The argument won’t seem to go away; folks keep insisting that the Bible has to be science in order to be true while other people try to force relationships to fit scientific paradigms. I understand why—science seems to handle things with so much less mess. Science/Bill Nye versus Creationism/Ken Ham is the latest squabble, but religious folks like Copernicus and Galileo and Bruno and Darwin knew the same limited arguments from portions of the church in their day.
Religious knowledge fits into human reality as relational insight and provides another way to understand reality. Picture it with me—a couple sitting on the porch swing under a full moon and he nervously whispers, “I love you.” To which she responds, “Can you give me three scientific theorems to support that?” Never—science doesn’t help us in that situation; science does wonderful things with the physical world—religion guides our experience of the moral/relational world. We lose a lot when we confuse science with religion. We miss out on half of our experience if we limit ourselves to scientific reality alone. Aren’t our best moments in life both deliciously physical and mysteriously relational, scientific and religious?
The Creation texts of Genesis 1 and 2 are short on science but powerfully prescient on relationships. When things are chaotic and tumultuous, when the clash of opposites confuses hopelessly, Genesis 1 and 2 portray a God who connects opposites like light and darkness, like earth and water, in order to make an orderly, fertile habitat for wholesome life. Raging waters need a strong riverbank or seashore to harness its energy; light needs the darkness for life to flourish. Even the image of God cannot be borne fully by an individual in these two early chapters as God imprints the Divine image on male and female together. In the Bible, relationships rule—between soils and species and planets and people—so precise are the relationships of the planets that we set our most accurate clocks by their relationships! Indeed, science can be understood as the fruitful study of physical relationships, which make up us and our world. I wish we religious folks had been half as effective in our understanding of the relational/moral world as the scientists have in their disciplined service to us through the physical world.
It's not scientific trouble that Genesis goes on to describe in the concluding chapters—its relationships that sour. No one has ever entered my office to talk about scientific difficulty—everyone wants to talk about relationships. Relationships are the heart of our physical and spiritual world! A world cries out for help in relationships with God, neighbors, and enemies; people of good faith miss God’s faithful witness by resorting to limited arguments about science.