Science in Christian Perspective
An Evangelical Perspective on
Science and the Christian Faith
Wilbur L. Bullock, Editor
From: JASA 36 (March 1984): 1-2.
Over the past few months, as I pondered the responsibilities I have assumed as Editor of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, I looked back over many of the past volumes of our journal. This overview has confirmed my confidence in the strength of the ASA, at least in part, because of our diversity, and rekindled my enthusiasm for "an evangelical perspective on science and the Christian faith." We are a group of men and women who have a firm commitment to the Christian faith and, at the same time, we have a professional involvement in the sciences. As such, ours is the exciting, but often difficult and challenging task to present that perspective to our fellow Christians who are not scientists and to our fellow scientists who are not Christians. Among the most significant difficulties of this task is the problem of the definition of our terms, the words we use in our efforts to communicate with each other and with other people. This need for definition even applies to our "evangelical perspective on science and Christian faith."
To the ASA "Christian faith" has always meant and should continue to mean our unconditional acceptance of five basic convictions. First, we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and we accept His atoning death on the cross as the only way whereby sinful human beings can be reconciled to a holy God. Second, we believe that He rose from the dead, is currently interceding for us with the Father, and will one day come again. Third, we believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are our only infallible rule of faith and practice. Fourth, we believe that God is the Creator of the universe, including this earth and all of the life forms on it. Fifth, we believe that God has granted to human beings the right and the ability to investigate the laws of the natural world and thereby to appreciate His power and might. Science is a significant part of this investigative process of finite humanity seeking to know more about the infinitely complex universe.
For much of its existence the ASA has defined "science" in
the broadest sense to encompass all areas of our search for
knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, we include in our Affiliation, not only physical and biological scientists, but also social
scientists and theologians. Such diversity enables us to avoid
overspecialization and compartmentalization as we attempt
to share with one another the insights from our own areas of
knowledge and experience. Such diversity also challenges us
to make ourselves intelligble to one another, since biologists
are not always familiar with the jargon of astrophysicists nor
can chemists always appreciate the terminology of psychologists. One of the real challenges we face in our local and
national meetings as well as in the journal is to present our
evangelical perspectives in a way that will be professionally
competent and, at the same time, understandable to people
from other sciences. An even greater challenge is to speak and
to write, at least sometimes, to the average pastor or church
member about our science or to the average scientist or
academic about our Christian faith.
An equally valuable form of diversity within ASA is that our "evangelical perspective" on many issues is a pluralistic one within the confines of what we believe are the biblical parameters of "Christian faith." Therefore, the ASA has never had, does not have now, and never should have a "party line" or "THE" Affiliation position on controversial issues on which men and women of God, born-again, fellow evangelicals, have had or still hold differing opinions. Some people, who look for simplistic answers to the mysteries of God, have difficulty with that position, but we believe it is in keeping with New Testament principles. Furthermore, there are many examples of the accepted and prevailing opinion changing with time. "Discarded hypotheses" become "the only" explanations, and the "facts" of today become the "discarded hypotheses" of tomorrow. Such a phenomenon occurs in both science and theology. Therefore, as we discuss evolution/creation, determinism/free will, nuclear deterrence/nuclear freeze, and a host of other issues we need to constantly and humbly remember the limited nature of our knowledge and to be kind and patient with one another. As I edit the journal I plan to emphasize the recommendation of Paul to the Ephesians that we should always "speak the truth in love." Besides, Jesus Himself reminds us that it will be through our loving regard for one another-not through the power of our logic or our data - that others will know that we are His disciples.
As your Editor I want to see us continue the free discussion of the many critical issues facing the church in a dangerous and deteriorating world situation. I want to see that discussion carried out in a scholarly and in an atmosphere of mutual respect and forbearance will bring honor to the cause of Jesus Christ. To this end we now have an Editorial Board-whose composition is indicated on the inside front cover-who will help me with editing and with the development of journal policies. In addition, we have a large group of highly qualified Editorial Consultants who will also be involved in the review process. Our aim will be to maintain the high quality of the journal as authors seek to share with our readers their thoughts on various perspectives on science and Christian faith. I encourage all of our readers to contact me or members of the Editorial Board with ideas for improving the journal or for subject areas that should be discussed. To properly communicate "An evangelical perspective on science and the Christian faith" we need your help.