[reasons they leave #3] church antagonism towards science

Written by Keviana Elliot

So. I live in Texas. Lubbock, Texas. It’s a lovely city that captured my heart years ago with its flat disposition, un-humidity, and beautiful winds. I also like it here because this is where God has drawn me closer to Him. My world here consists of my family, a roommate, a church family, and a job. (God is a given. I wouldn’t be alive today if not for Him. He’s my everything.) Please note, I am happily single. I am content waiting for the Lord to ready me for marriage, if that’s in His will (and I hope it is!). God has given me plenty to keep my hands busy for the here and now; I don’t have to worry about the future. Jer. 29:11, right?

October 28, 2011

[serialposts]“God, why is the sky blue?”

I was eighteen when I finally asked Him; not relying on the answers that I was taught all my life in school. His reply ended up being more deeply touching and radical than anything I’d ever heard, and, from that moment on, I felt in my heart that He had created it all. My brain no longer got in the way. That was the first time that my “science and God thoughts” weren’t a struggle for me, because I sure wondered before. Hundreds of times.

Growing up in a church setting usually means that science and God are not talked about together very often. I was never taught anything in Sunday School outside of the Bible, and so, because I never heard the Periodic Table of Elements or other assorted science “school talk” there, I guess I assumed they were separate subjects. God here, science there: they do not mix. Sadly, in my own personal walk, it took God showing me, Himself, that science and loving Him could go together: that in loving Him, and in being curious, searching for answers, and listening to arguments, my faith would be grown.

In the recent study released by Barna Group, it’s revealed that one of the reasons teens and young adults become disconnected from church is because they view the church as being antagonistic toward science. That resonates with me, because I’ve been there. I’ve been the young person wondering why.

My question today is, “how can things change?” Can young people discover that God and science do go together? Can we hear more about the sciences in church services? Can there be more teachers encouraging young people to look for answers?

As a twenty-eight-year-old, it doesn’t upset me that my church experience was relatively devoid of these conversations, but it does make me want to see change. Those searching need not be left believing that there is no place for science in a relationship with the Creator. As the church, we cannot be afraid. The God that created all most definitely can defend Himself.

Where can the change begin?

Letting God Lead the Way

Perhaps the first place change can begin is by not digging our feet in, but by allowing God to lead the way in feeling differently about science. The sciences in a secular setting show us some pretty amazing things. Consider snowflakes, stars, volcanoes, osmosis, DNA, string theory, human vocal chords, gravity, earthquakes, animal and marine life, magnets, and physics.

Really, the science arena that brings about the most inner angst for the church (forgive the dramatics) is what has been theorized of and about secularly. And that is not that scary of a place to go. Those who follow Christ should not fear the discussion of theories, because God has already given us answers to guide our explorations. Those rules cannot be broken. He has given us dominion of the Earth and the capacity to explore and wonder.

Perhaps God wants the cultivation of young people who will grow up to be biologists, meta-physicists, engineers, chemists, etc. The best group of people in the Earth today for the job are those that love God. Us. If we neither fear nor dislike science, but embrace God’s view of it, we are able to carry out change. Feeling different about the subject comes from allowing God to change our hearts toward what He has already created.

Engaging in Conversation

Conversation may be the second place to enact change. The Bible obviously gives us science answers that are crisp and easy. Contrast that with a secular humanity who tries to find out where we came from, how to cure cancer, and how far we can go in outer space and it’s quickly noted that secular words towards exploration and research will come against the church’s basic views.

As a simple example, ask a person who isn’t familiar with the Bible about where life came from, and you could get answers varying from theories they’ve been taught all the way to a simple “I don’t know.”  If those in the church say “we don’t know,” it negates the belief in the Bible as being infallible truth.

The answers the Bible gives are black and white, and therefore seems to exclude looking for answers since they’ve already been given. But, there it is: it “seems to exclude.” Both sides can be talked about together. The struggle might be named “Defense for God Himself,” but again, that defense is already in place. Perhaps conversations about science need to look more like playing devil’s advocate.

“I think that life started with The Big Bang.” Secular says.
“Is that so? Who all has suggested that?” Church asks.
“Everybody who’s somebody. All the scientists agree.” Secular boasts.
“One-hundred percent of scientists? I think those numbers are skewed.” Church raises an eyebrow. “Regardless, what if they haven’t seen all the evidence? What if they aren’t looking at all the possibilities? What if they are missing something?”
“They aren’t missing anything! This has been studied for many, many years.” Secular says.
“I’m simply saying, I think you are leaving out some facts. I encourage you to look for answers again. This time, add this to your research.” Church says, placing a Bible on the table.
Secular looks down at the book, and then looks back at Church. “We already did that. A long time ago.”
Church grins. “Do it again. I think you’re missing something.”
“Wait, is this a challenge?” Secular eyes narrow.
“Maybe.” Church’s eyes sparkle. “You know, I like hearing all your theories. I’m just here to make sure you look at all the facts.”

It’s just a little shift in church views: We’re not talking about it versus I’m listening.

Imagine if sermons and small groups chats included inserts of the latest science news, wonders, or puzzles. Not only would it help young people feel safe to ask their questions and state their opinions, but it would also show the grandeur of God’s creativity and how awesome He is.

Showing Support

Finally, what if the church became a form of cheerleader? Young people today need encouragement to be the individuals that God has knit into their DNA. *raises hand* Sometimes I need to hear from someone else that it’s okay for me to be fascinated by words. I’m sure pharmacy techs, budding physicians, future nuclear scientists, and upcoming mathematicians need to hear it in their field of fascination, too.

The highest form of praise for me is when someone older than me takes notice of what I’m interested in and reassures me that God can use me in that area. Churches encourage stay-at-home moms, single parents, business CEOs, and many other much-mentioned professions. Maybe the science realm of professions needs to be cheered on, too. Cheerleading starts with the leaders, and will soon spread to everyone else if they want to be a part.

Conclusion

Between letting God lead how we feel about the sciences, conversing more about the sciences, and cheerleading those that want to explore the sciences hands-on, maybe the change that is needed will begin. Twenty-something’s and teenagers need a place to belong to now. More of us are staying single, more of us are depressed, and more of us feel alone. We need church family. Now is the time, not later, for change.

So. Why is the sky blue? Have you asked Him yet? This is what He told me:

Because. It’s the color of life.

 

-Keviana Elliot

11 Comments

  1. Andy Carlson

    So, when was the last time you had an calm, pleasant, productive conversation with anyone about any topic in any of the sciences? (or art or music, or poetry, or literature for that matter)….With a Christian, a non Christian or anyone…?  When, with in our “circles” of the faith, where they  anything but dogmatic…fact is fact so lets not have any more discussion. To which I respond…God is in all of our sciences (biology, chemistry, engineering  architectural creations  – the physics of design, blending facets of science and math).  In peering into this world of His…we begin to understand the greatness of His creation. If we do not look and observe…we will not be able to use what He has given us.  Why no conversation….I say simple fear…and living in  isolation – minds that have been dulled and closed to the world beyond the halls and wall of the church, of withdrawal from the world around us – of teaching our children the of the “correctness of the written word” without relating to the world around us. As if to say: “wear blinders, look straight ahead”. Time was when all of the major universities (Harvard and the like) were founded by the church. We not only were part of the conversation, we led the conversation. Then…as the world progressed (industrial revolution) and more “secularist” joint the workforce, attended colleges and universities, rather than continuing to participate….we withdrew back into our comfortable protected shell…….and (I repeat) and the world began to pass the church by…we are no longer relevant to the conversation….because we are no longer participants….we have done this to ourselves…to the point criticizing individuals (youth or adults) who have a  bent in that direction….we hold them back (certainly not encouraging or congratulating, or recognizing them in our church body – we only recognize missionaries as doing the “Lords” work – ) for looking in that direction….to understand this, again I encourage the reading of Mark Knoll’s Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.

    Reply
    • Keviana Elliot

      “God is in all of our sciences.” Bingo. If He is as big as He claims He is, then it makes sense that He is the Creator of all that is seen and all that is unseen. I don’t want to think small of Him ever again. And I don’t want to be the reason someone else thinks small of Him.

      Yay for God: He’s awesome!

      Reply
  2. Andy Carlson

    Hello Keviana…I am 64 and I want to personally thank you for your active participation in and appreciation for the arts and sciences.  I think that qualifies me as being “older than you” and supportive.  I have just friend-ed your Facebook page.  I look forward to your words and thoughts.  Thank you for taking the steps into a world beyond the halls and walls of your church..to be in the world but not of the world. Thank you for wanting to participate in the conversations beyond those of our “safety and security home”…Which in reality does not know or understand those of us who venture into those spaces.  I look forward to your writing. I offer you support, encouragement, appreciation and gratitude for sharing your thoughts and insights. My other encouragement is to be sure you have a good accountability person…a friend who will not be hesitant……Peace of the Lord be with you….

    Reply
    • Keviana Elliot

      Mr. Andy, I am pleased to meet you and glad that God put you in my path. Thank you, sincerely, for your encouragement! God bless you.

      Reply
  3. Philip Gray

     As an atheist, I fully support allowing your youth to learn both science and religion.   Society can always stand to gain from more like myself.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      Absolutely… the word definitely needs more prideful critics… 

      I also think that the comment on your Facebook wall about this post is extremely short-sighted because you decided to pick a small statement and take it completely out of context regarding what this post is all about.

      I don’t intend to argue about who is right or who is wrong, especially since I don’t believe that science and religion are actually in conflict (like other well-know agnostics)…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-overlapping_magisteria

      Reply
      • Philip Gray

          Arguing, without violence, is an extremely useful method to find truth regardless what one believes.   I generally find people that aren’t willing to argue their stance either are not prideful enough of it to argue or are not interested on whether their stance is true. 
         Science and religion are naturally diametrically opposed because science resists presumptions while religions are based on presumptions.

        Reply
        • Andy Carlson

          Sounds like an invitation to a conversation to me….good for you….there is always the simple word of faith….conflicting neither science or religion….I trust in our differences we could find common ground…if not on everything….then simply enough to appreciate each other..even in our differences……friendships are not always based on agreements….the issue in this post is not the point of “truth” but to participate in the conversation..rather than withdraw…..there my come a time I do not have an answer…or have no further “statement” to make (for those seeking to “win” their position – on any side)..it means I am not able to form the communicable response…..i think the word is “stumped”….

          Reply
  4. Nikole Hahn

    I don’t think Christians are shy about talking about science. I’ve been skimming the blogs and reading books and watching documentaries and our side is always engaging the other side. Most times, in my opinion, they win. There are many Christian scientists.

    Reply
    • Andy Carlson

      And all of that is good, yet, I ask, why are these conversations not part of our pastoral commentaries or teachings….both from “the church perspective” and it’s encouragement for the membership to participate..

      Reply
  5. Peggy

    I found this article to be interesting.  I watch John Pendleton a lot on TV. He also has a website. He has strong Christian values and uses science to prove that the Bible is true. It is a good program.  Lots if information.

    Reply

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  1. why young christians leave church by Dan King – BibleDude.net - [...] Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science. [...]

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[reasons they leave #3] church antagonism towards science

by Keviana Elliot time to read: 6 min
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