Are science and Christianity more compatible than we might realize? I'm doubtful. In this final part of a 3-part series, consider the two remaining shared values, humility and service.

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A Christian scientist says that science and faith aren’t that far apart—indeed, that important traits of science are found within Christianity.

This is a response to an article by Dr. Deborah Haarsma titled, “I am an astrophysicist. I am also a Christian.” She is the president of BioLogos, a Christian advocacy group founded by Francis Collins that tries to coax Christians to accept science. This is the conclusion of a 3-part series (part 1 here).

Haarsma’s concern is that conservative U.S. Christians are pushing back against science’s conclusions about covid, evolution, climate change, and more. I share that concern, but let’s see how plausible her argument is that Christianity has guided modern science. She says, “The historical teachings of Christianity actually support the methods and values of science.”

The first of these values was curiosity and a comprehensible Nature. Let’s move on to the final two, humility and service.

3: Humility

Haarsma says that science requires experimentation, and scientists’ ideas and expectations often crash into reality. Scientists need humility to follow the evidence and accept where they are wrong.

“This approach also fits with Christianity. God creates in ways that humans cannot predict or fully understand (Job 38), so we must continually check our ideas against what we observe in the natural world.”

The previous value was “Belief that nature is comprehensible.” Apparently, the pendulum has swung back, and nature is not comprehensible now.

Let’s grant that the Bible says Christians must be humble, but Christians need to remember that when Christianity collides with science, they need the humility to remember that it’s science that follows the evidence.

In the Bible chapter she references, God mocks Job’s inadequacies. Job was arrogant to question God, and God tells him to know his place. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” God demands. “Tell me, if you understand” (Job 38:4).

That’s just a Bible story. It’s mythology, not history. Christians shouldn’t be humble because they must avoid offending the Big Guy; they should be humble because when Christianity conflicts with science, science wins every time.

Physicist, heal thyself.

4: Service

In this final (supposed) similarity, she points to people in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) who are motivated to help others. And look at Christianity: there you find people dedicated to service as well.

I’ll agree, but I also notice that you don’t have to be a Christian to be dedicated to others. She notes that Luke in the Bible was a physician, but she doesn’t say that being a Christian makes you likelier to be a physician. As with science, medicine has been created by people, and it took enormous amounts of effort. God didn’t lift a finger, which is surprising from a god who apparently cares about our helping others.

“Jesus called his followers to feed the hungry and care for the sick, and there are dozens of stories of Jesus personally healing illness and injury. Fundamentally, Christians serve because we are called to imitate Jesus Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice in giving his life for others.”

Jesus could’ve eliminated cancer but didn’t. Or malaria, or smallpox, or covid. I’m not impressed with Jesus’s service.

As to his sacrifice, first it’s just a story, and second it’s not that impressive when Jesus was immortal and could pop back to life after a couple of days.

Addressing the skeptics

“You may have heard Christians arguing for a young Earth, or seen the trend of tying anti-vaccine rhetoric directly with Christian worship. Such examples grieve me deeply because they don’t reflect the Bible I know and the God I love, or even the majority of Christians.”

The Bible teaches a young earth. When those Christians argue for a young earth, they have Bible verses to back it up. You have the luxury of knowing the answers (praise be to science), so you can reject this Bronze Age young earth myth. Or a flat earth, or a global flood, or stars so small that they can fall to earth. Job 38, which she referenced above, has God ticking off his control of nature, with doors for the sea, storage for light and darkness, and dawn and lightning that answer to him.

See also: The Bible’s Confused Relationship with Science

You’re walking a tightrope, coddling Christians on one hand by celebrating their faith, while pointing out their failings on the other. But you give them too much. Some of Christianity’s positives (hope, comfort) come with unhelpful baggage (gullibility, lack of critical thinking). When a Christian lowers the mental drawbridge to accept miracle claims and mythology, conspiracy thinking and politicians’ agendas can slip in as well.

“Faith and science are both needed to address the challenging questions facing our culture today.”

No, religion has no role to play in uncovering new truths about nature. If you’re saying that religion is an opiate that provides hope and comfort, as Marx argued, I can accept that, but that’s very different than religion as a way to understand the world.

And remember Marx’s point. Yes, religion can comfort, but that risks our dependence on it and ignores what should be our real goal: improving society to make that comfort unnecessary. The salve of religion should be temporary. Don’t focus on sedatives—fix the problem.


You imagine science and Christianity as parallel somehow, two valid paths to truth. But they are not parallel. Science has an outstanding track record, and religion is just superstition and myth.

If you must find a role for religion, a better framework would be Stephen Jay Gould’s non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA). He argued that religion and science both have a lot to say, but they needn’t conflict because they don’t overlap. Evidence in the real world is the domain (magisterium) of science, and comfort, compassion, ethics, community, and the like are the domain of religion.

Religion was not a bad guess when people didn’t know where the sun went at night. Today, it’s no more than a social custom—which can be a good thing, if we see it accurately. When science and religion clash today, it’s irresponsible to give religion a vote on the consensus view. Religion must know its place. Science has earned a seat at the table, but religion has not.

To Dr. Haarsma, I say: physicist, heal thyself. You’re right when you say that Christians are often on the wrong side of science, giving themselves permission to deny climate change, evolution, vaccines, and indeed any science they don’t like. Bravo for pushing back against that. Conservative Christianity has been enslaved by conservative politics. As a scientist and a Christian, you stand a much better chance than me of coaxing conservative Christians into the cold, clear light of reality.

But you say, “Faith and science are both needed to address the challenging questions facing our culture today.” In what world does this make sense?! To the extent that “faith” is permission to ignore the evidence, it’s a problem. When you coddle faith this way, you become part of that problem.

When we remove all the unevidenced beliefs
[from supernatural thinking]
we are left with naturalism.
And when we remove all the unevidenced beliefs
from naturalism,
we are left with naturalism.
— commenter Greg G. 

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CROSS EXAMINED After graduating from MIT, Bob Seidensticker designed digital hardware, and he is a co-contributor to 14 software patents. For more than a decade, he has explored the debate between Christianity...