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Science as an act of faith


Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? … “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work … When he established the heavens, I was there … I was beside him, like a master worker … And now, my children, listen to me.”

Proverbs 8:1, 22, 27, 30, 32 New Revised Standard Version


Daniel Gordon

Daniel Gordon

Proverbs 8:1-36 presents us with Lady Wisdom’s call. Faith leads readers to respond.

She cries out to us. She has things to teach us. She can shepherd us to have life, and have it abundantly.

She doesn’t force herself upon us. She allows us to ignore her. She will give us up to the presumptions we make about knowing how our lives should be lived.

But she doesn’t stop calling.

Other than the benefits she promises, though, why should we listen? On what authority does she beckon us? In reply, she claims that God created her: She is a reflection of God’s glory, a creation before other creations. She is a witness, watching God’s every move as he created the world.

She knows what happened, and how. She knows how the world is put together, how it runs and how it is meant to run — all the more so since she is not a passive observer, but a hands-on co-creator, “like a master worker” at God’s side (Proverbs 8:30).

Her hands helped shape our world. She has left her mark. Thus, our study of the world can be an effort to decipher her message to us.

But she doesn’t force herself upon us. She allows us to ignore her. Faith in God responds to Wisdom’s call, despite our uncertainties about what all she may wish to teach us.

Faith is, among other considerations, a basic posture toward two things: the future and the uncertainty that necessarily characterizes the future. Faith in God is faithfulness to God despite the uncertainties of moving into the future in that kind of relationship.

For Christians, science can be an act of faith, a way of answering Wisdom’s call.

Faith in God can positively lead to the scientific study of the world, even though that quest is also marked by uncertainties about what one will find in the future.

For Christians, science can be an act of faith, a way of answering Wisdom’s call.

But she doesn’t force herself upon Christians. She allows Christians to ignore her. By this, I mean to say a few things:

• First, Christians can outright ignore the scientific study of the world. If they do, then they may be ignoring the wisdom that is on offer by learning how God’s world works. As a result, the body of Christ may be setting herself up to look and sound foolish to an onlooking world. (This is not the good kind of foolishness that we find in 1 Corinthians 1-2, the foolishness of the cross.)

• Second, Christians can engage in science but try to protect themselves from uncertainties that come with this way of studying the world. If they do, then instead of ignoring Wisdom’s call, they may be filtering her message so as to avoid her saying things that we might not want to hear. The end result, again, is not a wise church.

Moreover, is such filtering really an act of faith? Maybe, but faith in what? Is it possible that we sometimes put faith in ourselves and our doctrines, instead of putting our faith in a God who is living, moving, and active? Yes, “the revealed things belong to us,” but there are still “secret things” that “belong to the LORD” (Deut 29:29).

• Third, Christians who are not engaged in science can ignore, disregard, and marginalize the Christians who are involved in science. The body of Christ has actually inflicted a lot of personal pain on this front. The very Christians who could most help the body of Christ discern Wisdom’s messages often feel like “aliens” and “strangers”—a new kind of Gentile, a new kind of “uncircumcision” (Ephesians 2:11-12).

• Fourth and finally, Christians can ignore non-Christians who are involved in science. Not only does this undercut evangelism, but it also constitutes a disregard for the people Lady Wisdom may have selected to speak for her.

Is it possible that we sometimes put faith in ourselves and our doctrines, instead of putting our faith in a God who is living, moving, and active?

It’s not that any person doing science can speak God’s wisdom; it’s that if we have made up our minds ahead of time who can and cannot speak God’s wisdom, then chances are quite good that we will miss her message even while the sounds of her message strike our eardrums

Oh God, whose word accomplishes your purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11), give us the eyes to see and the ears to hear the wisdom you wish to offer us and the people through whom you wish to bring us that wisdom. Amen.

DANIEL GORDON has a Doctor of Ministry in Science and Theology and holds the new McClure Professorship of Faith and Science at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. He blogs at danielgordonblog.com.

Filed under: faith and science Opinion opinion Science science and Christianity science and faith Top Stories Views Views

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