Science in Christian Perspective



Putting Things in Perspective
Wilbur L. Bullock

From: PSCF 37 (December 1985): 193-194

As evangelical Christians we in ASA believe that "the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct." Therefore, we find it disturbing when we encounter serious disagreements among ourselves over "what the Bible says" about such subjects as evolution/ creation, war/peace, the role of women, church/state relations, and other controversial issues. We all tend to protect our own traditions and interpretations as the only right answers. Worse yet, we question the orthodoxy and/or the Christian commitment of those with other views. In this issue of the journal, Richard Bube discusses the role of deductive and inductive hermeneutics as an important facet of these differences. Using examples from yesterday and today, Professor Bube examines bow an overuse of either of these methods explains the differences and keeps us apart from each other and from the truth. We need to avoid the perils of the "proof -texting" extremes of deduction and the vague, experiential excesses of induction.

Any discussion of evolution must take into account the scope and limits of hereditary variation. All too often authors of biology texts lead us to believe that genetics has provided crystal clear signals in this area. John Lothers gives us some insights into the tensions that occurred in the early years of this century between the newly rediscovered principles of genetics and Darwinian natural selection. Since biologists are still discussing the relative importance of heredity, environment, and natural selection, it is useful to be reminded of the diverse reactions to these concepts in the past. Here is another area where Christians and nonChristians, biologists and non-biologists, need to remind themselves, with the required humility, of the limitations of human knowledge, even in the late twentieth century.

Many people assume that science and religion, especially Christianity, always have been and still are adversaries. However, a careful study of the history of science demonstrates that modern science developed only within a Christian framework and that a major part of that framework has been the recognition of the orderly processes of creation and providence. Enrico Cantore carries this phenomenon back still further to Jesus Christ Himself: "the followers of Christ could not help feeling stimulated by him wholly to involve themselves with nature as not just a gift but also a task from God demanding the engagement of their entire personality." Professor Cantore gives us a good reminder that science developed uniquely from a Christian base that includes not only the teachings of the church about Christ, but the very nature and teaching of Christ Himself.

The Communications section of this issue includes two complementary perspectives on the "Canopy Theory" and more of Rayinond Seeger's continuing series on the religious inclinations of great scientists.

As this issue goes to press we are beginning to receive manuscripts of papers presented at the Oxford University meeting with our friends of the Research Scientists Christian Fellowship. During 1986 we hope to bring you a number of the significant and stimulating papers that were presented at this landmark international meeting of Christians concerned with relating their science to their Christian faith.