How should a Christian approach SCIENCE?

June 18, 2019

How should a Christian approach science? Is science something a Christian should be uncomfortable with? Is it a threat against his or her faith? Also, do Orthodox Christians agree with the concept of blind faith? Did the Early Church live a blind Christianity? I believe that there is room for some realignment in our Christian approach to the scientific world and hopefully I can shed some light on this topic in this video.


To consider science as a threat is the same as thinking that God Himself is a threat because God, after all, is the ultimate scientist. He created and established science. Unfortunately, in the last decades many non-Orthodox Christian groups declared war on science—or to be more accurate declared war on particular scientific fields. This war stemmed from certain misunderstandings. But as Orthodox Christians, we should not be afraid of science but learn how to engage with it appropriately. God willing, I will discuss these misunderstandings and how to engage with science more thoroughly in the next videos in this series on Christianity and science, but for now, it must be clear that the one thing we need to shy away from, especially in today’s western society, is the concept of blind faith. Our Christian faith is not blind. When Christ told St. Thomas “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” He meant that it is fitting to have faith. And those that have faith will be blessed. But faith is not the same as blind faith. St. Thomas certainly didn’t have blind faith having spent three and half years with Christ seeing all the miracles, even performing miracles himself, and hearing Christ speaking of His upcoming death and resurrection. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” St. Paul says. And “hope that is seen is not hope.” In other words, you cannot have faith or hope in something you see. So faith and hope imply not seeing what you hope for. But since you are born in the image of God, He gave you a mind to think. Faith therefore uses this mind to hope for the spiritual things that are not seen; however, blind faith cancels the mind God has given you. Blind faith means believing although what you perceive doesn’t make sense. Or believing just for the sake of believing without the necessary efforts of searching and experiencing God. Blind faith essentially cancels the search for the truth—the search for God Himself. In other words, a blind faith in atheism will continue leading to atheism and only atheism. A blind faith in a specific religion will keep the person within that religion regardless if it is the true one or not. As ambassadors for the Truth found in Christ, we, as Orthodox Christians, encourage reasonable faith—not a blind one. Those who hold the Truth fear nothing.


When we look at how the early Church Fathers lived Christianity, we can clearly see that they did not adopt the concept of blind faith. On the contrary, they were extraordinary systematic theologians, and they didn’t shy away from embracing philosophy and science and they were able to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together when they perceived philosophy and science from a Christian lens. For example, did you know that St. Justin Martyr, who was born a pagan in the year 100 AD, did not remove his philosopher’s cloak after baptism. Actually, he believed that it was only after his baptism that he was worthy to wear it, now that he has found the Truth in Christ. Now, he is a true philosopher, a true lover of wisdom in Christ. At a time, when clergy didn’t yet wear a distinctive garb, Justin proudly wore the philosopher’s cloak. Similarly, St. Clement of Alexandria, born to a pagan family around the year 150 AD, esteemed philosophy very much, although he understood its limits. Being the disciple of his great master St. Pantaenus, who was a convert to Christianity from the Stoic school of philosophy, St. Clement essentially believed that philosophy guided people to the truth of God. In his work Stromata, Book 1, chapter 5, he says: “Accordingly, before the advent of the Lord, philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness. And now it becomes conducive to piety; being a kind of preparatory training to those who attain to faith through demonstration…For God is the cause of all good things; but of some primarily, as of the Old and the New Testament; and of others by consequence, as philosophy. Perchance, too, philosophy was given to the Greeks directly and primarily, till the Lord should call the Greeks. For this was a schoolmaster to bring ‘the Hellenic mind,’ as the law, the Hebrews, ‘to Christ.’ Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ.” We can see clearly how he positively approached philosophy through the Christian lens. St. Basil also, in his hexameron, a detailed work on the six days of creation, uses the science of his time as a means to demonstrate the truth and beauty of God and how a Christian ought to live. He was a master rhetorician and his sermons led many to repentance.  Similarly, the famous catechetical school of Alexandria used to teach many subjects in addition to Christian theology. Subjects like astronomy, mathematics, physics, and philosophy. All of these, seen through a Christian lens, manifested the truth of God and helped the students in sharing their faith with their friends. The Early Church’s approach was therefore not to shun science but to understand it through the lens of Christianity. I have to be extremely clear; however, that sometimes science is used in immoral ways against the ethics of God. As Christians, we do not accept such use. Science, like everything else, can be used for the good or the bad by the free will of man. We need to differentiate that although science could be used in a bad way, science itself is not evil—it is good.


So Christianity and science are not at odds with each other but actually complement each other. Both together answer the 4 essential questions of who, why, how and what. Christianity, with its Holy Tradition including the Bible answers who is God, who is a human being, and why were we created. These questions cannot be answered by science. Science answers what is the universe, what is a human being made of, how did the universe come to be, etc. So science answers the what and how but has no authority on the who and why. Similarly, the purpose of Christianity is not to answer the what and how. The Bible is not a scientific book in any way. We will discuss in a later video some details concerning the little science that we find in the Bible, but for now it is important to understand that this science that is found in the Bible is used for the sake of answering the questions who and why. Again, in no way, does the Bible aim to answer scientific questions. However, there is one major difference between science and Christianity. Christianity is a revelation from God. God announces who He is, who we are as humans and why we were created. And since, this is a revelation from the All-Powerful, All-Knowing and Timeless God, this revelation does not change. It is constant. Scientific knowledge, on the other hand, is progressively being discovered by humans. Science is therefore evolving as humans are finding new ways to understand the world around us. So science varies but God’s revelation does not. As a consequence, Christians of every generation are faced with new scientific discoveries and theological discussions must take place to investigate these discoveries. Some discoveries are founded, some others are not. Some discoveries lead to ethical technological advancements, some others are unethical. As Christians in the 21st century, we need to have these discussions. The answer is not in shying away from science. The true answer is to adopt the methodology of the Church Fathers and to engage with science in the light of Christ.

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