Science in Christian Perspective




Putting Things in Perspective

Wilbur R. Bullock
Durham NH

From: PSCF 40 (December 1988): 193.

To many people "perspectives on science and Cbristian faith" immediately conjures up thoughts, and even emotions, regarding evolution and/or creation. Certainly some of the reactions to Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy remind us that this issue is still with us, and that "evolutionists" and "creationists" continue to oversimplify and distort the subject in unscientific and uncharitable format.

However, there are numerous other issues in which our philosophical presuppositions influence our decisions. Thus, both Christians and nonchristians are grappling with genetic engineering and bioethics, with abortion and euthanasia, with war and peace, with issues of social justice, and with other problems that involve our views of the nature of human beings both as individuals and as groups. Hence, the conflict of ideas in the social sciences is an area where Christians need to wrestle with the implications of the biblical view of mankind.

One of the social scientists who has been much involved in formulating Christian perspectives in these areas is Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen. In the lead article of this issue, Dr. Van Leeuwen gives us a comprehensive, historical overview of the complex relationships between evangelical perspectives and the social sciences. Later in this same issue, Russell Bishop gives us an informative biography of this remarkable Christian psychologist.

As demonstrated by several papers published in this journal in recent years, as well as by letters to the editor, environmental issues are in the forefront for many people. In this issue, William Cobern discusses the importance of a values framework for teaching "global science" that checks antichristian attitudes and encourages values and religion in a non-sectarian framework.

John Templeton and Robert Herrmann emphasize how, in the light of relativity and quantum theory, God is not a mere "machine-tender or caretaker" but is intimately involved in every level of the created order. Materialistic and mechanistic oversimplifications have become increasingly unsatisfactory in the light of twentieth-century developments.

However, "evolution versus creation" is still with us! The fires of controversy are fed by a small group of anti-religious scientists for whom any mention of God-let alone biblical theism is archaic, subversive, and unscientific. Unfortunately, the fires are also fed by Christians who, in a similar arrogant and uncharitable fashion, insist that only their interpretations of Genesis qualifies people as truly Christian. Kenneth Kemp surveys some of the basic premises of creation science and finds them wanting both theologically and scientifically. He emphasizes, as have other contributors to this journal, that "evolution and creation do not answer the same questions" and that, therefore, the battle against evolution is not an important battle for Christians to fight.

Among the Communications is Larry Riedinger's sociological analysis of intra-denominational conflict, with particular emphasis on the current problems within the Southern Baptist Convention. He suggests that "bitter conflict and a party spirit are antithetical to the very identity of the Body" of Christ. Raymond Seeger discusses the life of John von Neumann in the twenty-third installment of his biographical essays on scientists and their religion. SEARCH: Scientists Who Serve God, rounding out its first year as an insert in Perspectives, focuses on chemist Robert L. Bohon.