Blog June 16th – Is there a conflict between Science and Christianity ? Part 3

“You Have Opened Our Minds” featuring the London Touring Cast – Risen! The Musical at the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

You Are My Rock featuring Lucy Rutherford from the album “For Unsung Heroes” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

Last week I finished by saying that in Genesis, the focus is on the “why” and by “whom” rather than the “how” – so there is no conflict with science. This week I would like to explore this point still further.

Stephen Gaukroger in his book “It Makes Sense” says that science makes observations, carries out experiments, formulates hypotheses, tests them, defines them and then produces a theory which it believes best explains the facts. It is trying to get at the truth as to “how” our world works. But science only offers one aspect of the truth. For example a scientist could say that playing a violin is “rubbing the entrails of a dead sheep with the hairs of a dead horse” and the facts would be described accurately- but not all the facts. You would not be answering “why” the music is enjoyable and “why” the violinist is playing at all. Strictly speaking science can only answer the “how” questions not the “why.”

Gaukroger goes on to say :

This is an important fact to grasp. To the question why is the grass burning a scientist could answer by talking about the presence of oxygen, the combustible nature of grass and so on but this is an explanation of “what” is happening not “why”. The answer to the “why” question could be that a cigarette was carelessly discarded or a farmer was clearing his waste ground. It is precisely in this “why” area that Christianity has so much to say. Science cannot help us with issues such as right and wrong, beauty, peace, joy and love. These subjects do not yield their secrets to the laboratory or the study. God cannot be put under a microscope or the Christian faith examined in a test tube. These things are beyond the scope of scientific enquiry.

Next week I will look at scientists who are also Christian/ Christians who are also scientists. Can I make a start? – Isaac Newton – yes the apple – gravity and all that!