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As a Christian, how do I reconcile stories from the Bible with current scientific thought?

Perhaps a better way of phrasing this question is to ask whether the Bible intends to provide an accurate historical account of happenings in the universe. The Bible itself answers that question within the first two chapters of the first book. Genesis is an account of the origin of a people of God, and it begins with a story about the creation of all things, including the heavens and the earth, and humankind. Having created all things, God rested on the seventh day. However, immediately following the first creation story (Gen 1:1-2:3), the Bible relates a second story about the creation of humankind (Gen 2:4-24).

The inclusion of both of these stories at the very beginning of the Bible shows us that the book is not meant to convey an historical reckoning of every event of creation. The Bible contains many stories that contradict each other, and that very fact tells us something important. Through the stories, the Bible provides us with ways of interpreting the actions of God and the continuous creative energy of God in the universe. Thus, the creation and other etymological stories are not meant to be taken as factual accounts of how things came about, but are meant to convey some interpretations of God's importance to the warp and woof of the fabric of creation.

The Bible teaches us that God is present in the world and yet is also the Lord over the ongoing creative process. The scientific method provides a way to obtain verifiable factual information about how nature works and the laws that govern natural phenomena. In a very real sense, science provides us with insights into the beauty and brilliant interconnectedness of physical, chemical, and biological events.

Modern scientific thought and stories from the Bible both tell us that there is freedom in the universe, and that things work within the confines of the laws of nature as best we currently understand them. Science helps us appreciate more and more that our understanding of the laws that govern matter and energy is provisional. That is because science empirically tests its understanding of those laws and revises them in accordance with new observations and discoveries.

There is not a disjunction or disagreement between Biblical stories and current scientific thought about the universe. They are paths that strive to seek Truth. Science works to inform us about the "how" of the creative process, and Bible stories and religion itself help us to interpret the purposefulness of the "what" and the "why" of creation to our lives. Science often employs deductive reasoning to solve its problems, whereas the Bible stories make us look into ourselves to a point where we 'feel' at both a cognitive and emotional level that we understand something fundamentally true.

A good example of this is the notion of love. Most people have at one time or another in their lives been in love. It is an emotion that is difficult to adequately describe, yet it is a profoundly true thing. It is something that cannot be proven in a rigorous scientific way, yet it is something that we cherish and are willing to fight and die for. Such truths can be stimulated and nurtured by Bible stories—for they have a way of stimulating our hearts and intuition like no other.

Over the past seventy years, scientific disciplines that were once thought to be entirely separate from one another have been shown to be very interdependent. It is impossible in cell biology, for example, to fully comprehend anything without weaving together strands of biochemistry, genetics, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. The pieces of the scientific puzzle—each providing empirical information about aspects of nature—converge to yield new insights about life and the creative process itself. And that convergence provides the receptive mind and open heart with a deeper appreciation of the divine and the sanctity of creation.

The Rev. Canon William Stroop, Ph.D.



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