2009 marked both the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s telescope and the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, two events that lead to revolutionary breakthroughs in our understanding of the world. With these scientific discoveries fresh in our minds – as well as the many new ones made this year – it is little wonder that many have also spent 2009 pondering how science relates to faith.
In his editorial for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, William P. Brown, professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, offers his thoughts on where the futures of science and faith are headed. As Brown notes, both science and the Bible reflect on “the natural world’s complexity and humanity’s inseparable relationship to it.” In fact, Brown writes that many often overlook our earthly origins entirely, focusing only on the divine components of creation.
Science, then, can help us to focus on different aspects of our existence. According to Brown, “Science has done an incredible service to the faithful: it has enhanced our capacity to wonder. That capacity, according to bioanthropologist Melvin Konner, is ‘the hallmark of our species.’” Not only can wonder lead to new scientific discoveries, it can also inspire our religious thinking.
“As I thank God for the glorious, life-sustaining world in which we live, I also remember with gratitude Galileo and Darwin. They have revealed a few of the great wonders of God’s ‘other book.’ May it continue to be read with care.”