Science in Christian Perspective



Donald C. Boardman 
17021 Tesoro Drive
San Diego, California 92128

From: JASA 33 (March 1981): 1-2.

It is the nature of most persons to want simple answers to every problem that arises. Unfortunately there are few that can be solved with one neat statement. No one should be more aware of this than those who claim to be scientists.

An illustration of the dilemma which arises from oversimplification is the work of a group called Citizens Against Federal Establishment Of Evolutionary Dogma. Recently in a news release they tell of a question being sent to every member of Congress and to each presidential and vice-presidential candidate: "Do you agree that the evolutionary theory of origins must stand or fall strictly on scientific merits?"

The question is redundant. That is what science is all about. Theories are proposed and are either accepted as working models or not on the basis of scientific investigation. A theory is "a system of assumptions devised to explain the nature of a specified set of phenomena." Since the Greeks proposed some ideas which could be considered evolutionary in their concept, to the present time, theories explaining origins have been subject to scientific study. This has been especially true since Darwin made his contribution in 1859. The present evolutionary theories are a great deal different from those of Darwin's time. The point is, however, that theories are not truths. They are working models. They are the subjective analysis of the data available. Three scientists (or a hundred) might examine a series of observations and each arrive at a different theory which he thought was justified by the data. Some of these conclusions might seem to be better working models for future investigation and so be more likely to be accepted. Others of the theories might seem to have little relevance and so be passed over. The discarded ones might prove in the future to be more nearly correct.

A second project of the same organization is a bill to be proposed in Congress. It is to be known as the "Academic Freedom in Scientific Inquiry Without Federal Censorship Act." The main thrust of the first part of the bill is that federal funds should be awarded in the same amount to what are termed "evolutionist scientists," "creationist scientists," and "other scientists" research applicants. The same criteria should apply to federal grants to museums, the National Park Service, and curriculum development.

One paragraph states that "no federal funds shall be used for any theistic, non-theistic, humanistic, or other religious doctrine about the origin of the universe, the earth, life, or man." Section four requires that House and Senate hold committee hearings to "delineate the scientific evidence for these models." Section five defines "science-creation" and "evolution" models. The science-creation model includes "belief in explanation of the earth's geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and a relatively recent inception of the earth and living things."

Several problems would arise if such a bill were to be included in our laws. One is the difficulty of having a creation with a creator who is divine. Thus despite the attempt not to do so, this bill brings religion into the matter of dispersal of federal funds.

Secondly, although the title of the bill states it is an act to protect academic freedom, the stipulation that an equal amount of monies is to be allotted to each of the three categories of scientists means there will not be academic freedom for a large number whose research cannot be funded until a sufficient number of worthy proposals are submitted by an admitted minority of scientists.

An even greater problem is in the definition of a "creationist scientist." It is our observation that very few Christians who are trained in science could be placed in this category. These scientists are Christians because they believe in God who, as described in the first chapter of John made all things and also came to this earth in the form of man and became the Savior. They believe, as the Bible says, that one becomes a Christian by belief in Christ, not by accepting scientific theories.

If one accepts the concept that God created ex nihilo, then a discussion of creation vs evolution is meaningless. To evolve, there has to be something to change. The evolutionary scientist, whether Christian or not, still has to believe something was created, or at least acknowledge he does not know the origin of the particles which make up matter.

And finally, the picture this bill presents becomes ludicrous when one thinks of a committee of the U. S. House of Representatives and another one from the Senate holding hearings to try to decide which model of origins is true. The two committees will have a large number of models presented to them. It is possible the one chosen by the House committee will be different from the Senate's choice. Will there then be a joint House-Senate committee to reach a compromise by taking parts of each model?

Donald C. Boardman is Emeritus Professor of Geology from Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and served as President of the ASA in 1971 and 1972.