Jesus used this phrase, “the truth will set you free” in reference to those who follow him and become his disciples. (John 8:32) Elsewhere in the Bible, he says “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
Sometimes, we wonder what the truth is. God seems to show us one truth, and the world tries to show us another. We ask, along with Pilate, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) This fear and confusion is often thought of as a by-product of today’s world. Atheists (generally speaking) believe that this is because science has come far enough that we can now see the absurdity of religion, and many Christians have bought into this explanation even if they disbelieve the results. The truth is, this is nothing new.
Science has introduced new things, so has atheism, but the conflict of belief systems has raged throughout history. The early Church was not highly regarded at first – one of its critics scathingly remarked at how many Christians were poor and uneducated – but in the eighteenth century it came to rely not only on God but on its science to convert others. “Christianity and civilization” was the mantra for a whole span of missionaries bringing the latest in European technology to reinforce their faith.
Now we have atheists in our culture, following the same pattern. Though they do not shout “Science and unbelief!” as they go about their business, it is something they are using. Christianity is attempting to wrest control of science back in some ways – the debate over whether Creationism or Evolution should be taught in schools is an example of this.
Ultimately, though, the problem here is not the science. Scientists gather facts, but they use those facts to tell stories about the world, stories that explain the way it works and (since the ancient philosophers of Greece) the way it came to be. It follows that scientists who have accepted the premise that good science is “secular” (ie, in practice atheistic, without God) cannot reasonably conclude that God created the world. It is important to note here that though science has taught us many true things, it was also at one time used to teach that black people were inferior. Science may be based on facts, but it still reflects the belief system animating it with all its prejudices and biases.
Nor can we expect our culture to affirm Biblical marriage when the assumption is that our government ought to operate atheistically or from a secular framework. Our politics, studies and laws in some ways reflect the facts, just as science in some way does, but it also reflects our beliefs, just as science does.
The truth that we have as Christians is rooted in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to be afraid of the facts. We can value and treasure science, and a good Christian can still be a politician. We can learn true things about the world from those who do not believe. We do however, have to be careful when it comes to trusting the conclusions of a person who is operating outside of a Christian framework. They know true things about the world, but they do not know the truth.
The solution to this conflict then, is not the triumph of Creationism over Evolution. It is not the triumph of traditional marriage over so-called equal marriage. It is about bringing the love and truth of Jesus Christ to every corner of our world. Once that happens, then we are in a position to talk about the facts of our world in the light of the truth of Jesus and settle our disagreements. Until then, it is impossible.