Matt Carlson said the age-old conflict between science and faith is not much of a conflict at all and he is going to prove it to the members of Shabbona United Church of Christ on Sunday.
Carlson, a chemistry teacher from Indiana, has gone around the country with his wife – a professor at Purdue University – giving presentations on how science and faith are not mutually exclusive and can work hand-in-hand. Carlson will give his Bill Nye the Science Guy inspired presentation at Shabbona United Church of Christ during Rally Day on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
“The Bible says nature declares God’s glory,” Carlson said. “So studying and observing nature points us to God and tells us more about God.”
As with every Rally Day event, Pastor Jim Allen said the presentation would be wild and interactive for the congregation and members should not be expecting a traditional service. In years past, Allen said the church has brought in alligators, pythons and Christian magicians during the service designed to bring everyone back together from the staggered summer service schedule.
This year will be no different, Allen said, as he expects Carlson’s florescent colored hair and special interactive activity regarding the universe to entertain the crowd.
“He is kind of an odd duck,” Allen said. “I know he will bring a very dynamic presentation and we’re lucky to have to people of their caliber make science fun and take on issues we all struggle with.”
The struggle between faith and science has even pulled at Allen, who is a former engineer. He said his passion for science would make it difficult to reconcile some of what he learned with what he was taught in his faith. His father also was a scientist and devoted Christian and struggled with those same issues at times.
But Allen said the more he learned in science, the more he saw the relationship with the Bible. For example, he said the notion the universe is billions of years old does not conflict with God’s role in creation. Allen said it would be arrogant to believe God measures days in 24 hours and like any good teacher, the story of the seven-day creation is put into terms people can understand.
God’s day, he said, could very well be an epoch – or 2.5 billion years.
“God is telling a story and you have to tell it in a way people can understand it,” Allen said, comparing the lessons in the Bible to a lesson in an advanced science class. “You don’t go in day one and understand it. The teacher goes to the board and says here is step one, here is step seven.”
Carlson said he hopes to not only inspire a stronger faith in people, but a passion for science, especially in the children. Science, he said, is one of the best ways for young people to explore and grow in their faith.
“Biblical faith doesn’t say believe something because I tell you. It says test it out and don’t take it for granted,” Carlson said. “When you test your faith, you grow in faith. People of faith should not be afraid of science and scientists shouldn’t turn off their brains to faith.”
The Rally Day also will kick off the church’s new sermon series, which will start with the story of creation and go through the entire Bible in one year. Allen said he will teach out of a book called “The Story” that presents the Bible in a chronological order with transitional discussions in between.
With multiple stories in each chapter to teach from, Allen said the goal is to guide the congregation through the entire Bible in a year three different times with each experience being new.
“Even for people who know their Bible well, it can be hard to see the large picture,” Allen said. “This helps present the Bible in more of a novel form.”
Allen said all are welcome to the Rally Day service at 9:30 a.m. at the church on 104 E. Navaho Ave. in Shabbona.
If you go
What: Rally Day science presentation by Matt and Erica Carlson
When: 9:30 a.m. Sunday
Where: Shabbona United Church of Christ, 104 E. Navaho Ave., Shabbona