Last Sunday I preached a sermon entitled “Cosmos.” My scripture text was the first chapter of Genesis, but the topic was prompted by the recent television show “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” hosted by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The 2014 show is a remake of Carl Sagan’s 1980 PBS series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.”
I have some reservations about the new series, which I shared in a previous blog (Disappointing Cosmos). But my love for science overcame my distaste for the anti-religious bias that ran throughout the series. I watched every episode. The story of the origin of the universe and life on earth has always filled me with awe. It is a spiritual experience for me.
Therefore it was natural for me to preach about it from the pulpit. Although I did not directly address the creationism-evolution debate, it was clear to members of my congregation that I was not a young earth, seven-day creationist. I believe in the biblical doctrine of Creation, not the modern "science” of Creationism.
The point of my sermon (and every sermon ought to have at least one) is that there is no contradiction between science and religion. At least there should not be any disagreement. In actuality there has been much conflict between the two from the very beginning of modern science.
Nowhere is that disagreement more pronounced than in the area of origins – both cosmic and human. My sermon prompted more than the usual number of comments, both immediately afterwards and in the week following the service. One man pronounced me “brave” to preach such a sermon.
The ongoing discussion of this topic in my congregation has caused me to ponder more thoroughly the relationship between faith and science. I have come to the conclusion that the key element of a Christian understanding of science is to view Nature as Holy Scripture, which is read in the language of science.
God spoke the Old Testament in Hebrew. He spoke the New Testament in Greek. He spoke – and continues to speak - the Oldest Testament in Creation itself. God recorded the history of the earth in the rocks. He recorded the origins of life in the fossil record and DNA. He recorded the origins of the universe in light captured by the Hubble telescope. God speaks to us through science.
The only way we can understand the Biblical account of creation correctly is by interpreting it in light of the older revelation of God in Nature. The Biblical revelation cannot contradict the Original revelation. If our interpretation of Genesis contradicts known scientific facts, then we are interpreting Scripture wrongly.
The authority of Scripture is important for Christians. We call it the Word of God. The Word of God recorded in Nature should be just as authoritative for Christians. To reject the voice of God in creation is to reject the authority of the Creator.