Updated: May 25, 2020
“Our solar system may be seen as a picture of the relationship of Jesus Christ to His church. Jesus, the Son, is represented by the sun; the sun is the source of energy and light to the earth and the suns gravitational field holds the earth (as well as the other planets) in place. The earth represents the sinful world with the side opposite the sun in darkness and the other in the full light of the sun. The moon represents the church providing light to the dark side of the world; the moon is not the source of the light but a reflector of the light from the sun. When the moon is not present on the dark side, the stars, as a source of light still witness the light of God so that there is no excuse" (J. Newton Fleming).
This excerpt was taken from a 2016 article written by J. Newton Fleming, titled, “God, Gravity, and Newton,” which discusses Isaac Newton’s views on God and the reflection of Newton’s views on his work as a scientist. This article relates many of Newton’s scientific investigations and discoveries to biblical scriptures, such as his most popular study on energy, which state, “In physics and chemistry, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant; it is said to be conserved over time. This law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another” (Fleming 2016). Newton’s findings could be paralleled with Creation in the book of Genesis, which states that God created light (energy) and that this light (or energy), has remained a constant force throughout existence, never leaving, but ever-changing. I have investigated the secular question of whether science contradicts the Bible or is it merely humanity’s frail attempts to explain the mind of God.
The divide between skeptics and believers still exists today, which Alister McGrath, a Northern Irish theologian, priest, intellectual historian, scientist, Christian apologist, and public intellectual, mentions in his interview with Christopher Reese in Christianity Today by stating, “The relationship between Christianity and science is hotly debated, and both believers and skeptics have appealed to Albert Einstein to buttress their positions. Believers point to Einstein’s many references to God, while skeptics note his rejection of revealed religion (man-made)” (Reese 2019). In our own search for truth and understanding, it is safe to say that a great deal of humility is needed to leave room for the inevitable possibility that we could be wrong. It seems that for many scientists who made revolutionary discoveries about the complexities of our universe, such as Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and even Albert Einstein, their investigations seemed to lead them to an understanding of God and our existence that challenged the views of their time. In Christopher Reese’s interview of Alister McGrath on the relationship between science and the Bible, McGrath states, “Some prominent intellectuals still hold to the idea that Christianity and science are natural enemies, even though historians of science largely reject that characterization” (Reese 2019).
The redundancy of an ongoing debate on how our universe came to be and the theories of how the world works is exhausting, to say the least. Is the theory of evolution true, or was this world created by our Almighty Father whom exists outside of space and time? Does science contradict the Bible, or does it attempt to comprehend and explain the mind of God? In Galileo’s “Letter to The Grand Duchess Christina, he boldly exposes the opposition and ridicule that he received from academic philosophers, professors, and the church for his unquenchable thirst for the truth when he writes, “First, they have endeavored to spread the opinion that such propositions, in general, are contrary to the Bible and are consequently damnable and heretical” (Andrea, 108). Galileo’s thirst led him to seek the truth through investigating the interpretations of scriptures in the Bible, to gain an understanding beyond blindly believing what was taught by church leaders and philosophers from the Bible. In doing so, he was able to affirm many biblical teachings, which consequently contradicted the long-held teachings of Ptolemy and Aristotle by proving their misinterpretation of the Bible. Galileo reproves his skeptics by stating, “To this end, they hurled various charges and published numerous writings filled with vain arguments, and they made the grave mistake of sprinkling these with passages taken from places in the Bible which they had failed to understand properly, and which were ill-suited to their purposes” (Andrea, 108). From Galileo’s statement, it is clear that the human interpretations and understandings of biblical scriptures could be easily influenced by our own motives, whether these intentions were pure or insidious. Galileo’s discovery of the inevitability of human error, both past and present, should prompt us to investigate all beliefs and views about this world, which would lead the greatly admired philosophers and professors to make the most difficult admission in the world, that they were wrong.
In my World History class text, A History of World Societies, McKay describes Galileo’s quest for the truth by stating, “Galileo’s achievement was the elaboration and consolidation of the experimental method. That is, rather than speculate about what might or should happen, Galileo conducted controlled experiments to find out what actually did happen” (McKay, 529). At the risk of being wrong, Galileo’s investigations to understand the world and the Bible, not only challenged his own Catholic beliefs, but attributed to the divide of skeptics and believers in the debate throughout ages of the relationship between science and the Bible. McKay writes, “A new method of learning and investigating was being developed, in which scholars relied more on observable evidence and critical thinking than on established authority” (McKay, 530). Galileo’s radical thinking did come with a price, which McKay mentions, “In 1633, Galileo was tried for heresy by the papal Inquisition. Imprisoned and threatened with torture, the aging Galileo was forced to recant his statements and discoveries, “renouncing and cursing” his rebellious thinking and “Copernican errors” (McKay, 530).
In conclusion, my research into a few sources explore the thought processes of revolutionary scientists, like Galileo, Newton, and Einstein in their controversial theories of the relationship between science and the Bible. The discoveries yielded from the scientists’ experiments and investigations also revealed the fallacy of prideful ignorance and the desire to be right, which exceeded the desire for the TRUTH that Galileo describes when he states, “Showing a greater fondness for their own opinions than for the truth, they sought to deny and disprove the new things which, if they had cared to look for themselves, their own senses would have demonstrated to them” (Andrea, 108). In our pride and our inability to accept being wrong, mankind misses the opportunity to learn by being unteachable.
Andrea, Alfred and James Overfield. The Human Record: Sources of Global History, Volume I to 1500. 5th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2012. ISBN 9780618370412.
Fleming, J. Newton. “God, Gravity, and Newton.” Newton's Notes, 22 Aug. 2018, newtonnotes.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/god-gravity-and-newton/.
McKay, John P. et al. A History of World Societies Volume 2: Since 1450 9th ed. Boston: St. Martin’s Press, 2012. ISBN 9780312666934.
Reese, Christopher. “Alister McGrath: Both Science and Stories Declare God's Glory.” ChristianityToday.com, Christianity Today, 9 Jan. 2020, www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/december-web-only/alister-mcgrath-science-and-stories-declare-gods-glory.html.