Are Christianity and Science Incompatible?

What follows is a lengthy paper addressing the relationship between science and Christianity, specifically focusing on evolution and creationism. For an abridged version, see here.

April 6, 2015

Introduction

            A recent research project revealed that a major reason young people leave the church is the tension between science and faith. According to this report, 29% of 18- to 29-year-olds who currently or formerly attended church believe “churches are out of step with the scientific world we living” and 25% feel that “Christianity is anti-science”.[1] Different people have tried to explain this tension, hoping to either ease or increase it. Stephen Jay Gould coined the term “non-overlapping magesteria” stating that science and religion addressed two completely different spheres: facts and values, respectively.[2] Richard Dawkins pushed back, claiming that the truth is, the magesteria are nearly completely overlapping.[3] That is, there are some things that only one or the other addresses, but essentially, science and religion are answering the same questions from two different perspectives, and one is wrong. Denis Alexander holds a more moderate view dubbed “non-overlapping levels of explanation”, that is, science and religion look at “the same reality from different perspectives”.[4]

            Which perspective is true? Are religion and science involved in a winner-take-all death match? Or is it possible that science and religion, and Christianity in particular, are two compatible ways of looking at the world? This paper seeks to clarify the answer to this question through three main approaches. First, we will clarify what is meant by both “Christianity” and “science”. When definitions are unclear, the lines of conflict are also blurred. Second, we will attempt to engage the evidence regarding the diversity of life by examining the fossil record. Finally, we will engage with a viewpoint called evolutionary creationism, attempting to unveil whether this view is merely a compromise or if it is truly the best way to explain the evidence, and just so happens to unify biblical Christianity and evolution. Continue reading “Are Christianity and Science Incompatible?”