Science in Christian Perspective




From: JASA 17 (June 1965): 63-64.

Time Magazine (February 12, 1965) brought some welcome news to biologists in an article entitled "Final Defeat for Comrade Lysenko." It will be recalled that Lysenko dominated Soviet genetics for many years and taught that Lamarckism was preferable to Mendelism. The former idea places emphasis in genetics on the effects of the environment on organisms and the inheritance of the induced environmental effects whereas the latter utilizes the gene theory. At any rate, Lysenko has been relieved of his post as Director of the Institute of Genetics of the Soviet Academy of Science. Under his rule, Lamarck's theories with modifications became official state doctrine and genetics in Russia languished. The lesson here is that it is very unwise for governments to espouse scientific theories and force adherance to them. It is equally unwise for religious bodies to champion scientific theories.


 Two students were engaged in a conversation on morality. One was a Christian and the other an atheist. The Christian remarked that-"it is obvious that sex, cigarette smoking, and non-church attendance are evidences of America's spiritual degeneration." The atheist replied that he couldn't see why cigarette smoking was more degrading than coffee drinking. Both practiced in excess are deleterious but why are they immoral? And why, he wanted to know, is a departure from current religious thinking immoral? Did not Calvin, Wesley, Luther and even Christ depart from current thinking? Do we consider them immoral today?

I might comment that students are clearer in their thinking than we give them credit for. We oldsters might learn a lesson here, provided, of course, that you agree with the argument.


It is axiomatic that our childhood training determines to a large extent the way we think in later life. In the constant-conflict area of science and religion, we tend to stick to our earlier notions without always considering alternatives to our ideas. It is essential for the well-being of the ASA that we keep the doors of communication open and that we do not, as members, adopt untenable positions from which we cannot retreat, at least not without "loss of face." For this reason, I am presenting below a short list of alternatives in some of the conflict areas, alternatives which should, it seems to me, always be foremost in our minds.

1. It is possible to believe that the plan of salvation as given in the King James or any other version is true without believing that any of the versions is an exact copy of the original manuscripts.

2. It is possible to believe both in the facts in the versions and the facts of science without believing in either religious or scientific interpretations of the facts.

3. It is possible to believe that plants and animals including man have changed during the course of time without believing in the development of all life from primeval matter.

4. It is possible to believe in the creation of certain forms of life as recorded in the Bible without believing that God created as many species as exist today.

5. It is possible, if one so desires, to be a Christian who believes in sin and salvation and, at the same time, believes that Evolution was God's method of operation.

6. It is possible to believe both in salvation and evolution without being an atheist.

7. It is possible to believe in a local Noachian flood without contradicting the Bible.

8. It is possible to believe in a universal flood without making it account for all of the known facts of stratigraphy.

9. It is possible to be an open-minded, tolerant Christian without denying the main facts as they are presented in the Bible.

Irving W. Knobloch