Science and Faith at War?

May 25, 2010

Does science undermine or corroborate belief in God? Does faith suppress or inspire scientific research?

Dr. Vern S. Poythress, Westminster professor of N.T. Interpretation and editor of The Westminster Theological Journal , is uniquely qualified to speak to these questions since he holds doctoral degrees in Mathematics from Harvard and in Theology from the University of Stellenbosch. The author of Redeeming Science, he spoke at this year's Science and Faith Conference (DVD coming soon) on A Biblical View of Science and Nature.

"Does Religion Fear Science?"

by Vern S. Poythress, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Westminster Theological Seminary

Do we love science or fear it?

Dan Brown's book Angels and Demons draws us in by its fast-moving plot. But it also contains fascinating examples of our modern struggles to come to terms with science. Ambivalent attitudes come to the surface as we read.

On the one hand, we admire the progress of science, the almost magical character of some of its great achievements. It offers the power not only to understand the world but to spin off technological products like high-speed jets and retinal pattern identifiers.

On the other hand, we fear science. Will it get out of bounds? Memories of the Frankenstein monster and mad scientists and the atomic bomb rise in our minds. And even if the scientists are decent people, will their pride or their secrecy or their desire for achievement push them? Will they, like father and daughter Vetra, make risky judgments that end up endangering the world?

The most haunting image comes from near the end of Brown's book. Will the son, whose artificial insemination symbolically represents the science spawned in our modern world, be able to come to terms with himself and with science? Or will he destroy the father, who can symbolically represent the Western civilization that spawned him? Will the son destroy himself as well?