It’s another Friday and time to kick off a 5 week series of posts about Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith. Painting the Stars is a short-term study that gets participants to critically examine the intersection, and reconciliation, of science and faith. Our first session was this past Tuesday, and just like Jesus Freak, I’ll blog my thoughts and reflections on the videos/readings each week. Up first: Toward Healing the Rift.
This first section started with a bang, jumping right in with the following statement from Bruce Sanguin: “Any credible spiritual path, including Christianity, must be in an honest conversation with science if it is to be relevant in the 21st century.” And I agree with it whole heartedly. Sanguin goes on to say, “We cannot naively proceed, for example, as though the pre-modern assumptions that informed biblical writers and editors can be applied today without significant interpretation.” I think this gets to one of the biggest obstacles in the science/religion debate: people talk as if what we know about evolution, the earth, and other “basic” scientific knowledge should have been common knowledge at the time of the Old and New Testaments. Once we get past the notion that the biblical worldview was drastically different, scientifically, we can begin to see how science and religion enhance and deepen each other.
Just like Jesus Freak, there is so much more than can be talked about in one post (or in one 1.5 hour class!). Since this is the first reflection on Painting the Stars, I think we’ll focus on Thomas Berry. Something I believe is crucial when attempting to reconcile science and religion is context. Understanding the Bible means understanding what it was like to be an ancient Jew, to live in a society awaiting the Messiah, and to survive in a harsh environment. When we take statements and stories out of context, part of the story is lost. Thomas Berry articulates this beautifully when he says, “To tell the story of anything, you must tell the story of everything.” When we tell the story of everything, we see where things fit together rather than rub up against each other. Science and Christianity are two narratives, each telling their part of the story. When we are able to get past page one and read the whole book, we see how our scientific understanding of the world cultivates our religious understanding of the world. When we tell the story of everything, we learn so much more.
I want to end with the end of the closing prayer for this session. It speaks not just to Christians but to anyone who feels a divine something at work in the world.
To all that is,
and to all that could be
through the power of the presence
within all things,
we say, Amen.
Come back next week for more science, faith, and the story of everything.