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Archive for Saturday, February 11, 2006

How can the Bible give insights into current scientific debates?

February 11, 2006

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Dealing with mysteries beyond our knowledge

The Rev. Vicki Penner, chaplain, Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, 1429 Kasold Drive:

If the scientific debate is limited to evolution vs. creationism (or intelligent design), we are off the mark.

The current scientific debate is really about how the universe started. Science has one view. But we limit ourselves if we believe that religion has only one view, too. In reality, there are many religions who have various stories and traditions about how the universe began.

Rather than pushing the stories from the Bible into a scientific mode, we need to take the Bible on its own terms. The Bible is an example of religious evolution and the human understanding of God - or the Ultimate. The Ultimate is not just the physical reality that science studies but also the movement of the spirit of life.

The Bible is a record-keeping of how Israel and then the followers of Christ understood that Spirit which could not be measured. It keeps surprising us and pulls us into the future.

Taken on these terms, the Bible can inspire us to remain open scientifically. Scientific thought evolves, too. Once we thought the world was flat. Now we understand the world is round. Once Newton's mechanization of the world seemed rational. Now we struggle to understand the implications of Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and chaos theory.

Humanity has always dealt with the mystery beyond our current knowledge. Religion, done well, helps us to live meaningfully in that ultimate mystery. Science does well to realize that even while we know a lot, we may never know everything.

- Send e-mail to Vicki Penner at vickipenner@sunflower.com.

To be open to truth is to be open to the creator

Rod Hinkle, minister, North Lawrence Christian Church, 647 Elm St.:

The Bible encourages people to treat those who disagree with respect and civility.

Jesus said, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

Obviously, there has been considerable name-calling and denigration in this debate, so that the smoke has obscured the light. And the Bible declares, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil." (Romans 12:17) So no matter how loud the defamation gets, one side will not respond in kind.

The Bible states, "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7) So Christians are always seeking truth, whether in the natural world or in revealed truth, as in the word of God.

Some of the greatest scientists in the history of the western world were Christians intrigued by a search for truth. Galileo, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, as people of faith, were superinquisitive about the natural universe.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made...." (Romans 1:20) The more we know about nature, the more we stand in awe of its creator.

Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32)

To be open to truth, whether spiritual or natural truth, is to be open to the creator. Speaking of Jesus, the Bible says, "All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:3) So we will decrease the volume and increase the understanding.

- Send e-mail to Rod Hinkle at preachrod45@aol.com.

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