Science, Worldviews, and Culture:
Mutual Interactions for questions about
Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Creationism.

by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.


      Harmonizing Science and Worldview

      Most people want their own ideas to be logically consistent.  This desire produces mutual interactions between scientific theories and worldview theories, with each influencing the other.  Either type of theory, or both, can be adjusted in an effort to achieve consistency.  /  A worldview is a view of the world, used for living in the world.
      For theories in the area of origins:  An atheist has no scientific freedom, since only one conclusion (totally natural evolution with no theistic action) is acceptable.  An open-minded flexible agnostic who says "I haven't decided yet" has freedom.  But a rigid agnostic who wants to remain agnostic will want to reject any theory with theistic implications.  A believer in a non-theistic religion will prefer nontheistic theories and interpretations.  A theist has options (young-earth creation, old-earth creation, or theistic evolution) and is free to follow the evidence and logic of science to any conclusion.  But sometimes there is a theistic influence on science, since each theistic position requires some adjustment (scientific and/or religious) to achieve harmony between science and theology.
      For a Jewish or Christian theist, five variables that can be adjusted are:  scientific interpretations of nature;  theological interpretations of the Bible;  relative emphasis placed on scientific interpretations and theological interpretations;  theological theories about the frequency of various types of theistic action by God (with different combinations of appearance, degree of theistic control, and context);  willingness to use miraculous-appearing theistic action in theories about the history of nature.

      What are Cultural-Personal Factors?
      During all scientific activities, including theory evaluation, scientists are influenced by cultural-personal factors.  These factors include psychological motives and practical concerns (such as intellectual curiosity, and desires for self-esteem, respect from others, financial security, and power), metaphysical worldviews (about the nature of reality), ideological principles (about "the way things should be" in society), and opinions of authorities (who are acknowledged due to expertise, personality, and/or power).  /  These factors interact with each other, and operate in a complex social context that involves individuals, the scientific community, and society as a whole.  Science and culture are mutually interactive, with each affecting the other.  /  Some cultural-personal influence is due to a desire for personal consistency between ideas, between actions, and between ideas and actions.  For example, scientists are more likely to accept a scientific theory that is consistent with their metaphysical and ideological theories.  { This description is from my integrative model of scientific method and is part of a page about cultural-personal factors, conceptual factors, thought styles, and whether our actual "scientific methods" should be eks-rated. }

      MUTUAL INTERACTIONS AND INFLUENCES occur because a desire for consistency "produces mutual interactions between scientific theories and worldview theories, with each influencing the other" and because our cultural-personal worldviews (which include religion and much more) influence everything we do.  The rest of this page is an introductory overview — along with links to pages where you can learn more — of the ways in which worldviews influence science and science influences worldviews.

The left and right columns below are "samplers"
which collect-and-organize ideas that
are (or were) in other pages.



Can worldviews influence science?

      Recognize and Minimize
      In my opinion, we should recognize that science is influenced by cultural-personal factors (which include religious worldviews and much more) and — in an effort to maximize the effectiveness of science in a search for truth — we should try to minimize the biasing influence of these factors.  We should want scientific theories to be evaluated by thinking that is unbiased and logical.  We should pursue this noble goal, using it as an aiming point and taking actions that will move us closer to it, while humbly recognizing that we haven't yet achieved it and never will.

      Examples of Influences
      If a person is influenced by young-earth theology (claiming that "if the Bible is true, the earth is young") there will be a tendency to evaluate young-earth theories more favorably than is warranted by scientific evidence and logic.  If a person is influenced by anti-evolution theology (claiming that "if the Bible is true, evolution is false") there will be a tendency to evaluate evolutionary theories unfavorably.  But an evaluation of evolution that is too favorable can occur due to naturalistic influences.  And if a person is influenced by the scientific community (by professional practicalities, group pressures, and conventional modes of thinking) there will be a tendency to evaluate the conventional theories (old earth and evolution) favorably.
      But even if an individual or group has a motivation to be biased, this does not mean their conclusion is biased (since the evidence may actually lead to the conclusion they prefer) or is wrong (since reality may actually be the way they hope it is).

      Theistic Science is not Open Science
      theistic science is based on the principle that "Christians ought to consult all they know or have reason to believe when forming and testing hypotheses, when explaining things in science, and when evaluating the plausibility of various scientific hypotheses.  Among the things they should consult are propositions of theology. (J.P. Moreland & John Mark Reynolds; page 19 in Three Views of Creation, 2000)"  Alvin Plantinga describes the rationality of adopting this approach: "a Christian academic and scientific community ought to pursue science in its own way, starting from and taking for granted what we know as Christians."  In theistic science, a theistic worldview is used as a metaphysical foundation for doing science.  But theistic science is not a single way of thinking, since it can lead to different theological propositions about God, nature, and science.
      open science is open to different perspectives.  In contrast with the current monopoly of naturalistic science (and education) that allows only one perspective, I'm advocating an open science that allows a variety of perspectives (including naturalism, intelligent design, and different types of theistic science) and is open-minded toward a range of scientific conclusions.

      Open Science and Closed Science
      one type of closed science:  Currently, most scientific inquiry is closed by methodological naturalism (MN), a proposal to restrict the freedom of scientists by requiring that they include only natural causes in their scientific theories.
      The difference between science that is open and closed is the difference in responding to a question:  Has the history of the universe included both natural and non-natural causes?  In an open science (liberated from MN) this question can be evaluated based on scientific evidence and logic.  In a closed science (restricted by MN) the process of science is irrelevant, since the inevitable conclusion — no matter what is being studied, or what is the evidence — is that "it happened by natural process."
      In open science, a scientist begins with an MN-assumption, but does not insist on ending with an MN-conclusion unless this is justified by the evidence.  An open scientist replaces rigid-MN (in which a naturalistic conclusion is required) with testable-MN that treats the assumption of MN as an assumption, as a theory to be tested rather than a conclusion to be accepted.

      Avoiding the possibility of Unavoidable Error
      Is MN the best way to do science and search for truth?  Maybe not.  It depends on what actually happened in history.  Imagine two possible worlds: one has a history of nature with all events caused by natural process, while the other has a history that includes both natural and non-natural events.  When we ask, "Which type of world do we live in?", we hope our science will help us, not hinder us, in our search for truth.  But in one of the two possible worlds, a closed science (restricted by MN) must inevitably reach the wrong conclusion.  By contrast, in either world a non-MN science will allow, although it cannot guarantee, reaching a correct conclusion.
      Imagine that we're beginning our search for truth with a logically justifiable attitude of humility, by refusing to decide that we already know — with certainty, beyond any doubt — what kind of world we live in.  If we don't know whether history has been all-natural, our best scientific strategy for finding truth is an open science, with scientists humbly asking a question instead of arrogantly assuming an answer.

      MN and the Process of Science
      How does MN affect the process of science?  The circular logic of MN converts a naturalistic assumption into a naturalistic conclusion by declaring that — when we ask, "Has the history of the universe included both natural and non-natural events?" — the only acceptable answer is "no" because with MN the automatic conclusion must be that "it happened by natural process."  In reaching this conclusion the process of science is irrelevant, yet the conclusion is considered scientific.  Thus, MN provides a way to bypass the process of science and then claim the authority of science.
      If some non-natural events did occur during history, MN will force scientists to reach some false conclusions.  And MN decreases the quality of critical thinking about naturalistic theories, which are unfalsifiable (since they're protected by MN) when they're being compared with non-naturalistic theories.

      What is a design theory?
      If you receive a radio signal — 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17,... — and you think "this long string of prime numbers probably was not produced by undirected natural process," you are proposing a theory of intelligent design.
      To explain the origin of a feature (an object, system,...) during the history of nature, the two possibilities are nondesign (with production by undirected natural process) and design (with production by design-directed action that converts an agent's unobservable "design idea" into a designed feature we can observe).
      How can we distinguish between nondesign and design?  With proper definitions, nondesign and design are mutually exclusive (it was either one or the other) so non-design is supported if the production of a feature by undirected natural process seems plausible; and if this does not seem plausible, design is supported.
      There are several types of design, due to differences in agency, detectability, and timing.  A designed feature can be produced by a natural agent (using natural action) or a supernatural agent (using natural or supernatural action), and the action can be detectable or natural-appearing.  { If design-action is not detectable, the scientifically justifiable conclusion (that there was no design) will be a "false negative" because there really was design. }  For a supernatural agent, the design-action can occur during history, or at the beginning of history in a design of nature so the feature will eventually be produced by undirected natural process and there will be no need for special action during history.
      In this page, a design theory is defined as a theory proposing that a particular feature was produced by empirically detectable design-directed action during history.
      A basic design theory is not a creation theory.  It does not claim that, based on scientific analysis, we can distinguish between non-creation (by a natural agent) and creation (by a supernatural agent), it just claims "design-directed action did occur."  Although a design theory does not propose that a miracle has occurred, it does acknowledge this as a possibility.  But this possibility is denied by MN.

      Scientific Objectivity: What is it?
      Here are two ways to think about objectivity in science:
      • One way to define objectivity, based on the premise that objectivity and flexibility are related, is to ask: "How strongly does a scientist hope that a theory evaluation will result in a particular conclusion?" or "Would a scientist be open-minded and willing to change views (if this is supported by the evidence and logic) and accept another theory?"
      • Another definition is based on the premise that a conclusion would be more objective if it was produced by pure scientific logic, if cultural-personal factors exerted no influence during the process of evaluation.  Just as Newton tried to imagine the characteristics of idealized motion without friction, we can try to imagine the characteristics of an idealized evaluation without cultural-personal influences, with only scientific logic.

      Bias and Falsity
      Even if scientists (as individuals or in a group) are motivated to be biased in a particular way, this does not mean that the process of scientific evaluation, or the conclusion reached, must be biased, or that the conclusion will be false.
      I'll define an unbiased conclusion as one that matches the conclusion of an "idealized evaluation" when we ask, "If there was an objectively neutral evaluation of the evidence, based on logic rather than desires, what would be the conclusion?"  There are two ways that biased scientists could reach an unbiased conclusion.  • process:  Perhaps the scientists can overcome their tendency toward bias, and can make an objective evaluation.  • conclusion:  Or a person (or group) may strongly hope the evidence will point to a certain conclusion, and they are incapable of making an objective evaluation, but the reality is that an objectively neutral evaluation of the evidence actually does point to the desired conclusion, so the scientist's bias (during the process of evaluation) makes no difference in the conclusion.
      What about falsity?  Perhaps the evidence "points to the desired conclusion" because it is true, because "the way they hope the world is" corresponds to "the way the world really is," so bias does not indicate falsity.
      Therefore, we cannot say "If scientists have a motivation to be biased, their conclusion will be biased and will be wrong," since a biased motivation can lead to four types of conclusions: biased and wrong, biased yet true, unbiased yet wrong, unbiased and true.

      Naturalism and the Origin of Life
      For judging the depth of commitment to a naturalistic universe without miracles, it is fascinating to see how the origin of life is handled by scientists who study it, authors who explain it, organizations of scientists and educators, and the media.  During the past five decades, scientists have learned that what is required for life seems to be much greater than what is possible by natural process, and a natural origin of carbon-based life seems implausible.
      But in a typical treatment, a textbook will admit that we don't yet know how life became alive, but will imply that life did originate by natural process, instead of being humble about naturalism.  Why?  Is this confidence in natural process based on scientific evidence or naturalistic methodology?

   All current theories for a natural origin of carbon-based life seem highly implausible.  Is it rational for scientists to consider the possibility that life on earth did not originate by undirected natural process, but was the result of design-directed action?  The certainty of "proof" is impossible because we can never propose and test all possibilities for non-design.  But we could develop a logically justified confidence that our search has been thorough yet futile, and no promising approaches remain unexplored.

      Can design be proved?
      A design theory does not claim that non-design is impossible, it only claims that design seems more probable, based on scientific evidence and logic.  This type of probability-based conclusion is consistent with the logic of science in which proof is always impossible, even though scientists can develop a logically justified confidence in the truth or falsity of a theory.  In science, a high level of confidence (not proof) is the goal when scientists evaluate a theory to determine whether it is worthy of acceptance.
      If a design theory claims only to be "more probable" or to warrant "a high level of confidence" this is the standard by which it should be judged.  It seems unreasonable for critics of design to demand — along with radical postmodern critics who challenge the credibility of all science — that if scientists cannot claim the certainty of proof, they should claim nothing.

      Why isn't God more obvious?  Why is there any evidence — like a formative history with a general increase of biocomplexity and biodiversity, with features that give an appearance of common descent, and long delays (e.g., 3 billion years from the first life to the Cambrian Explosion) between major biostructural innovations — that might lead some rational people to propose "atheistic evolution" as an explanation?  {three possible answers}

      Accepting Authority in Physics and Biology
      We accept the claims of physicists about their theories of motion.  By analogy, should we also accept (in science and education) the claims of biologists about their theories of evolution?  Maybe not.  Why?
      First, for some aspects of evolutionary theory (but not for basic theories of motion) there are scientific reasons for critical thinking and caution.  For scientific reasons, some scientists disagree with other scientists.  In science the majority is usually correct, but not always.
      Second, there are reasons to suspect that cultural-personal factors are influencing the evaluations of evolution within biology, so there are reasons for listening carefully to critics of the "consensus conclusions" about naturalistic evolution.  There are two types of cultural-personal influence:  in biology an uncritical acceptance of evolution offers professional advantages (in getting publications, funding, employment,...) for individuals;  and for the community, the accepted theory must be a naturalistic theory because this is required by methodological naturalism.  In education, there are similar pressures to accept all aspects of evolutionary theory without critical questions.

      Should we allow the question?
      What happened when Michael Behe, a biochemist who is a proponent of design, submitted papers to science journals questioning the sufficiency of naturalistic evolution?  Some editors were interested, but groups were intolerant.  One editorial board concluded its rejection letter, "Our journal... believes that evolutionary explanations of all structures and phenomena of life are possible and inevitable."
      In an open-minded free science, the response would be different.  Behe's thought-provoking questions would be welcomed as a constructive challenge, an opportunity to gain a more complete understanding of evolution at the molecular level.  The journals (and their editors) would be eager to communicate new ideas, to host invigorating debates between critics of a theory and its loyal defenders.  In a community of scientists who are exploring freely, thinking flexibly, and dedicated to finding truth, Behe's tough questions would be used as a stimulus for critical analysis, creative thinking, and productive action.
      But a decision to allow questions can be a "bad career move" for a journal editor (an example) because the absence of design in scientific journals is the basis of an argument (an example from NCSE) that theories of design are not scientific — because they're not being proposed in science journals — so they should not be allowed in the science classes of public schools.  This argument produces a strong pressure to avoid breaking the "design barrier" by acknowledging the scientific legitimacy of design questions, such as those Behe asks about irreducible complexity, by allowing them in your journal.
      Should we ask the question?  In the near future, scientists will disagree about the plausibility of design, but conflicts are common in science, and can be productive.  It might be difficult to confidently answer the question, "Was design-directed action involved in producing this feature?"  But it should be easy to decide, "Should we ask the question?"  A curious, open-minded community will say "YES, we want our science to be flexible and open to inquiry, not rigid and closed by dogmatism.  /  Critical Thinking in Closed Science

      What difference would it make?
      Although design might significantly affect philosophy of science, it would have little impact on the overall productivity of science, because most areas of science are not affected by claims for design.  But in several historical areas — including origins of the universe, first life, and complex life — scientific evidence-and-logic shows that design deserves to be accepted, not as the only possible explanation, but as a potentially plausible explanation that is worthy of serious consideration and further development.  The potential of design theories to make valuable scientific contributions should be recognized and welcomed.
      If scientists like Behe were allowed to ask questions, and design perspectives were permitted in science, most scientists in the affected areas would continue their non-design research — probably with renewed vigor because they are responding to a challenge — when they hear a claim that "maybe a non-design explanation doesn't exist."  Proponents of design want to supplement non-design research, not replace it.  They want non-design research to continue so we can learn more, so we can more accurately evaluate the merits of non-design and design, because the goal is to find truth.


Can science influence worldviews?

      A page about the compatibility of science and religion asks, "If you learn and use science, will this weaken your faith?", and examines relationships between science and religion, natural process, miracles, and scientism.  In the next four sections (through Science and Scientism) are excerpts:

      Science and Religion (at war?)
      Painting a picture of "warfare" between science and religion is colorful and dramatic, and is appealing for many people, but is oversimplistic and inaccurate.  It does not accurately describe what really happened, and is rejected by modern historians such as David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers, who say: "The encounter between Christianity and science... is a complex and diverse interaction that defies reduction to simple 'conflict' or 'harmony' ...[and] the interaction varied with time, place, and person."

      Science and Natural Process
      In a Christian worldview, "natural" does not mean "without God" because God designed and created natural process, continually sustains its operation,... and can guide it so one natural result occurs instead of another natural result.  In the Bible, the actions of God are usually natural-appearing and occasionally miraculous-appearing.  Because natural process is the way God usually works, it is important for daily living and for science.

      Science and Miracles (Part 1)
      Does scientific logic indicate that rational people should reject Biblical reports of miracles?  No.  Why?  First, science does not claim that miracles are impossible. ... Second, miracles are compatible with the logical methods of science [because]... to do science effectively we need a world that is usually natural, but it doesn't have to be always natural. ... Christians can believe that science is a reliable source of knowledge about the world, and that miracles did occur in the Bible, do occur now, and might have occurred in the formative history of nature.  ..... [to be continued in Part 2]

      Science and Scientism
      We cannot compare scripture with science, but we can compare theology (a fallible human interpretation of scripture) with science (a fallible human interpretation of nature) while trying to search for truth.  In theology, the main goal is to understand spiritual realities.  In science, the main goal is to understand physical realities.  But the main goals aren't the only goals, and our theories about spiritual and physical realities are interactive: theology affects science and our views of physical reality, while science affects theology and our views of spiritual reality. ...
      As explained earlier [in the full page], Bible-based theology makes two major claims about physical reality. ... These theological beliefs are compatible with science (so they are not unscientific), but cannot be derived from science (so they are nonscientific). ...
      In principle, science can reach no scientific conclusions about the ultimate source of natural process.  And scientists should be humble about their naturalistic theories, and should remain open to the possibility of miracles.  But in practice our views of reality can be influenced by our perceptions of science and by the personal views of scientists. ...
      These claims about theology are not scientific conclusions, but they can exert an unhealthy spiritual influence on people who don't understand the difference between what science can and cannot logically conclude about theology.  Confusion occurs when we don't distinguish between science (our investigations of physical reality using observations, imagination, and logic) and scientism, which is "an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science... to provide a comprehensive unified picture of the meaning of the cosmos."  Science has earned our trust because it has been useful for understanding many aspects of physical reality and for developing technology.  But when this trust is extended into areas where it is not justified, science becomes scientism, and this can lead us to wrong conclusions. ...
      As explained below, "there are two rational ways to view historical science and miracles." ...  Each approach to science is rational and is compatible with Christian theism.  But either approach, when combined with scientism, can lead to a rejection of theism. ...  But each of these negative results [for faith] is caused by scientism, not science.  When a Christian rejects scientism, but embraces science, the result can be stronger faith.  When science is used wisely, to help us answer only appropriate questions, we learn more about God's creation, and this gives us more reasons to glorify God.

      The Errors of Mystical Physics
      Here is a source of influence that isn't related to the usual origins questions:  Since 1975, many popular "mystical physics" books have claimed that Quantum Physics lends scientific support to a pantheistic worldview of New Age beliefs about "creating your own reality."  These claims are based on speculations that are rejected by most scientists.
      And here are two pages I've written about this topic:  A non-mathematical Introduction to Quantum Physics will help you understand how — at the level of quantum effects — YES, things are very strange.  But in Common Sense Quantum Physics my scientific arguments against "mystical physics" explain why — at the level of everyday life — NO, things are not as strange as some people say they are.  { In addition, The Joy of Science is illustrated in letters between two prominent scientists who were pioneers in developing quantum physics. }  Excerpts from these three pages (and others) are in a page about The Worldview-Neutrality of Quantum Science (and the Worldview-Implications of Quantum Interpretations).

      Science and Miracles (Part 2)
      As explained earlier, "Christians can believe that science is a reliable source of knowledge about the world, and that miracles did occur... and do occur."  There are two rational ways to view historical science and miracles.  Among scientists and philosophers who are Christians, some support one approach and some think the other is better.
      In one approach, a scientific explanation cannot propose any miraculous-appearing supernatural action in the current operation of nature or in the formative history of nature.  This methodological naturalism (MN) is the usual "working assumption" in science.  Because scientists who adopt MN are eliminating one possibility, logic requires that they should also adopt MN-Humility by recognizing that a non-naturalistic theory might be correct, so with MN they are making if-then claims:  when they accept a naturalistic theory, they are claiming that if a feature (an object, organism, system, event,...) was produced by natural process, then this is how it occurred.  But the "if" is an assumption, adopted while doing science, so there is a possibility of miracles even though MN-science isn't considering and evaluating this possibility.  Christians can view MN-Science as one aspect of an open search that considers all possibilities without imposing restrictions on theorizing.
      In another approach, proponents of open science claim that — based on a scientific evaluation of evidence, using the logical methods of historical science — scientists can recognize the occurrence of design.  Scientists could conclude that undirected natural process was not sufficient to produce a particular observed feature, that instead design-action was used to convert a design-idea into the reality of a designed feature.  Since design-action can be either natural (as in making a bird nest or the faces on Mount Rushmore) or supernatural (as in Biblical miracles), a theory of design does not propose that a miracle has occurred, but does acknowledge this as a possibility.  In open science, a scientist begins with an MN-assumption, but does not insist on ending with an MN-conclusion unless this is justified by the evidence.  An open-thinking scientist replaces rigid-MN (which requires a naturalistic conclusion) with testable-MN by treating MN as a theory that can be tested, not a conclusion that must be accepted.
      With either approach, Christians can view science as a valuable resource that should be respected as an "expert witness" in our search for truth, but should not be the "judge and jury" when we're defining the way the world is, what is and isn't real, what can and cannot happen.

      Two Limits for Science
      As described above, MN is a proposed limit for what can claim to be science, while MN-Humility is a limit for what MN-Science can claim to explain.

      A Change of Mind
      In 1998, I was willing to support either of two approaches:  an open search (with a combination of MN plus MN-Humility, using a closed MN-Science as one part of an open search for truth) or an open science (treating naturalism as a theory to be tested, not a conclusion to be accepted in science).  Two years later, I concluded that it was more rational to reject rigid-MN, mainly because I had become convinced that — in a search for truth about nature — open science is better science, because we should let scientists use the entire process of science (including a logical evaluation of all competitive theories) when they are determining the conclusions of science.  Otherwise, evaluative bias will occur because scholars who advocate an open search will have a strong tendency to reduce their cognitive dissonance (as individuals and as a community) by claiming, in the non-science phase of the open search, that "we would have reached the same conclusion in a testable-MN open science" instead of admitting that "maybe the rigid-MN closed science we're advocating is wrong."
        Another reason to reject rigid-MN is the rarity and futility of humility.

      The Futility of Humility
      In principle, an open search (with MN-Science plus MN-Humility) is logically acceptable.  In practice, usually the result is not satisfactory because even when MN-Humility is acknowledged (which is rare) it is not effective.  Why?
      Think about what happens when a "non-scientific" design theory and a "scientific" non-design theory both claim to describe the same event, such as the origin of life.  Due to the cultural authority of science, the nonscientific theory is not respected because most people assume that, for a theory about nature, "not scientific" means "probably not true."  Instead, the scientific theory is assumed to be more plausible, even if the scientific evidence does not support it.  And in a classroom where "only science is taught," only the naturalistic non-design theory is taught, and it is taught as "the conclusion of science."

      Methodology can influence Philosophy
      In principle, methodology and worldview-philosophy can be independent.  In practice, they are interactive and each influences the other.
      In principle, an open search (conducted with MN-humility) can prevent the naturalistic methodology of MN-science from influencing our philosophical worldviews of "the way the world is, what is and isn't real, what can and cannot happen."
      In practice, methodology often influences our thinking because naturalistic assumptions automatically become naturalistic conclusions about "the way the world is according to science," and many people are influenced by science.

      Is methodological naturalism theologically acceptable?
      Is a naturalistic science compatible with Christianity?  Yes.  By defining terms carefully — by distinguishing between methodology and philosophy, and between naturalism and naturism — we see that Methodological Naturalism is not Philosophical Naturism:
    According to a non-theistic religious philosophy of naturism, nature is all that exists, with no God and no divine action, so everything that happens is caused by matter/energy in natural operation.  This philosophical naturism differs from methodological naturalism in two ways.  First, philosophical is not methodological;  a theist can adopt a naturalistic methodology (for the purpose of doing science) but not a naturalistic philosophy (about the way the world really is).  Second, naturism is not naturalism;  theists believe that natural process is designed, created, and sustained by God, and possibly is guided by God, so even though naturalism means "it all happened naturally" this does not mean "it all happened without God," which is the claim of naturism.

This section is from a page about Age of the Universe (why it does and doesn't matter):

      Can a young-earth view be dangerous to faith?
      Some prominent creationists claim that their young-earth interpretation of the Bible is necessary to provide a solid historical and theological foundation for Christianity.  They claim that "if the Bible is true, the earth is young" which is equivalent to stating that "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true."  This is unfortunate because:
      A) The link isn't justified.  There are valid reasons, based on careful linguistic and theological reasoning, for adopting old-earth interpretations of Genesis.  Although a belief that "God created everything" is essential, belief in a young earth is not.  A young-earth theory should never be elevated into a fundamental doctrine like the resurrection of Jesus.  In 1 Corinthians 15:14, Paul correctly links The Resurrection with The Gospel: "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."  But there should be no link with a young earth, because the full gospel of Jesus — including his deity, virgin birth and sinless human life, substitutionary atonement on the cross, death and resurrection, ascension into heaven, and second coming — is fully compatible with an old earth.
      B) If a person who thinks the Bible requires a young earth examines the scientific evidence and concludes "the earth is old," another conclusion may be that "if the Bible is wrong about the earth's age, maybe it's also wrong about the rest," and faith is weakened or abandoned. *  Therefore, Christians should not encourage (and should not accept) any implication — whether it is made by fellow Christians who want to strengthen the Gospel, or by non-Christians who want to discredit the Gospel — that "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true."  {* Later in this page, you can read about the personal experiences of a few of the many people who have struggled with this dilemma. }

And the following sections are from a page about Theistic Evolution and Theology that explains why, even though I don't think "totally natural evolution" is the way it happened, I think this view should be carefully considered, and evolutionary creationists (who think natural evolution was God's method of creation) should be treated with respect as fellow Christians:

      Naturalistic Theories and Interpretations
      In most fields of science — ranging from physiology (re: the chemistry and physics of life) to embryology (re: development from egg to adult) and meteorology (re: development of wind and weather, rain and snow) — there are no theological criticisms of scientists who accept naturalistic theories.  A theory of evolutionary creation just extends this general acceptance into another area. .....
      Scientifically, theistic evolution agrees with neo-Darwinism;  theologically, it is a theory of divine creation.  The conventional nontheistic interpretation of neo-Darwinism assumes that biological evolution was driven by only chance and selection, and was not guided by God.  { an example: NABT and "unsupervised evolution" Theology }   But theistic evolution can disagree with this extra-scientific claim of mainstream neo-Darwinism by proposing, not just a designing of natural process by God, but also a guiding of natural process by God.

      Religious Implications
      Advocates of theistic evolution (TE) span a wide range of theology, from generic deism to theistic Christianity.  If a person's aesthetic preference (that an "elegant God" would not interfere with nature) becomes theological belief (that God does not interfere with nature), it will be easier for this person to let their worldview drift from theism into deism, with a passive God who is not theistically active (who doesn't perform miracles and doesn't even guide the flow of natural events) in formative history, in biblical salvation history, or in our everyday lives.  This isn't a necessary result of TE, especially when its proponents emphasize the actions of God (both natural and miraculous) in salvation history, but sometimes these actions are not emphasized. .....
      Theistic evolution can be associated with theology that, in other ways, is either strong or weak.  A person with weak theistic beliefs will probably adopt TE, but this is not logically equivalent to a claim that a person who adopts TE has weak theistic beliefs.  Similarly, an atheist must believe in naturalistic evolution, so "if atheism then evolution" is true, but a reversed claim ("if evolution then atheism") is not true because some evolutionists are not atheists.  { To clearly understand this important principle of logic, think about why the true statement "all dogs are animals" cannot be reversed into a claim that "all animals are dogs" which is false because some animals are not dogs. }  Therefore, guilt by association — implying that since atheists are evolutionists, evolutionists must be atheists — is not logical and is not true.
      Or we can ask, "In society, what are the effects (psychological, sociological, ethical, spiritual,...) of a widespread belief in evolution?  In what ways does it affect the ideas and actions of individuals and societies?" ...  { This complex topic is very important, but it will not be discussed here. }


The section below is "in the middle" because it's relevant for both of the mutual influences:
      Why isn't God more obvious?
      Why is there any evidence — like a formative history with a general increase of biocomplexity and biodiversity, with features that give an appearance of common descent, and long delays (e.g., 3 billion years from the first life to the Cambrian Explosion) between major biostructural innovations — that might lead some rational people to propose "atheistic evolution" as an explanation?
      Maybe, as proposed in theories of evolutionary creation, the universe was designed so all creation would occur by natural process.
      Or maybe scientists would recognize the occurrence of miracles "miracles in formative history" would be recognized if scientific theories were not being constructed in a community biased by its methodological assumption that everything has occurred by natural process.
      Or maybe God did miracles during the process of creation, but the miracles were not obvious (so they're difficult to detect) as one aspect of a "state of uncertainty" intended by God, who seems to prefer a balance of evidence, with enough logical reasons to either believe or disbelieve, so a person's heart and will can make the decision.  Each person can use evidence (historical, personal, and scientific) to estimate the plausibility of various worldviews, but there is no logically rigorous proof for any worldview.  Therefore, we have freedom to choose what we really want, and an opportunity to develop the "living by faith" character that is highly valued by God, with a trust in God serving as the foundation for all thoughts and actions in daily living.  { Is there proof for God? }

If you're curious and you want to learn more about interactions between science and worldviews, check the "other pages" below.


This website for Whole-Person Education has TWO KINDS OF LINKS:
an ITALICIZED LINK keeps you inside a page, moving you to another part of it, and
 a NON-ITALICIZED LINK opens another page.  Both keep everything inside this window, 
so your browser's BACK-button will always take you back to where you were.

Here are other related pages:
For an overview, to see where this page
fits into the structure of other pages I've
written about these ideas, you can read
Science and Worldviews.

this page is

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