afraid of science

When my wife Deb and I walk to our public library, we often buy a coffee and go to the newspaper, magazine, reading room. I grab a Scientific American magazine, my favorite there. I really don’t have a gift to do science myself, but am an admirer of it. And its subject matter, nature both in its microscopic and telescopic proportions, along with all things pertaining to nature ends up being quite fascinating. The magazine mentioned excels at bringing down to someone who is uneducated and untrained in science, concepts without watering them down, I trust. Or at least getting across the essence of the subject matter.

In beginning to understand the work of scientists, I find that the discipline is conservative by nature, and moves along slowly within the constraint of peer review. Hypotheses are tested over and over again, because that is a key part of doing science, to never imagine one has the final answer, but to always come up with apt questions which can then be tested and either verified, or not. And so the exploration goes on.

Christians, especially since Darwin have often held science at more than arm’s length. It is not to be trusted, it is on a conspiracy, it is grounded in a naturalistic worldview which is not only at odds with and incompatible to the worldview of scripture, but antagonistic against it. This has been a key part of the culture war between a large segment of American conservative Christianity and the scientific establishment.

Through RJS, who is a scientist and professor who teaches at a major university, I have come to accept evolution, as I was inclined to do beforehand, anyhow. She has contributed many posts on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed, which have helped me become convinced that the hypothesis of evolution has been tested over and over again, and in various ways, and has been found to be solid. (See also BioLogos).

However, not unlike the American political landscape especially in our faces now, given the upcoming presidential election, it sometimes appears to any skeptics that it’s a he said/she said proposition. And that nothing solid is on the scientific side, while on the Christian side we have the word of God.

But I have found that an acceptance of science as it is, the study by observation, hypothesis and testing (a friend who was a wonderful scientist in the UK, a birder, is gone, through whom I was learning, and so I’m rusty in remembering well any basics I understood) of nature, does not in the least make me question the validity of scripture as the written word of God, or the Genesis account. The Genesis account stands well on its own. The point of scripture is what matters. There is no doubt that we readers often impose our scientific understanding on the text. I have no doubt whatsoever that the text shows us the greatness and goodness of God in creating all things, including humanity in God’s image. Humanity’s responsibility is found in the mandate given to it from God, and we also are told how humanity is alienated from God and from each other due to sin. It is instructive to compare the Genesis account with other creation accounts of that time. Actually there is no comparison. The Genesis account stands alone in giving one the sense of the why, or purpose of creation, something science by nature cannot do, as it is concerned with what, when and how questions.

And our faith is centered and stands on God’s revelation in Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus, the good news of King Jesus.

Christians need not be afraid of science. We have to watch out that any scientist doesn’t impose a naturalistic worldview coming from their own thoughts. But science inherently is not equipped to say anything beyond the nature it studies, but to simply observe it, and let is speak for itself, so to speak. It is only by faith that we understand that the worlds or universe were framed or created by the word of God, so that what is now seen did not come from what is visible.

That is my testimony. Weak as it may be. But settled over time. As I go on seeking to live in God’s good will in Jesus together with others in Jesus for the world.

7 comments on “afraid of science

  1. Jill Alexander says:

    Thanks Ted

  2. Dave J. says:

    I’ve been studying the culture of creation vs. evolution for a year or so. The biggest gaff a creationist makes is rejecting evolution because they see it as part-and-parcel with atheism/humanism. Darwinist= atheist=evil, and thus a slippery slope, in their opinion, of rejecting God. You and I would be attacked because of this perception.

    Unfortunately, those who try to support their science with the Bible, trapped in defending it without comprehensive information or facts to back it up, and only weaken its credibility. Basic science of tree rings can take the age of the earth back over 10,000 years. The Bible has nothing to counter this, and fools making stuff up to attempt to do so, are just that, fools.

    There are inconsistencies within the bible itself, and to expect it to be 100% consistent with science on top of that is a huge, huge risk.

    • Dave J., Thanks. I’m sure I could learn a few things from you. I don’t think the Bible is meant to counter science. I will say I really do respect those who embrace Creation Science with both a reverence for scripture, and accepting a particular version of science (which you and I would hold suspect). They have their arguments. We all do well to listen well to each other, and not dismiss the other. And we need to include Intelligent Design in this discussion also, even though from what I’ve read, I accept the judgment of those who see its science as suspect, as well. Big subjects. Maybe I’m a bit of the fool for sticking my hand out to be seen on this so publicly. 🙂

  3. Dave J. says:

    I give you credit for being open minded. I want to say I am, but my open mind has a BS filter, although it is made of my own biases. In my learning: Creation Science is okay as long as it sticks to the bible-based information. It is futile for them to try to have any facts on dinosaurs, microbes, bacteria, speed of light, etc. because the bible doesn’t mention them at all. ID is mainly just a refutation of evolution, and has no core alternate science to study except ‘irreducible complexity’.

    • I am of the persuasion that neither Creation Science nor Intelligent Design have a leg to stand on. However I am certainly not a scientist. I have to take it second hand. But I hear you. I think Creation Science starts from a certain premise of interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. I really am not sure just how open minded I am on this. I start from a premise that science as is practiced is tenable and actually does well within the parameters set for it.

  4. Amory Ewerdt says:

    Hi Ted,

    I’ve read your blog off and on over the last year or two and have really appreciated much of what you have had to share here. I appreciate your humble and thoughtful approach. I just thought I would send you this short word of encouragement.

    Peace,

    Amory

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