Science can help us understand faith

This post takes a different angle on the interaction of science and faith. I find it interesting that science can actually help us toward a deeper understanding of faith. For example, Jesus calls the faithful the “salt of the Earth”. Other than being a metaphor for personal purity, what else could this mean? Science tells us that salt is made of sodium and chloride, which are elements of completely different properties that are toxic or volatile in themselves, but when chemically bonded together make a substance essential for life. Possibly one meaning for “salt of the Earth” is for us to act in like fashion, bonding with people who are very different from us, which is
something that has been lost in many churches as we often seek others of like mind. However, one of the reasons that Jesus got into so much trouble was that he befriended “tax collectors and sinners”, making bonding with those very different from him a major characteristic of his ministry. If we did likewise, wouldn’t that make faith communities that much more inviting to others? A truly inclusionary and welcoming church, as this metaphor suggests, would really be what Jesus was talking about and exemplifying. Diversity and inclusion is clearly relevant in today’s world. There are other Biblical metaphors where science is useful in coming to a deeper understanding, but I would like to guage others’ interest in the topic as well.


Depends on what kind of i think

Stay with me Brent. The meaning you bring in your metaphor isn’t miraculously coded in the ancient text. The ancients knew nothing of sodium and chlorine. But your conclusion is nonetheless correct. The Church is supposed to be completely inclusive. I know just one fellowship that is in all of the UK. Do you know of any?

Love this sentiment, and welcome to the forum!

It may not have been the original intent of the author, but I think it’s a great conclusion to draw in today’s world.

I personally feel like much of the American church is all about looking like you have it all together, and that yes, that does hinder the inclusion. My favorite church that does inclusion well though is House For All Sinners and Saints, affectionately nicknamed HFASS (pronounced half-a*s), in Denver, CO, founded by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Most notably, it has a tremendous addiction recoveree population, and is known as a church for “misfits” and people normal church might look at and reject.


Star Trek does a better job of including marginalized people groups. It all started with the Original Series, when a Black woman played a star fleet officer. Before this, Black people were only portrayed in menial jobs, such as cooks. Further iterations of Star Trek have continued the trend, including one vilified group we aren’t even allowed to mention.

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Happy New Year!

It’s true that the authors of the Gospels were writing for their contemporary audiences and most likely didn’t consider scientific concepts or how readers would respond to their writings 1,900+ years later. I believe that Scripture has authority for the present as well, but needs to be interpreted within modern contexts. Accordingly, when applying the Bible to modern life, I think integrating modern scientific principles and discoveries in that interpretation is beneficial, particularly when applied to Biblical metaphors such as “salt” and “light”, which can have, by design, more than one interpretation (in fact, the physical properties of light can also add an extra dimension of understanding that metaphor as well). I realize that this is a rather unorthodox integration of science and faith, and we need to be careful with these applications, but to the extent that it can bring to the forefront some principles that might otherwise be less emphasized (such as diversity and inclusion above), I think that looking at the possible lessons that nature and science provides for enhancing spiritual understanding in this fashion is worth a further look. :slight_smile:

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Happy New Year Brent, I think you’re are onto something here :blush:

It wasn’t always like this. If you go back to the 18th century evangelicals, especially the Wesley’s and Johnathan Edwards, they were inspired by the new science.
If you watch right through to the Q/A he gives a plug for Francis Collins

One of my favorite sermons/small books is The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond (1851-1897). He was a theologian in the Free Church of Scotland, a lecturer in natural science who embraced most of Darwin’s conclusions and an evangelist with the DL Moody mission in Britian. The forward to the book is by DL Moody “I was staying with a party of friends in a country house during my visit to England in 1884. On Sunday evening as we sat around the fire, they asked me to read and expound some portion of Scripture. Being tired after the services of the day, I told them to ask Henry Drummond, who was one of the party. After some urging he drew a small Testament from his hip pocket, opened it at the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and began to speak on the subject of love. It seemed to me that I had never heard anything so beautiful…” Drummond, Henry. The Greatest Thing in the World, Experience the Enduring Power of Love (p. 3). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Here is a link to listen to it read.
In the Analysis of Love (14th to 40th minute) he brilliantly uses metaphors from science.

Hmmm … I don’t suppose you mean Q.

No, not Q.    

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I particularly like Henry Drummond’s comparison of love to light. Just as a prism shows us the components of light, Scripture shows us that love has specific components as well. Since Scripture calls us to be “lights” to the world, that makes sense.

I also have another analogy involving light. One way light is generated, such as in a laser, is through “stimulated emission”. Electrons in a material absorb energy to go to a higher state, then emit a photon of light when the electron returns to the original state. To keep emitting light, a material needs to go through continuous phases of excitation (absorbing energy) and emission (releasing energy). Therefore, to extend the analogy, if we are to act as “light”, we need to both absorb energy (receiving from others) and give energy (from giving to others). Therefore, we should seek a balance in giving and receiving. Although “giving is better than receiving” in that it is through giving of our time and talents to others where we “emit light”, if we do not allow ourselves to receive from others, we risk running out of light. I think that for many Christians, receiving from others is difficult, since we feel like we should constantly give. This can lead to “compassion fatigue” or “burnout”, which this metaphor shows to be a normal human condition rather than a result of a character or spiritual flaw. Allowing ourselves to receive from others as well is therefore critical to our spiritual growth and life balance. I think of the front-line health care workers treating COVID patients, who haven’t had a day off in months. Or the schoolteachers who have to adapt to giving in person classes, as well as on-line classes, all the while that their own children are home all day. These are examples of those who desperately need to receive as well lest their light dims or goes out. So if you know any of these heroes personally, by all means give them your time and energy so that they may receive from us as well and keep going on their difficult journeys. Another way we can give to them is to use scientific principles to stay as safe as possible and take the vaccine (when it is our turn) to ease the pandemic burden and show that there is a “light” at the tunnel’s end.


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