Reflections on Reconciling Science and Faith

For many years I struggled with combining science and faith. I preferred the “hard” sciences such as physics and chemistry, and when I completed my Bachelor of Science I had minimal understanding of the relationship between science and Christianity. During my twenties I became aware that this relationship was an issue for many Christians, particularly in respect to evolution which impacts on the understanding of the place of humanity in the world. This became an issue for me too when talking to people who understood evolution and faith to be irreconcilable, so I started seeking a better understanding of evolution and how it relates to science.

Through reading books and learning from people I have come to find a place for evolution within God’s creation. Several books have been particularly helpful. Francis Collins is a leading scientist who was head of the Human Genome project and his book The Language of God defused many of my concerns. The first part of David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God reminded me of the otherness, power and sustaining presence of God in the whole creation. Denis Alexander’s Creation or Evolution has a great description of evolution and counters many of the objections to evolution.

I commissioned a painting to express this truce between science and faith. It expresses the strength and beauty that come from valuing both. This synthesis is expressed allegorically by the circular yellow fruit of the White Cedar tree on the left joining with the spiky flowers of the Silky Oak tree on the right to create musical notes in the central Moreton Bay Fig tree, forming the theme of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Ode to Joy. The painting expresses some of the benefits that arise from this synthesis. The extinct Tasmanian Tiger is a symbol of resurrection and hope. The platypus playing in the foreground express joy and the doves represent peace. There are bright rain drops falling through rainbow colours onto all the trees since God provides for all people.

Valuing science and faith has enabled me to fully appreciate the wonders of the natural world and the creativity of our God. The presentations that ISCAST give to young people about the harmony between science and Christianity are a great way to remove a barrier to their faith and enable them to share in the benefits of what both science and faith have to offer.

Paul Mattiske

Paul is an ISCAST Associate.