There are many things in life that involve winners and losers, such as the All Blacks versus Wales this weekend. But science versus religion is not one of them. They are two complementary ways of answering the questions of life. Bob Jones in his weekly column is unhelpfully pandering to myths about both science and religion, in setting them apart from each other and trying to find a winner.
The whole point of Pope Francis' affirmations about the Big Bang and evolution is that they are compatible with Christian faith. He said: "The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."
Pope Francis highlights that the Big Bang requires the intervention of a divine creator. When you consider that the Big Bang was the beginning of all time, space and mass/energy, we are left with the questions, What caused the Big Bang? How and why was there a Big Bang? Available energy or matter doesn't arise spontaneously.
It is a myth that science says there is no God or nothing supernatural. Science is using solely natural means to discover. So it simply has nothing to say about what is beyond nature.
We need to accept what science has to discover within its limitations, and keep asking the bigger questions of what led to the Big Bang, and the purpose of life.
Science and religion need to work hand in hand. Science on its own is purposeless. It tells us what is here, not why it is here.
Natural evolution is touted as a purposeless process - just leading to what survives. If all of life is purposeless, then why live? It is God who gives us purpose that is beyond ourselves, like a carpenter gives purpose to a chair that he makes.
What of our abilities to give and receive love? We can't prove them in a test tube but they are real. There is also our desire to know what is true or false, our sense of beauty and awe, our conscience or what is right and wrong. These are all spiritual God-given gifts that make us humans as we are.
Science doesn't give us these. Without God life is absurd, without meaning, value or purpose. Science is a tool we can use for God-given purposes, but woe betide us if we leave God out of it.
Albert Einstein, that great father of science, wrote, "All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom." That doesn't mean that all religious or scientific claims are true.
Heaven is being experienced by many people in our day through near-death experiences. Science is doing more to confirm these as valid indications of consciousness beyond brain death.
The experiencers themselves report the reality of what they see of heaven, and they are not nutcases. Heaven is real because God is real, and this is the ultimate source of our universe.
Heaven gives this life a purpose that science doesn't. I embrace what science discovers, but also all that God reveals. There are different processes involved but they don't really compete. They may struggle, but in that process of struggle we all learn how to live more richly and truly.
Brian Brandon is a retired Presbyterian minister from Manurewa.