Letter to the Editor


Comments on Fraser's "A Christian Perspective on Time"

Richard Bube
Stanford University

From: PSCF 43 (March 1991): 70-71.

I was disturbed to realize how far from the accepted position of the American Scientific Affiliation the article by Brian Fraser, "A Christian Perspective on Time" has strayed (PSCF, September 1990, p. 177). Although the article expresses the ardent concern of Fraser to bear a Christian witness in science, with which we can all agree heartily, his approach would cause us to lose most of the advances we have made in this direction. Permit me to call the following specifics to mind.

1. He cites the philosophical writings of several non-Christian scientists, but instead of presenting them as such, he makes the usual mistake of introducing their words by saying, "Quantum theory, for instance, presents this picture of reality." Quantum theory does nothing of the kind. We must be very careful to discriminate between the results of authentic science and the philosophical speculation of scientists which they may claim to be based on their science, but in reality is not.

2. He follows this set of quotations with the words, "Is this the kind of universe God would make for us?" This is not a meaningful question, for it is not likely that we finite creatures are able to ascertain what the almighty God should have done. If we wish to be faithful to Him and His creation, we must look at it and attempt to see, through the pursuit of authentic science, how God has acted and is acting in His creation.

3. Meanings are not derived from science; human beings ascribe meaning to scientific results based on their own value systems, faith commitments and worldviews. Therefore it is not possible for us to deduce the appropriate structures of scientific models of the physical universe by reference to relational theological statements given to us by the revelation of God for a totally different purpose.

4. Fraser writes, "The Bible does not leave us wondering about the properties of God's physical creation." But that is exactly what the Bible does do. It tells us how to obtain the meaning and significance of those properties as they related to God and to us, but it tells us absolutely nothing about the detailed physical mechanisms that prove useful to us in attempting to describe God's continuing free activity in the physical creation. If we wish information about those properties, we must turn to authentic science.

5. Again Fraser writes, "Modern theoretical physics seems to want to change that clear picture." What any authentic theoretical physics wants to do is to provide models of reality that can be used to describe what is known and predict what is not yet known-nothing more, and nothing less. Anything else would fall into the category of pseudoscience.

6. Finally Fraser calls specifically for "a physics that is concordant with the values in the Bible ... a `scriptural physics.'..." Such a call is regrettably a call for pseudoscience. Any attempt to subject science to theology results in pseudoscience, just as any attempt to subject theology to science results in pseudotheology. I am sure that Fraser has the best of intentions, but the consequences of following this advice would be very unfortunate indeed.