Day1 Faith & Science Series: Scott Hoezee -- How Do Faith & Science Relate?

The Rev. Scott Hoezee


For a long time now I have been struck by a Bible-wide theme that focuses on the wonders and glories of God's physical creation.   But it's not just that the Bible celebrates the beauties of the cosmos in places like the Psalms-after all, you'd expect religious poetry to talk about soaring mountains and twinkling stars.  No, what is really striking is how often a focus on the physical world crops up in connection to deeply vital theological themes (where you might not expect it to crop up at all).

For instance, the whole Book of Job is one long wrestling match with one of the biggest theological questions of them all: why is there evil in the world?  Why do good people suffer?   But when the book finally ends and God breaks his long silence, what we get is not some philosophical, academic treatment of the matter at hand.  Instead we get a tour of the universe, from storehouses where God keeps all the snow to stork nests up on mountains to wild donkeys cavorting in the desert.   Job asks, "Why do I suffer?" and God replies, "Take a gander at my hippopotamus!"  

Or in Romans 8 Paul is at once celebrating the fact that in Christ we have no more condemnation for our sins while also pondering how we can hold on to this good news even though for now we suffer in this life.  But here, too, long about the time you'd expect Paul to stay focused on just God and people, he suddenly brings in every creature in the world and pictures field mice and yellow-rumped warblers as being as eager for God's final restoration of the world as anyone else.

Or in Colossians 1 [the focus of my sermon on Day1]: Paul is explicating one of the deepest of all theological mysteries in terms of the identity of Christ.   Big and complex doctrines like the Trinity and the Incarnation and the two natures of Christ are all in the neighborhood here yet instead of just focusing on ideas and concepts, Paul again sees the big picture of how this all involves every creature under heaven and every rock, star, goldfish, zebra, or tulip you could name.

This happens again and again in the Bible.   The biblical writers in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures had no concept of "science" as we now know it in the modern world.   But insofar as science is at bottom the art of discovery, of looking at the world, of marveling at how things work, biblical writers knew all about such things and they again and again saw the physical world as intimately connected to every faith-related topic out there.

Today we often wonder if science and faith can have much to do with each other.   Well, across the whole sweep of the Bible the answer is that they do indeed have a lot to do with each other.  In fact, it looks like the one leads to the other in ways that are as natural as they are beautiful.


The Day1 Faith & Science Series project was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in these documents are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.