Parents and Children
Students see science not as a body of knowledge to be memorized for a test but as a living process through the ages driven by a curiosity and a relationship that wonders at the ways and means of God the Creator. It leads us to awe and reverence of the Creator himself not to worship of the process. We know that ultimately the book of God and the book of nature are completely united coming from the same hand. Students with an understanding of the history and current work of science see that we strive to find and revise answers, but we evaluate them as strong or weak theories not as truth itself. Mason speaks of this in Parents and Children p. 141 where she says:
It is well that the enthusiasm of children should be kindled, that they should see how glorious it is to devote a lifetime to patient research, how great to find out a single secret of Nature, a key to many riddles. The heroes of science should be their heroes; the great names, especially of those who are amongst us, should be household words. But here, again, nice discrimination should be exercised; two points should be kept well to the front––the absolute silence of the oracle on all ultimate questions of origin and life, and the fact that, all along the line, scientific truth comes in like the tide, with steady advance, but with ebb and flow of every wavelet of truth; so much so, that, at the present moment, the teaching of the last twenty years is discredited in at least a dozen departments of science. Indeed, it would seem to be the part of wisdom to wait half a century before fitting the discovery of today into the general scheme of things. And this, not because the latest discovery is not absolutely true, but because we are not yet able so to adjust it––according to the ‘science of the proportion of things’––that it shall be relatively true.
Knowledge is Progressive––But all this is surely beyond children? By no means; every walk should quicken their enthusiasm for the things of Nature, and their reverence for the priests of that temple; but occasion should be taken to mark the progressive advances of science, and the fact that the teaching of to-day may be the error of tomorrow, because new light may lead to new conclusions even from the facts already known. ‘Until quite lately, geologists thought . . . they now think . . . but they may find reason to think otherwise in the Future.’ To perceive that knowledge is progressive, and that the next ‘find’ may always alter the bearings of what went before; that we are waiting, and may have very long to wait, for the last word––; that science also is ‘revelation,’ though we are not yet able fully to interpret what we know; and that ‘science’ herself contains the promise of great impetus to the spiritual life––to perceive these things is to be able to rejoice in all truth and to wait for final certainty.
Reflect on how this attitude and understanding contrasts with the idea that science and faith are incompatible or inherently at odds? What thoughts or questions does this idea raise for you?