Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Relationship Between Science and Christianity

From an ongoing discussion on the Pyromaniacs blog noting Biologos' disregard for the authority of scripture, Blogger 'one busy mom' posted a comment outlining an apt metaphor for the difference between science and the revelation of God through scripture. I have also included my first comment.

Blogger one busy mom said...

Phil: excellent post!

You seem to be having trouble reconciling science and faith, and although I'm the theological lightwieght here, I'm going to dive in with some suggestions. I too love science. I grew up with science. My late father was a very highly esteemed scientist in his field both in the US and abroad.

Here are some tidbits I've gleened:

We only know a small percentage of the facts that can be known & some of what we think we know we've actually misinterpretted.

Let's compare this to a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. We'll generously say we know 10% of all that can be known - so we randomly pull out 100 pieces from the box. Now, since some of what we think we know is not correctly interpretted - take 15 of those 100 pieces and replace them with random pieces from other puzzles.

Now, do your best to arrange those pieces without ever looking at the picture on the puzzle box. Then extrapolate and try to recreate the original picture. Chances are the results will be interesting, well thought out, and appear correct...but chances are even better that it won't look much like the actual picture.

As Christians, we have a huge advantage - we have the box with the picture on it: the Bible. So we can look at the current arrangement of puzzle pieces and say "nah - this part here or that over there just doesn't work".

We shouldn't get upset or defensive just because the pieces don't match the picture. Seriously, without the picture what would the odds be of it ever matching? Nor should we be so foolish as to throw out the picture cuz it didn't match the current arrangement of the pieces! (As BioLogos appears to be willing to do) Instead, we should get really excited when the pieces and the picture differ- that's where discoveries are waiting to be made!

Once, when looking over some of my dad's many patents, I asked him how he knew where to look to make new discoveries. He said that was really "the million dollar question" for any scientist, but the best place to start was where there were discrepancies - where things didn't add up.

God says to prove Him, and see if He's true. He will never be found to be a liar. As believers, we need to trust that He meant what He said, take His Word literally, and have the courage to rearrange the puzzle pieces to fit the picture - not vice versa. Because of the nature of some of the areas of discrepency, I'm firmly convinced some of the most dramatic discoveries have yet to be made: but they won't be made by those who already believe they have the answers.


Blogger Jim Pemberton said...

one busy mom: very cogent metaphor, apt and true.

And I agree with with the following comments explaining the foundational nature of Biblical truth. It's what is often misunderstood, overlooked, or intentionally skewed in these discussions.

Mike correctly pointed to the definition of science as being rather vague and oft unaddressed for clarity. To be sure, inasmuch as we think about who God is we may be generally classified as theologians. Likewise, inasmuch as we observe the observable world around us and make predictable assumptions based on the consistent properties that we see we can all be generally classified as scientists.

However, there is are classifications of theologians and ministers who are defined as those who are particularly studied and interact with communities of other such theologians and ministers. Likewise, there are classifications of scientists and engineers who are particularly studied and interact with communities of other scientists and engineers.

It's the distinctions between schools of presuppositional thought that are often at the heart of disagreement or even discredit between communities of scientists. So if we talk about what science is "valid" we get a different answer based on what community we use as our basis for scientific thinking. As it is, the naturalists happen to have the upper hand in popularity by virtue of their proliferation on the staffs of many schools and universities. So non-naturalistic science tends to be dismissed by most scientists as invalid, not because it's not science, but because it's not naturalistic.

BioLogos seems to have bought the naturalistic party line and are using it's presuppositions for defining what science is "valid". But orthodox Christian presuppositions are decidedly not naturalistic. Therefore science that uses the same presuppositions as orthodox Christianity looks different than naturalistic science. Naturalistic science cannot be reconciled with Christian orthodoxy. But there is a science that is integral to Christian orthodoxy.

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