June 29, 2021

God Versus Health Science

Do we have to choose?

Peter N. Landless & Zeno L. Charles-Marcel

Q: Health-science reports often conflict with each other and with God; isn’t it better just to trust God and leave science alone?

A: Please, don’t be dismayed—God loves us and desires that we know Him, whom to know is eternal life. He does not leave us ignorant (1 Cor. 10:1-6). He gave us all a deeply held fascination with the natural world and has embedded His reality in our hearts (Rom. 1:20). So, yes! Trust God and love Him with all your heart. Contemplate His handiwork; seek Him and find Him and marvel at His greatness, power, and loving-kindness!

Science and technology are crucial to nearly everything we do from health to wealth. Erroneous understanding of God and scientific observations, or both, leads to apparent discord. Incorrect inferences from both Scripture and scientific research contribute to our present crisis in credibility.

Since both nature and revelation proceed from the same Mastermind and bear testimony to the same great truths, improved scientific and biblical literacy are needed. Science is progressive; as we learn more, we discard prior erroneous concepts. Conflicting reports in health science—and all sciences, for that matter—arise from misunderstanding the evidence; funding pressures; poorly designed studies; inaccurate analyses and interpretations; and inaccurate, sensational, or misleading headlines reporting findings that serve dubious agendas and corporate or political advantage. Well-designed, well-executed, appropriately analyzed, and correctly interpreted studies illuminate God’s Word and teach us about how He works.

Incorrect inferences from both Scripture and scientific research contribute to our present crisis in credibility.

Science and religion, as they are commonly taught and practiced, are imperfect. Disputes between theological and scientific viewpoints in the United States are partially fueled by a growing distrust of experts and human agencies in general, and by the widening societal, ideological gaps in lifestyle and worldview.

Yet there’s a larger, global sociocultural issue of which the science-theology struggle is but a part. Its flames are fanned by social, political, economic, commercial, religious, and educational forces that attempt to frame their own “truth.” Biblical reality, however, is painted on the canvas of the great controversy’s age-old opposition: truth versus error. God is not a health scientist; He created what truth-seeking scientists seek to uncover. God should never be pitted against true science.

Consider this: “The study of the sciences is not to be neglected. . . . God is the author of science. Scientific research opens to the mind vast fields of thought and information, enabling us to see God in His created works. Ignorance may try to support skepticism by appealing to science; but instead of upholding skepticism, true science contributes fresh evidences of the wisdom and power of God. Rightly understood, science and the Written Word agree, and each sheds light on the other. Together they lead us to God by teaching us something of the wise and beneficent laws through which He works.”*

We recognize that especially in today’s stressful climate, good decisions demand accurate, trustworthy information. But don’t abandon science; instead, increase both your scientific and biblical literacy.

Whether a person is a scientist, theologian, or layperson, truth wins!

* Ellen G. White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1913), p. 426.

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.