The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-charge Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

Some have thought that science and religion do not work well together. The Bible might describe something one way and scientific discovery see it another way. For example, was creation a six day process with God resting the seventh day? (Genesis 1:1-2:3) Or is the creation of the universe an evolutionary process going back approximately 13.7 billion years ago with creation still in process? Where is there compatibility in these two explanations?

Both disciplines are trying to discover the truth about the human experience. We want to know about physical life and the spiritual life that are both a part of our experience. Sometimes these disciplines overlap, but if we find a conflict it is an opportunity to reexamine our theories and learn from the experience. If you thought that the stories in the Book of Genesis are scientific fact, then you have to adjust your thinking to realize that those who told those stories had no scientific background and were simply trying to give God credit for being the Creator. God can still be the Creator even if Big Bang Cosmology is a more accurate explanation. Who set off the Big Bang? Was it an accident with nothing to cause it? Is God an old man sitting on a throne somewhere in the universe; or is God the Ground of our Being; the Ultimate Source; or simply Mystery?

When science rejects the existence of God, as Stephen Hawking did, he and others were probably rejecting a God we don’t believe in either. God didn’t wave a magic wand, and low and behold there was a cow. Scientific discoveries know this isn’t true. But science usually doesn’t ask the bigger questions of the unseen realities of the spiritual life that are such an important part of our lives. Someone may have discovered how the brain recognizes the emotion of Love, but how does it recognize this as primary value of what it means to be a human being? This truth can only be verified by experience. Some speak of God not in human terms but as Love with a capital “L”. Giving life meaning is often the role of religion.

The best example of how science and religion can be paired together was given by the English physicist, Sir William Bragg. He wrote: “From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.”

Fear not science or religion. They can go hand in hand to grasp the experience of life.