A general problem with much of Western Theology…is that the God portrayed is too small. It is a god of a tiny world and not a god of a galaxy, much less a universe. – Carl Sagan
The other day, I talked about how, for many Christians, God is dead. He is not present in the things that they do, support, or in the way that they act toward their neighbors. So, for them, He is dead. But this isn’t the only segment of Christianity here in the states. Another set of Christians worships a small god. For lack of a less offensive manner in which to say this, they worship the Biblical God.
The more I read and study biology and cosmology, the more I am beginning to think that the Bible should not be our final authority in matters pertaining to these topics. I am not saying that the Bible is unauthoritative, nor am I saying that it is uninspired, nor am I saying that it is not God’s revelation to humankind. It does have authority, it is inspired, and it is God revealing Himself to His people. But, when it comes to scientific matters, its knowledge is limited.
Because of the Bible’s limited knowledge of science, this means that its understanding of the Creator God is limited as well. As Carl Sagan once said, He is the god “of a tiny world.”
Interestingly, though, over the years, our understanding of this world has expanded beyond that touched on by the Biblical witness. After all, where in the Bible do you find the idea that stars form out of gas explosions or that the cells in your body are entirely replaced many times over the course of your lifetime? You can look and look, but it’s not there. And that isn’t an excuse to say that it isn’t true.
But this is what many Christians do. The attitude is that if it is not in the Bible, than it must be opposed to the Bible. It’s evolution or creation. As a result, these people’s view of God is stuck within the confines of the Biblical witness. This God is unable to grapple with the problems of modern man.
This is not to say that the true Creator God is unable to do so. In fact, if there is a God, and I believe firmly that there is, He must be very big. Bigger than we can fathom. Bigger than any holy book can capture. To limit your understanding of God and His works to the confines of a single holy book is to do the true Creator a grave disservice.
But this is not how it must always be.
I think it is time that we set aside the old idea that the Bible is our final authority in all matters. In matters of theology and church doctrine, this may be the case, but when it comes to things like biology and the cosmos, we would do well to expand our canon in a practical sense to include that which God has further revealed to humankind. We need to begin seeing the Bible as a starting point, not a finishing point, for the Christian faith, especially as it pertains to science. The Bible provides the tools for an expanding view of God, but it doesn’t provide the whole picture.
Isn’t that what it is all about? Shouldn’t we, in all things, seek truth? And isn’t this what science is seeking to do? Not all science is seeking to undermine faith. The goal of science and cosmology is simply to understand how things work; to understand the process by which stars and galaxies are formed and the process by which humankind and the rest of the animal kingdom came to be where they are today. This is not opposed to the Christian witness. Rather, it affirms it.