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A Christian View of Science and Scientism – Part II

To understand where Christianity and ‘science’ contradict, we must take the time to rightly define science…(continued)

7) It was Christianity’s assumption that the world functioned according to the orderliness of a Creator’s commands that led to the science of Isaac Newton and others. The scientific method did not develop in cultures whose gods were arbitrary, unpredictable, unknowable and capricious. For many centuries scientific investigations were carried out by Christians who understood the world as an orderly and understandable place because it was made by
God. Studying the creation was an indirect means of studying the Creator. Many of the greatest scientists of western civilization were Christians, or at least held a Christian worldview (e.g., Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Pascal, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell).

 

How Should Christians view science?

On the one hand, we should be thankful for everything that a true scientific method reveals. It brings glory to our Creator, for the Earth is His (Ps 24:1). We should be thankful for every innovation that enables man to live well before His Creator. 
On the other hand, we must recognise that the world is at war with God, and it will use a God-given method as an excuse to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18-21). We should distinguish between true science and anti-God assumptions built into some science.
We must also challenge the idea that facts are separate from faith, or that science is objective while faith is subjective. This comes from Immanuel Kant and the Enlightenment, not from Scripture. By the 1960s, scientists like Michael Polanyi and Thomas Kuhn were recognising that science is also ‘subjective’ in the sense that scientists have a grid which they apply to whatever they study – they exclude some facts, include others, and all for reasons not related to what they are studying.

 

When science claims authority which only God’s Word has, Christians should challenge this. The Bible gives us the Creator’s personal statement about the created order. The Bible is not meant to be textbook on scientific phenomena, but all interpretations of created phenomena can be judged within the grid of God’s Word. The Bible will not help us discover how various diseases affect the human body, how to build a telescope, or how to fly. Neither will science tell us how to be saved or how to behave. Nature does teach us about God (Ps 19:1; Rom 1:19-20) and God teaches us about nature. However, the Bible is not a science textbook and a science textbook is not the Bible. Nature and grace are two different aspects of life, but all of life is unified under Christ. “The judicious theologian must be careful to examine knowledge that comes to us from nature as well as knowledge that comes to us from grace, lest in a misguided zeal he establishes false conflicts between the two.” (Sproul, Lifeviews, 167.)

 

Christians who enter the sciences can do so for the glory of God. We need Christian botanists, paleontologists, astronomers, physicists etc. We need them to bring the Christian alternative to their investigations, and present these, both to challenge the existing order, and to strengthen the faith of Christians. A scientist’s view of the Bible will have an enormous impact on how he functions as a scientist. Christians believe that the Bible is the ultimate source of authority and will be looking for consistencies between the book of God and the book of nature. Thus, when a division arises between Scripture and science, the data of science must be reinterpreted to correspond with the Bible or discarded as false if such is not possible. Scripture stands in judgment of all other truth claims. The Christian scientist sees the universe as the handiwork of a sovereign God, and scientific data found in God’s universe will be consistent with the data found in God’s Word. Any observation that appears to be at odds with the Creator or his revelation must be reassessed in a way that does not deny the truth of what God has said. The Christian must never distort the truth of the Bible to make it conform to some current theory in science. Nature and grace are harmonious and compatible because the same God is author of them both.

We must teach our children the very clear distinction between the scientific method, and the anti-god philosophy posturing as science. It is crucial they receive this understanding before they enter their university years, particularly if their vocational training will be in the sciences or the humanities.

 

  – David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa

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