As a Christian, I’m totally fascinated by science the more I learn about it. But I have seen how Christians seem to get up in arms and wholesale disagree with science, and at the same time the scientific community displaying Christians as archaic, old fashioned fairy-tale believers. And that makes me sad because both of those subjects are such huge passions for me, and I have almost never come across something in science that disagrees with my faith.
So, on to Cosmos – Episode One.
I think the longest duration that I watched the Superbowl this year was the 1 minute promo for the reboot of Cosmos. I had recently discovered the Carl Sagan version of it and devoured it over a weekend. Plus I love Neil deGrasse Tyson and cooler special effects of the universe are awesome. So the day appeared on the internet, we all excitedly gathered around the computer to watch. Maybe I was the only excited one, but my family humors me mostly.
Tyson starts out with saying that the history of science and astronomy is fascinating and was built with pioneers with great imaginations but also adhered to a strict set of rules -
Test ideas by experiment and observation
Build on those ideas that pass the test
Reject the ones that fail
Follow the evidence wherever it leads
I’m cool with that. I’m cool with questioning both science and the Bible. Both theologians and scientists are constantly trying to look at things through new eyes, testing ideas with how they see the world and coming up with new theories. The Bible doesn’t change, and technically neither does science. But as a culture, we change. Five hundred years ago we didn’t know about germs and thought that slavery was perfectly okay. Today we know better. That wasn’t a change in science or in the Bible, but a change in us. So questioning everything makes us better and stronger, not skeptics.
The first “scientist” story that Tyson goes into is Giordano Bruno, who had a dream that the universe was infinite and then started preaching that, which eventually got him burned at the stake. That is what the show said, but the thing about Bruno was that he wasn’t a scientist, he was a monk who had a dream. Admittedly a cool dream, and definitely intuitive, but that was not why he was martyred. He also quit the monastery, quit believing in Jesus’ divinity, and started believing in reincarnation. Not that I condone burning at the stake or anything, but it was not for science. There was a different guy, Copernicus, who really was a scientist, and also believed that the earth revolved around the sun, who didn’t publish his findings until his deathbed in order to avoid persecution. But as far as my 20 minutes of Googling, I can not find any instance where the church put someone to death for their belief in science. Of course, if any of you find someone, I will gladly amend this post Question everything, after all, even me (don’t tell Brent that).
The next part that Tyson gets into is the age of the universe and origin of life. Which is, according to scientific research – 13.798 billion years, give or take 37 million years. I can get behind this too, personally. I believe that God created everything. I believe that God created the Big Bang and flung the stars into the universe. It just took a really really long time. Some people say that there is a (big) time delay between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. I personally think that about 9 billion years after God said “go!” there was a planet out there that was formless and empty and dark. And God broke out his canvas again and painted life all over it. I personally don’t care if it took a billion years or not. I know God did it, and I believe His hand was all over it and guiding it. He can take his time if He wants.
I want to quick touch on the “death before the fall” thing. Because that was a huge roadblock for me. Young earth creationists say that God couldn’t have created life over billions of years because He said that the earth was good and there was no death before Eve at that fruit. But I don’t buy that. We don’t know there was no death for other creatures. We also don’t know how long Adam and Eve lived in the garden before succumbing to temptation. Mayflies only live for a day or two at most. So they all lived infinitely? Plus the circle of life *is* good. The ways the seasons change and leaves die and are composted and the bugs eat the dead animals and the symbiosis of every living creature is a beautiful and meticulous thing. God created the earth as good. The way it is now is good. Genesis 2 only says that humans would experience death if sin came into the world.
Which brings me to the one and only thing that I disagree with science on. I believe that humans are spiritual creatures, created by God for his relationship and pleasure. We are like the animals in chemistry, DNA, and physics, but drastically different in spirit. We can think, reason, choose, invent, create, speak, record, believe, and question. We are part of this world but not of this world. God created us differently, special to him and to this earth. The Bible is a guideline for our lives, but I don’t think it gives enough detail for us to make scientific conjectures. But that’s what our good and beautiful brains are for.
So I strayed a little from the Cosmos Episode – but if you watched it, you realize I didn’t. Tyson talks about the universe and how it came to be, and how we came to be. And just because we disagree how it got here doesn’t make it any less of God’s good and perfect creation.