February 27, 2024

Throughout the century, the archetypes of “the man of science” and “the man of faith” have been pitted against each other: the believer versus the skeptic. While there are certainly believers and scientists who are at odds with each other, this has not always been the case. Throughout most of history and still today, facts and faith go hand-in-hand.

The separation of science and faith is new. While scientific discoveries have caused disagreements within the church and between religious officials and scientists. like Galileo’s conflict with the church at the discovery that the earth revolved around the sun, this was an internal disagreement among people of the same faith, disagreeing on how to interpret available information, not two opposing forces divorced from each other.

As a Christian institution, California Baptist University integrates the practices of science and faith, and teachers are encouraged to talk about how science relates to Christianity.

Dr. James Buchholz, professor of mathematics and physics, said he does not believe in “the conflict model.” Instead, he said he believes in the “dialogue model.” The conflict model says science and faith are at odds with each other and that they contradict each other. The dialogue model, however, suggests the two should work together.

Buchholz said that he always saw science and religion in harmony with each other and that science was another way to learn about God’s creation and, by extension, God himself. It was not until he went to graduate school that he was confronted with people who could not understand this way of
thinking.

“It took me forever to figure out these two guys in grad school that constantly attacked me had assumed I was a ‘gap theorist,’ which I learned later meant that I believe the gap theory — the theory that the only need for a God is to fill in the gaps that science doesn’t explain, and I never thought that way my entire life,” Buchholz said.

Sophia Neagu, sophomore biology major, said her CBU science teachers make a point to incorporate faith into their teachings.

“Dr. Bonjun Koo has been really good with just incorporating faith into everything,” Neagu said. “Praying and setting aside time to just reflect on how God created a cell and how that is tied to us, or I remember he said something about how some people can’t use the restroom on their own, they can’t eat on their own and how God has gifted us the grace to be able to (help them with) that and how lucky we are as people to do that.”

Neagu said she thinks the world’s outlook on science and religion in our culture has changed vastly.

“I think that ties into the worldview,” Neagu said. “Our world today has evolved into something completely different than that, moral-wise. It’s freeing but at the same time, not really, because everyone says, ‘Oh if you don’t agree with this particular kind of thinking, then you’re not right.’ I think that it’s definitely changed and gone a little overboard.”

Chris Colmer, sophomore political science major, said he thinks science and religion can go together.

“Historically, up until very recently, most prominent scientists did believe in God, and they viewed science as a way to prove the existence of God,” Colmer said. “Isaac Newton, famously, was a Christian. So I would say that I reject the notion that religion and science are
incompatible.”

Colmer also said many concepts that people often say contradict what the Bible says do not contradict it as much as they believe if they looked into it deeper.

“A lot of Christians have made the point that the Bible’s creation account doesn’t necessarily contradict astrophysicists’ theories about the creation of the universe,” Colmer said. “A big bang exploding from a singularity could have easily produced a great amount of light.”

Buchholz said that for his 25th teaching anniversary, he received a framed portion of the Bible that contains Romans 1:20, and it is hanging on the wall of his office. The passage talks about how God is evident in his creation.

Romans 1:20 reads, “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, so that people are without excuse.”

Buchholz said that Galileo took Romans 1:20 seriously and incorporated it into how he approached science.

“Galileo took this Romans 1:20 and he said, ‘Look there’s the two-book worldview. God wrote Scripture, but also God wrote nature. And so there’s two books there, and you should read them both,’ and he said there has to be some coherence between these two because
they were made by the same author.”

Buchholz said that although humans wrote the Bible, they were inspired by God. And just as religious scholars could misinterpret the Scriptures, so can scientists misinterpret scientific evidence. Humanity is fallible, but ultimately science and faith should complement each other.

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