Clevedon Presbyterian Church
Kawakawa Bay
Clevedon Kidz

Science and faith: Dancing Partners

October 22, 2017
Mark Chapman

So the Bible is not a science book and yet it has the power to speak into the human heart in a more powerful way than science.And I guess why this is important is that for the last 400 years science has taken over and the church has often found itself in conflict with science. But it’s been the wrong conflict.

Science and faith are dance partners.

If you believe the Bible is about science and therefore the universe was created in 6 days –and is only 4-6000 years old you have to do a lot of burying your head in the sand.Which, if you can imagine you burying your head in the sand, you are presenting to anyone watching you a tempting target.

On the other hand if you believe that billions of years ago the universe began out of nothing in some great explosion and all that preceded from that was a series of random actsagain you bury your head in the sand.

Either way you are one eyed.

But put science and Biblical faith together and you’ve really got something going!So here’s an example. Is there anyone here who has never seen a rainbow?

O.K. Why do you see it?Because sun light passing through drops of water splits the sunlight into the spectrum of colours Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet! that make up white light!And you see it. That’s what is called ‘logos’ language. It’s facts.Whether you believe it or not it’s fact.

Now I’m sure one of you could write a 300 page dissertation on how that happens.But that’s not the only thing a rainbow is – right?It’s not just the facts.How many times have you seen a rainbow maybe at a precise time of pain or hurt or uncertainty.Maybe a time of loss. And you come along to me and say,Mark – here’s 300 pages on why you see a rainbow – this will make you feel better. Not! Because that rainbow has brought about a change in you far more complicated than the 300 page explanation Greater meaning it has given you hope and lifted you into a place of encouragement.And maybe it was like God was speaking to you and you knew that you would survive.Are you with me?

Well give me a scientific explanation?How do you mean – it lifted you up. What part of you was lifted up?Give me the equation.Tell me why you believe God was talking to you?

And your answer is – I don’t know!It just happened. When I saw the rainbow, it caused a change in my thinking in the way I lived maybe the rest of my life, in a way that just knowing the science behind that rainbow could never do.

So we read:Genesis 9:12-17  God says, in English: “As a sign of the everlasting covenant which I am making with you and with all living beings,  (13)  I am putting my bow in the clouds. It will be the sign of my covenant with the world.  (14)  Whenever I cover the sky with clouds and the rainbow appears,  (15)  I will remember my promise to you and to all the animals that a flood will never again destroy all living beings.  (16)  When the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between me and all living beings on earth.  (17)  That is the sign of the promise which I am making to all living beings."

I remember as a child I had a little bow and arrow and when I read this story in the King James version, the one Jesus used, I imagined a bow like mine only bigger stuck up in the sky and went looking for it. As I took it literally.

But this story from Genesis is not the language of science.This is what we call mythos language.It’s deeper and more powerful than logos language.Mythos is what gives meaning to lifeMythos language gives hope Mythos language inspires.Mythos language lifts us up out of the dry aridity of science.

So the creation poem in the beginning of the Bible,not a scientific doctorate.Try and turn it into scientific fact and we will run into all kinds of trouble.And it will cause a lot of damage.Read the first chapter of Genesis as logos and planet earth becomes the centre of the universe and the sun revolves around the earth!Awkward and destructive especially when our children go to school and are taught that earth revolves around the sun.

In the 16C a Christian Mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus discovers that the sun, not the earth was the centre of our solar sytem.And so devote Christians said, no, the book of Genesis clearly states that the earth is the centre of the universe.His teaching was banned. Why?Because the church was unable to separate Logos language from Mythos language.

Up until the last century and the work of Hubble it was thought that the universe was only one galaxy – the Milky Way.Now we know, thanks to logos, there are millions of galaxies.

The creation poem in Genesis Chapter one was never meant to be scientific fact. It’s more that science.

And it’s necessary. Because it says to us that beyond the trillions of stars and planets millions of light years away beyond the farthest star breathing life and purpose, holding it all together is one whose nature is love.

That the universe didn’t just happen it was all called into being by one who is overwhelming abundance and generosity.One who has made an everlasting covenant with human kind and all of creation.

Well show me the facts about that!Give me the evidence.We can’t. We can only say I hear the voice of One who is love One from whose love I can never escape even if I go down to the world of dead even there I sense that this One will hold me.And not just me, everyone I know, everyone I have loved and lost.

One day every love will be restored and made new!

Well show me the facts!I can’t but that sense deep within speaks more truly to me than any other logos language.And those who wrote the Bible heard this Voice and they wrote inspired by the Spirit of God.And J.S. Bach sits down and composes some of the world’s greatest music because he says I am hearing the beauty and majesty of God.Well give me the facts Johann! I can’t I just hear it with something other than my ears.And then he takes the mythos that resounds in his heart and uses logos the science of notes to put it all into the most wonderful soundsthat you and I hear with something other than just our ears.

And then when we take the two logos and mythos and they join in a dance within us.We are no longer cyclops – seeing with one prejudiced eye, we see stereoscopically. Logos informs me of the amazing intricacies of life which my brain tries to comprehend and mythos speaks to me of something greater the length, depth, breadth and height of God’s lovewhich my heart tries to comprehend.

And so joy abounds.

So why is this important?Because today we have children, teenagers, adults saturated in logos.We can carry 1000 songs around in our pockets;we can instantly communicate with people across the world with a word to our cell phone.We can bombard our sense with audio and visual at the push of a button.

But without mythos, they can all be soul destroying and reason to live destroying.When people decide to end their own lives I believe it is because logos has been heralded as the answer to all the world’s problems and has been found wanting.

I would suggest that suicide as well as other kinds of life terminations are a symptom of a lack of mythos.They result from spiritual disease. 

When the age of reason developed we thought it would end all wars and poverty and abuse.

It hasn’t.

The only thing that can do it is a return to mythos the sense that you are created in the image of God created just a little lower than God and crowned with glory and honour.The sense that you are the beloved of God that you will be held, that no darkness shall be the last word in your life.

This belief that allows us to turn our scars into stars.

The belief that one time in history this One who holds all things in being became a human being and showing us the nature of God invited us to follow Himand to become love even as God is love.

Now that is worth much more than a million songs in my pocket!

Amen