Science in Christian Perspective



M. D. Barnes

From: JASA, 2, (June1950): 1

The Editor has never taken a course in apologetics and assumes that a substantial percentage of the membership of The American Scientific Affiliation are in a similar uninformed condition, In keeping with the assumption indicated he is waxing bold enough to offer this limited treatment of the subject: Christian Apologetics.

Classically (according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, Vol. 2, p. 114) "Apologetics seeks to establish grounds for faith in God, in Christ, in the Bible and in the Church. . . ." "Again the basis of apologetics may be placed in reason or in conscience or in experience, or (in some) sense in authority -- or in a combination of several factors. . . ."' It would appear that an apologetic could be built up that would fit the above point of view and still be lacking in any dynamic, Christian element. It seems in order, therefore, to speak of Christian Apologetics or a Christian apologetic, to indicate its nature, its applfc-a-t-1-o-n and its pi pose.

A Christian apologetic is essentially a demonstration of the consistency, or harmony of the various parts of a single continued authoritative revelation. We assume that God has revealed Himself in part in Nature and more personally and completely in the Scriptures, we may even consider that He has revealed Himself in part in the Church Universal. In point of time or understanding these are parts of a continuous authoritative revelation. Primarily the objective of a Christian apologetic is to show the consistency or harmony of our knowledge of Nature (or what passes for such) and God's authoritative revelation -- the Scriptures. In so doing we need not consider as science or knowledge of Nature all of man's worn or outworn theories and speculations, neither need we become "Bibliolaters" by considering the Scriptures as God's authoritative Word and rejecting the claim that "the Scriptures contain the Word of God."

Obviously a detailed knowledge both of the Scriptures and some phase of Natural Science are involved, yet an extensive knowledge of either separately is not enough; the essential element of apologetic as employed here is a relationship, i.e., harmony or consistency -- thus the relationship of any phase of natural science to the Scriptures must be demonstrated in the true apologetic. A detailed elucidation of either aspect, however entertaining, however enlightening and however learned is, not an apologetic.

In applying this idea to the publications of the A.S.A. one finds many times an unbalanced condition arising from a neglect by the authors of one or the other aspects of ' the effort. Natural science is overemphasized in some cases, whereas in others efforts are made to derive all or at least spectacular parts of Natural science from the Bible. In some cases the evangelical note is omitted, muted, or appended as something of a discord at the end. The true Christian apologetic should demonstrate a relationship between an elucidation of some phase of Natural science and an illumination of some part of the Scriptures and should have a well integrated evangelical theme running throughout.

Finally we come, in elaboration of the above, to the real purpose of a Christian apologetic. Some have considered that the latter is justified by its intellectual beauty, its consistency and its completeness. Its ultimate purpose is thus to be integrated into a well constructed, self-contained cosmology. We are inclined to believe that cosmos is justified only of its relative soteriology and not of itself alone. Thus we consider that a Christian apologetic must have for its purpose the establishing or the strengthening of a real saving faith in God's Word, the Scriptures and in His Logos Christ Jesus our Lord.