Creation Sabbath, which this year takes place October 22, is a day of celebration, when the world church family places a special emphasis on creation-related themes, activities, and reflections. Throughout the day, there are often opportunities for sharing perspectives in small discussion groups. If you are organizing or leading one such discussion, this article provides you with an outline, followed by a short quiz for those who enjoy a fun challenge. Faith and science are the themes chosen for this discussion, because creation unites our love and worship of the invisible God with the admiration and study of the visible things He made.
At the beginning of the discussion, address the need to define what we mean by the words “faith” and “science.” A lot has been written on this topic, so we will not attempt a formal definition. For the purpose of this discussion, we will use “faith” to represent a commitment, deep trust, and conviction, and “science” to indicate knowledge based on observation and the exploration of physical evidence.
Guide the group in discussing three biblical passages that touch on the relationship between empirical evidence and faith.
a. Gideon the experimentalist (Judges 6:36-40)
In the episode of the fleece, Gideon is seeking confirmation through the observation of a physical outcome: “If … , then … ” Does Gideon’s hypothesis-testing approach to faith make you uncomfortable? Why did Gideon feel the need to reconfigure his initial setup in the second run of his experiment?
b. Seeing and believing (John 20:24-29; 1 John 1:1-3)
Thomas required an empirical test to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. This is often presented with a negative connotation, as a sign of incredulity or immature faith. However, the opening passage of John’s first epistle stresses the importance of seeing and touching the Word of God. What then, was the issue with Thomas’ demands?
c. Facts vs fabrications (2 Peter 1:16-18)
Peter anchors the reliability of his testimony on being an eyewitness of Jesus’ majesty. How do you establish the truth about events that you have not experienced directly?
Help the group reflect on some implicit convictions we have about science, and the way in which they manifest in our lives.
a. Uniformity of laws
Our personal and collective experience reveals the existence of fundamental regularities in the physical world, named “natural laws” because of their consistency. We trust in the continuity of these laws when we make plans and predictions about the future. Can you think of some examples of everyday behaviors that depend on this trust?
b. The “scientific community”
The exponential growth of scientific knowledge in the information age makes it impossible to have direct and detailed expertise in multiple fields of study. However, we have learned to rely on the interaction and collaboration of other individuals for the delivery of technology and services. Can you think of some practical examples of your reliance on the collective scientific expertise?
c. A positive outlook
We also have implicit faith in the value of empirical knowledge and in the accessibility of the natural world when searching for creative solutions to uncertainties and problems. This is the reason why innovative companies invest in research and development. What are some examples in your own life that have affirmed your confidence in understanding your environment and creatively interacting with it?
End by remarking on the beautiful interlocking of tangible and intangible, seen and unseen, as it relates to faith and science. Today, Christ encounters us in the material to reveal to us the immaterial (John 3:11-15).