By Marian Choueifati
It is often assumed that science and faith are at odds. Christians are prone to warn children about controversial scientific discoveries, and scientists are encouraged to disprove the Bible through their studies. This duality has widened the schism that separates individuals from God, situating faith in an opposition to science.
Noticing this cultural divide, Dr. Riad Kassis saw the need for a nuanced perspective, particularly for Arab youth who may feel forced to choose sides. His first book in the “Between Science and Faith” trilogy seeks to answer common questions, such as, “Is science incompatible with God’s revelation? Is it possible to combine true science and committed faith without one denying or rejecting the other?”
For Kassis, the joy of worship is mixed with the joy of discovery. Yet for many Christians, there is a fear that science could threaten their faith in God.
“Anxiety surrounds questions of controversiality, for fear that one might come across as too liberal. For that reason, Dar Manhal al Hayat (DMAH) prioritizes its presence in the region as a safe space for open discussion and conversation, delving into challenging thoughts and ideas that might completely transforms one’s beliefs and ideals, just like Jesus overturned the corrupt tables of the temple,” said Wissam Nasrallah when introducing the book at a recent panel discussion.
On May 7, DMAH hosted a conversational seminar with Kassis, focused on the first two publications of his series, “Creation vs. Evolution” and “Thought vs. Infidelity”. To our surprise, the room – the largest at ABTS Moore Conference Center – was absolutely packed.
This was followed by a panel of speakers with diverse beliefs on the interplay of faith and science. Not only was there diversity among the panel, but the audience in attendance came from a wide array of churches in Lebanon.
This was intentional. As a publishing house, we believe that our Christian belief should not be protected from challenging ideas by being put away, like a fragile vase preserved on a high shelf.
In fact, our Christian belief should be as salt is to the earth, immersed within society, bearing with it the capacity for reformation and integration.
Consequently, we want to communicate and converse with all people, especially those with contradictory viewpoints and thoughts. To do that, listening is a key concept, paired with a tolerant approach. We hope to unite the Church with God-breathed scripture that “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
On that basis, we welcome anyone into a discussion about how to apply the Bible, but the Bible’s authority over our lives is non-negotiable. After all, these conversations are happening outside of the Church (with or without us), so our goal is to form a safe space within the Church to discuss big questions through the lens of scripture.
We pray that such challenge breeds a deeper faith, one that is child-like, not in its simplicity, but in its relentless pursuit of questions. May we always be amazed by the greatness of our God and ready to learn more about him!
As French scientist Louis Pasteur once said, “A bit of science distances one from God, but much science nears one to Him… The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator.”
Fostering Discussion in the Arab World
A fellow ministry in Lebanon, SAT-7 TV, filmed the conversational seminar and premiered it for Arabic-speaking audiences on June 15.