say you are facing a medical problem and you require surgery or some medical procedure that requires current medical technology to overcome your problem. Would you turn down the chance you have for a better life? Would you deny that doctors could cure you by using the technology they have available?
Or would you accept their knowledge and ask God to guide them as they seek to heal your body?
I think I know what most Christians would do.
Recently, I saw something I figured I would never see. I saw glaciers.
The local guides that commented on the glaciers explained what has happened to them. They stated that the glaciers are “retreating” or losing their length and have been doing so for some time. Since 1958 the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau Alaska has lost 1.75 miles of its length. They report that it will continue to lose its length in the foreseeable future.
They skirted the hot issue of “climate change”.
I realize that climate change does not exactly parallel the discovery of Galileo but it rankles many Christians because in Genesis it states that God has given man the world and God expects us to care for it. Climate change science says we are not.
It is hard to discuss such a complex issue in a short blog post but the basics of climate change are the byproducts of fossil fuel consumption have changed the earth’s atmosphere, causing increased warming that results in glacier melt [among other things]. Ashley Portero in her online article entitled “What Do Christians Have Against Climate Science?” cites climate scientist and Christian evangelical Katherine Hayhoe. Hayhoe is the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University and she is in the middle of this debate. She states “increased education is needed to refute the perception that combating climate change — through investments in renewable energy and a reduction of fossil fuels — will be worse than the problem itself. We tend to prefer the status quo, but it’s like Alcoholics Anonymous — the first step is admitting there is a problem. Admitting that we, as a nation, are addicted to fossil fuels.”
Admitting that we as a nation are hurting our earth.
Do Christians push back against science? Yes they do.
They did it in the 17th century and some are doing it today.
Instead of trying to fix a problem, it is much easier to turn a blind eye to it. Instead of trying to fix a problem it is much easier to attribute it to “other causes”.
Even though Alaskan guides are instructed to avoid the hot button issue of climate change, the US Forest Service has written material that does not.
“The US Forest Service, which manages the Mendenhall Glacier, says ‘because glaciers are a product of climate, they respond to climate change.’ The Mendenhall Glacier has been in retreat since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 1700s. In a joint article for the Juneau Empire Geologist Cathy Connor and Geophysicist Roman Motyka, both professors of the University of Alaska said “climatic warming coupled with ice loss through iceberg calving are the reasons the Mendenhall Glacier is retreating and shrinking.” [“Wikipedia”, Mendenhall Glacier].
The statistics don’t seem initially to make sense, Hayhoe said. “Unless you’re living someplace like Alaska, where glaciers are obviously melting, we don’t necessarily see climate change directly occurring.”
Make a trip to Alaska. See the melt and then say it is not real. See the melt and then say that science is all wrong.
Maybe as Christians we should accept the problem, try to understand the science and then use our God-given gifts to find workable solutions.