An entry-level approach to
Science &Christianity Studies
fear of the Lord is the
beginning of Wisdom." Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Gen. 1:1
"Upholding the Universe by His Word of Power" Hebrews 1:3
no man think upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied
or maintain, that a man can search too far, or be too well studied in
of God's word, or the book of God's works, divinity or philosophy: but
let men endeavor an endless progress or proficience in both; only let
... that they do not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings
(Sir Francis Bacon, 1605)
Christians believe that their faith touches all of life – including the study of nature
and the stewardship and the use
natural world for human welfare. Discussions about God and nature have
place with varying
degrees of intensity since the time of the
early church. For the most part, Christians
that faith and science should live in harmony when each is properly
However, as science
gained a deeper understanding of the natural world and became more
daily life, it opened many new possibilities for interaction and
with Christian beliefs.
describes these developments.
American Scientific Affiliation
established in 1941 to support
Christian students who found that they were unable to effectively
respond to challenging questions posed by college and university
faculty with little sympathy for the
Christian faith. Over the years the ASA's purpose has
include all Christians and anyone interested in the issues that are
addressed. We seek to make the resources of this web site useful for
those who are
looking for help with specific concerns or who may be turning to the
the first time. If you want to dig deeper, there is plenty of material
to further your understanding.
The rise of science in
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was accompanied by a diminishing
influence of the Church and the Bible and the turn to a secular
society where government, education and medicine became, for the most part,
independent of church structures and beliefs. Scholars continue to debate the
fine points of how this has played out in Europe and the Americas.
passed Americans saw science-religion questions become fodder for the
media in such widely separated events as the Tennessee
(1925), the recent
Dover PA School Board legal episode (2005), and the
Freshwater hearing ( 2011). The US 2008 and 2012 presidential
elections saw science and religion became part of the debates. The nomination of
Francis Collins for the post of Director of the NIH (2009) raised a
storm of protest from those opposed to his public Christian witness. Ironically,
the US Senate unanimously confirmed him to the post. Candidates for the US 2012
election have included various faith-science issues in their rhetoric. A
combative mix of science, Christianity, and politics does not offer the space
for serious study.
second decade of the 21st Century began,
there was an increasingly virulent sometimes science based opposition to Christianity
in the print media and on the web by the "new athiests." Interest in faith-science questions has
expanded from the apologetics of conservative Christianity to include liberal
and conservative Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, and beyond.
many American Christians feel endangered by the results of scientific
study and the
philosophical conclusions that some non-Christians have
drawn. Some include negativism toward parts of science as part of
a political package in the
wars. However, many Christians regard
science as a gift from God that can be of enormous value to the human
condition and are
working to use science in a God-honoring way in medicine, agriculture
innumerable other areas. They view being made in the image of God as a mandate
for these activities.
Christianity and the tooth fairy
Does science deal with reality and religion with everything else?
Video 55 min. a UCLA law
professor interviews an Oxford mathematician on the claims of Jesus
We will first offer some
basic ideas important when considering particular
Since most questions have roots in the
it is important to take
into account these earlier responses before we jump into the present
examining science-faith issues, we must appreciate the facts that
different people may come to different
conclusions when faced with the same evidence and that ( 2) the evidence (or
that we assess the evidence) may change over time. As one
digs (ponders), what may appear clear on the surface becomes
more complex and sometimes unsolvable
based on the information at hand. Our religious and educational
weigh heavily on how we think. This becomes very clear when one leaves home for
college. Humility and reserving judgment are valuable virtues when
examining science-faith questions or anything new in our experience.
believe that God has
revealed himself in nature as well as in the written word (sometimes
called the "Two
The ASA seeks to do
justice to both sources of revelation. However, tensions arise when the 'two books '
are brought to bear on a particular question; What role does each book take?
What happens when the books disagree? Are there areas of priority?
While it is important to
evaluate faith-science issues, we should also recognize that our redemption is
affected by our views in this arena. Also, the fact
that Christians disagree should not destroy
the fellowship that we have in Christ. Too often scientists, feel
isolated in their church or academic community because of their beliefs.
would be easier to function as
though modern science and the Bible had nothing to do with each other
matters involving morals and ethics, but that would ignore what
Russell described as
"...the battery of
historical data which point to a massive mutual debt
between science and Christianity."--Colin Russell, Cross-currents:
Between Science & Faith (1985), p. 20.
...the fact that Christians disagree
should not destroy the fellowship
that we have in Christ
material is offered to
students of all ages to help you to become
informed, perhaps make decisions, and
strengthen your faith. Whether
you are new to the subject or an
"old hand" finding this page for the first time, it is important that
you develop a grasp of the nature and use of both Scripture
and science before plunging into the issues that capture our mind today.
painting by Cristiano Banti (1857)
Do you believe that the sun is the center of our solar system? Why?
Very few people have ever carried out the measurements necessary to
determine that earth moves around the sun. Most of us simply accept it
by faith, backed by scientific authority. But what would we
believe if authorities told us that earth didn’t move? That is the
situation that Galileo found himself in 400 years ago. Though
Copernicus had already published his theory of a sun-centered universe, he
only had some elegant mathematics but .
. . → Read More: How
was Galileo converted?
Check out a surprising answer to the question: "
Lead to Atheism?"
Try one (or more) of these Short Videos
Creator or the Multiverse? Does the fine tuning of the universe point to God or an infinite collection of universes?
is Richard Dawkins so angry?
The Test of
Where are we today?
Evangelical and Catholic Interactions with Science,"
PSCF 60 (2008): 251.
CATHOLICISM AND SCIENCE
by Peter M. J. Hess and Paul L. Allen. Westport, CT:
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008.
EVANGELICALS AND SCIENCE
by Michael Roberts. Westport, CT: Greenwood
Publishing Group, 2008.
A broad comparative picture of a varied landscape
Larsen, Timothy, “‘War
Is Over, If You Want It’: Beyond the Conflict between Faith and Science,”
PSCF 60 (2008): 147. "The purpose
of this article is to help emerging scholars, especially in the sciences, to
reframe the issue of the relationship between faith and learning in a productive
way. While critiques of the warfare model exist in the specialized literature of
the history of science, the presumption of conflict continues to dominate in the
media and in popular conversations in both secular and religious contexts. As a
result, young scholars have often imbibed this model themselves as an accurate
portrait of the way things are, and they usually do not have a clear, up-to-date
reflection on the relationship of faith and learning to put in its place."
Collection of Discussions of recent science-Christianity books and blogs
This frequently updated collection offers summaries and
comments on works related to current evangelical discussions by the (bashful)
RJS and occasionally by Scott McKnight. The strings of reader comments are
often equally valuable. Take a look at the list, prepare your coffee, then plunge in.
Doctrine of Scripture
Our understanding of scripture is key to
building a Christian
that includes revelation in nature. Yet we must recognize the struggle
that this has been for Christians since the time of the early church
fathers and before. Shades of difference in interpretive views and the cultural
surroundings of local churches may set the stage for confrontation that
builds walls of misunderstanding. We ask that you consider what may
be new, and perhaps,
ideas, before drawing your own
You may remember the song, The
B-I-B-L-E, from the Church nursery class or in your home. The words
B-I-B-L-E; yes that's the book for me.
I stand alone on the Word of God.
The doctrine of Scripture is vitally
important; for it is through the instrumentality of the Word (preached and
read) that God saves us and causes us to grow in the grace that is
in Christ Jesus. Only through the Scriptures do we have the knowledge of
God in Jesus Christ. While we claim that scripture is the final authority on
faith and practice,
the problem remains in making that affirmation a living reality through
sound interpretation and consistent application
to life's situations – which include the challenge of science.
value the Bible and questions of biblical interpretation have continued to
cause divisions among the people of God who seek to relate scientific
advances and the Bible. On one hand, some thinkers feel that the Bible has no
relation at all to the day-to-day work of the scientist. Others believe
that scripture has much to say about particular details of interest to
scientists but insist that the biblical picture holds priority when the
two sources of information appear to conflict.
Others feel that the picture is more complex and emphasize the need to
carefully examine the points of disagreement and withhold judgment
until better information is available.
The Gutenberg Bible at
the Ransom Center
While we claim that scripture is the
final authority in faith and practice, the problem remains of making that affirmation a living
reality through sound interpretation and consistent application to life's
situations – which include the challenges of science.
We will start
with the assumption that the Bible and science have some overlapping interests.
The Bible speaks of beginning, scientists are interested in how the universe
and it's contents came to be; the Bible speaks of right behavior,
scientists need principles to guide their practices, and so on.
Today one may
find many different attitudes toward scripture. For some the Bible is the actual Word of God; others, claim
the Bible contains the word of God; while
others see the Bible as a wide-ranging human document that
is one among
many similar ancient documents.
"(strict) literalist" view
maintains that the meaning of Scripture is obvious and needs no
On the other hand, the "critical"
(sometimes called "historical") view maintains that a scientific
study of languages, culture,
history, archaeology, etc. is necessary to overcome the vast
distance in time and culture between the present and the actual Bible
events. While the latter
approach may seem reasonable, evangelicals have often been wary or negative
toward critical methods of
reading the Bible because of the role they have played in fostering unbelief -
the modernism of the early 20th Century.
noteworthy that the "literalists" of the reformation period recognized the use of literary
such as poetry,
by the biblical writers as well the need for
methods as tools for understanding the deeper
meanings of scripture.
Some have charged that biblical criticism
originated with anti-Christian writers who valued reason and logic over
faith and revelation, whose goal was to discredit and ridicule the Bible
and Christianity. Their analysis techniques were picked up by some liberal
theologians and used to explain away and discount biblical
accounts of prophecy, miracles, personal demons, etc. However,
methods of analysis to understand scripture in it's purpose, historical
context, and content related
to the natural world.
Hermeneutics relates to the subject of how one is to understand Holy Scripture. By
definition, this is a
act, i.e. part of the discussion of a faith-community. This does not mean that it is of no relevance to those who do not
themselves to be part of that community, but rather that it is an issue
arises out of the particular views of that community. Therefore one
differentiate between Christian and
hermeneutics etc., even though there is an overlap between the two, since they share part of their scriptures.
arise out of different faith traditions which developed their own notion of hermeneutics. It must also be stressed that theological differences between these faith communities
"preclude any 'definitive'
statement' on biblical hermeneutics - in spite of the erudition and passion of
particular advocates." ASA members and those who write for PSCF
predominately come from the broad evangelical tradition - their work
reflects the issues of the day and their struggles to live and think as
Christians in a
complex arena. Our purpose is to discuss a range of science related
topics but we often seem stuck on origins (evolution) related questions - as is the case for
evangelicals in general.
Evangelical theologians are actively engaged in studying the influence of Ancient Near Eastern (ANE)
documents on the early
Old Testament, as well as the literary forms in which Genesis was written. Time will tell whether these conclusions will join earlier interpretations that have challenged Christians seeking to
link scientific accounts of the past with the biblical record. John Walton's
The Lost World of Genesis One (2009) offers a fresh approach;
that the people in the ancient world would believe that something existed not
by virtue of its material properties, but by virtue of its having a function
in an ordered system (p. 26)." Yet the
September 2010 Issue of
PSCF illustrates anew the difficulty in achieving agreement on Genesis.
Nothing is more highly
debated in evangelical circles than the
way that the early chapters
of Genesis relate to the history and
the world as we know it.
Ways of Relating Scripture and Science
Concordism is the hermeneutical
scripture and true science are in agreement. It takes the Bible in
a more or less literal - chronological fashion and seeks to
that reading of the Bible which written in a pre-scientific ancient near east
culture. Many evangelicals hold a concordist
approach is found today in
creationism and various apologetic ministries.
One value seen in this strategy is
that proving that modern science aligns
with the Bible provides powerful evidence for the inspiration
of scripture and support for Christian apologetics and evangelism
Science is seen as providing a corrective for earlier "naïve"
descriptions of creation and providence and the role of humans in
nature. Inevitably, questions of biblical and scientific authority
emerges. In some eyes this amounts to tinkering with
scientific data and/or the biblical text to achieve agreement - always
hoping for a new scientific discovery or fresh biblical
interpretation that would close the gap.
tradition views the Bible and science as providing two kinds of
Bible provides a picture of the Creator, His purpose and plan for creation and
redemption of a fallen humanity
science offers details and concepts of the World that are refined and transformed as
information is received. 2
This approach seems to avoid conflict but
fails to engage a biblical response to the nature of humanity and the
role of humans in this world.
A third view is found in the reformation belief that "scripture
alone interprets scripture" (sola scriptura).
Here one begins with not with hermeneutics but with the more
fundamental level of religious presuppositions - a biblical world
Christians from congregations and
organizations which encourage this "third view" have
developed numerous ways to interpret the early chapters of Genesis -
a confusing start for those new to this field.
A fourth view seems to be
gathering strength in the early 21st Century as the challenges of
genetics and paleontology build new tensions between evolution and
Christianity and our desire to keep the Bible and natural science in
"conversation." Evolution is seen as a "game changer" - a
literal/historical reading of Genesis will not do - unless we want
to reject the scientific evidence.
Carolyn Arends' recent
Christianity Today essay illustrates a
The pages of PSCF reflect
the diversity of
strategies for relating scripture and nature.2 We often hear the cry
that the Word of God always gives in to the word of science. Yet we
forget that there have often been good reasons for this. Christians of
an earlier time and some today have been all too willing to espouse
fanciful unfounded descriptions of nature in an attempt to save favored
models of biblical interpretation. At this stage of our
understanding it may be appropriate to recognize that
there are numerous ways of approaching faith-science questions that
to the Bible rather than insisting that a particular choice trumps all others.
Paul Marsten ,
Understanding the Biblical Creation Passages, 2007 Lifesway 60pp., ebook,
pdf . This very readable e-book offers insight into the ways that
current scholars approach the interpretation of the Genesis passages.
may hold a concordist position on
historical narratives as found in
Gen. 1-3 even though the chronology of the story is
figurative. It is the
actual characters and the events which are historical in a concordistic
The letters of Seeley and
are just the tip of the iceberg of debate.
Vern Polytherysis, and
John Collins represent this position.
At this stage of our collective
understanding of it may be appropriate to recognize that there are numerous ways
of approaching faith-science questions that are faithful to the Bible rather
than insisting that a particular choice trumps all others.
Two Biblical Hermeneutics
1. The Baylor 2009 ASA Annual Meeting
62 Number 3 September 2010
|Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why
||Collins, C. John
|Genesis and the Genome: Genomics Evidence
for Human-Ape Common Ancestry and Ancestral Hominid Population Sizes
||Venema, Dennis R.
|After Adam: Reading Genesis in an Age of
||Harlow, Daniel C.
|Recent Genetic Science and Christian
Theology on Human Origins: An "Aesthetic Supralapsarianism"
||Schneider, John R.
2. Concordism and a Biblical Alternative: An
Examination of Hugh Ross’s Perspective (2007)
Concordism and a Biblical Alternative: An Examination of Hugh Ross’s Perspective PSCF 59 (March
Explanations on Concordism: A Response to Paul Seely’s Critique
PSCF 59 (March 2007):46.
Reading Modern Science into Scripture
Carol A. Hill,
Alternative to Concordism and Divine Accommodation: The Worldview Approach
(June 2007): 129.
Paul H. Seely,
Four Days of Genesis in Concordist Theory and in Biblical Context,
PSCF 49 (June
Moderate concordism's interpretation of the days of
Genesis is derived from modern science. The correlation of Gen. 1:1 with the
"Big Bang" has a certain legitimacy; but, concordism's interpretation of the
days themselves takes Genesis 1 out of its historical and biblical context.
Concordism achieves a concord between modern science and the Bible only
because it has rewritten the Bible to agree with modern science. From a biblical standpoint there is no need to take the
Bible out of context in such a radical way as concordism does. Biblical
inspiration, according to the teaching of Jesus, sometimes encompasses
concession to human weakness even in the area of morals (Mark 10:5), how
much more then in the area of science, the discovery of which God has
delegated to man (Genesis 1:28). Scripture and science complement each
Early Humans, Adam, and Inspiration
David F. Siemens, Jr.,
Extended Humpty Dumpty Semantics and Genesis 1
Biblical Chronology: Legend Or
Science? (The Ethel M. Wood
Lecture 1987. Delivered at the Senate House, University of London on 4
March 1987. London: University of London, 1987).
Peter Enns, “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Dosen’t Say About Human Origins,”
Brazos Press, paper (2012).
C. John Collins, "Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You
Crossway Books, paper (2011).
Gregory K. Beale,
"The Erosion of
Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical
Crossway Books. paper (2008).
C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary 318 pp., ISBN: 0875526195,
(2005) P & R Publishing, Paperback.
W. Robert Godfrey, God's Pattern for Creation: A Covenantal Reading of Genesis 1. 144 pages. ISBN: 087552799X, 2003, P & R Publishing, Paperback.
Lee Irons & Meredith Kline, in "The Genesis Debate," ed. David Hagopian, 2001, Crux Press, Paperback.
James McKeown, Genesis The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary
ISBN-10: 0802827055, 2008, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
John Walton, Genesis, NIV Application Commentary, 2001.
Richard H. Bube, "Towards A Christian View Of Science," JASA 23:(March 1971): 1-4.
An ASA Classic
Peter Enns, Preliminary Observations on an Incarnational Model of Scripture, Calvin Theological Journal 42 (2007), pp. 219-236.
Meredith Kline, Space
and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony PSCF 48: (March 1996): 2-15.
Clark H. Pinnock, "The
Ongoing Struggle Over Biblical Inerrancy," JASA 31 (June 1979): 69-74.
Walter R. Thorson, "Hermeneutics for Reading the Book of Nature 55 PSCF (June
Doctrines of Creation and
fundamental planks in a
Christian world view are the Doctrines of Creation
While these doctrines are widely
held beliefs, the details continue to vex theologians and scientists
each seeks to make sense of the world around us
from the ASA Commission on Creation (2000)
Creation which it was felt to reflect the general
thinking of the ASA
community and several more statements representing narrower
views on the
details of creation. One might think that biblical and
could have gotten together and forged a definitive statement on origins
than a grocery list but the issues are too complex to achieve accord.
time. We can agree on the who and perhaps the when
but the how is speculative. We
see patterns in nature and marvel at
its detailed interworkings, harmony, and beauty as those created in the
God but the details elude us.
"As the pinnacle of God's
activity, humans stand responsible for their stewardship of fellow
the earth. Indeed, a helpful corrective which has emerged in
theology is the recognition that the cosmos is neither "mere nature"
nor "our world," but is most properly "God's creation."
Humans are granted a high degree of delegated agency within God's
it remains fundamentally God's alone. This affirmation underlines the
charge of stewardship to humankind by the Creator."
"Creation is not a brute fact without meaning. It derives its
meaning from the
divine character and will. As the theater of God's redemptive activity,
is not static, but is moving toward the goal established by the Creator
the foundation of the universe. Creation, like the humans within it,
future." (R. Albert Mohler, Jr.,)
Creation in the
Creed. (roots in apostolic times) I
believe in God the
Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
Baptist Confession of Faith
In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy
for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, 2
and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or
invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good. 3
1 John 1:2,3;
Heb. 1:2; Job 26:13, 2 Rom.
1:20, 3 Col.
1:16; Gen. 1:31
We believe that the Father,
deeming it good,
created heaven and earth and all other creatures
by the Word--that is to say,
by the Son.
God has given all creatures
their being, form, appearance,
and their various functions
for serving their Creator.
God also sustains and governs them all,
by his eternal divine providence,
and by infinite divine power,
that they may serve humanity,
in order that humanity may serve God.
Belgian Confession of 1561 ...Article
2: The Means by Which We Know God
by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that
universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures,
great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the
invisible things of God: his eternal power and his divinity,
as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20. All these things are enough to convict
men and to leave them without excuse.
Second, he makes himself known to
us more openly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life,
for his glory and for the salvation of his own.
Articles Of Religion (1615)
18. In the beginning
of time when no creature had any being, God by his word alone, in the
space of six days, created all things, and afterwards by his providence
doth continue, propagate, and order them according to his own will.
19. The principal creatures are Angels and men.
20. Of Angels, some continued in that holy state wherein
they were created, and are by Gods grace for ever established therein:
others fell from the same, and are reserved in chains of darkness unto the
judgment of the great day.
21. Man being at the beginning created according to the
image of God (which consisted especially in the Wisdom of his mind and the
true Holiness of his free will) had the covenant of the law ingrafted in
his heart: whereby God did promise unto him everlasting life, upon
condition that he performed entire and perfect obedience unto his
Commandments, according to that measure of strength wherewith he was
endued in his creation, and threatened death unto him if he did not
perform the same.
Nicene Creed. (381 A.D.) I believe in one God, the Father
Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and
WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of
the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning,
create or make of nothing the world, and all things therein, whether
invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good. II.
After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male
with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge,
true holiness after his own image, having the law of God written in
hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of
being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto
Besides this law written in their hearts, they received a command not
to eat of
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept were
their communion with God, and had dominion over the
ARTICLE I: "I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"
Paragraph 4. The Creator
279 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."116 Holy Scripture begins with these solemn words.
The Profession of Faith takes them up when it confesses that God the Father almighty is "Creator of heaven and earth" (Apostles' Creed), "of all that is, seen and unseen" (Nicene Creed). We shall speak first of the Creator, then of creation and finally of the fall into sin from which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to raise us up again.
280 Creation is the foundation of "all God's saving plans," the "beginning of the history of salvation"117 that culminates in Christ. Conversely, the mystery of Christ casts conclusive light on the mystery of creation and reveals the end for which "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth": from the beginning, God envisaged the glory of the new creation in Christ.118
question of Gods relation to the World; it is the most
and difficult in the compass either of theology or of philosophy. The
meaning thereby the universe of created beings, includes the world of
the world of mind. The doctrine of providence concerns, first, the
God to the external or material universe; and
secondly, his relation to the
world of mind, or to his rational creatures.
in the Creeds and Confessions
Belgic Confession (1619)
that the same God, after He had created all things, did not forsake
them or give them up to fortune or chance, but that He rules and
governs them according to His holy will, so that nothing happens in
this world without His appointment; nevertheless, God neither is the
Author of nor can be charged with the sins which are committed. For His
power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he orders and
executes His work in the most excellent and just manner, even then when
devils and wicked men act unjustly. And as to what He does surpassing
human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into farther than
our capacity will admit of, but with the greatest humility and
reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us,
contenting ourselves that we are pupils of Christ, to learn only those
things which He has revealed to us in His Word, without transgressing
This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation,
since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but
by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father; who watches
over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under His power
that “not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow
can fall to the ground without the will of our Father,” in whom we do
entirely trust; being persuaded that He so restrains the devil and all
our enemies that without His will and permission they cannot hurt us.
therefore, we reject that damnable error of the Epicureans, who say
that God regards nothing but leaves all things to chance.
Confession of Baptist Faith 1689
I. God the good creator of all
things, in His infinite power and wisdom, doth uphold, direct, dispose,
and govern all His creatures and
things, 1] from the greatest even to the least,[ 2] by His most wise
and holy providence, to the end for which they were created, according
unto His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel
of His own will; to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power,
justice, infinite goodness, and
mercy.  1. Heb. 1:3; Job 38:11; Isa. 46:10-11; Psa.
135:6, 2. Matt.
10:29-31, 3. Eph. 1:11.
II. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of
God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and
infallibly;  so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or
providence; [ 5] yet by the same providence He ordereth them to fall
out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily,
contingently.  4. Acts 2:23, 5. Prov.
6. Gen. 8:22
III. God, in His ordinary providence maketh use of means ,
 yet is free to work
without,  above,  and against them  at His
pleasure. 7. Acts 27:31, 44; Isa. 55:10-11, 8. Hosea
1:7, 9. Rom. 4:19-21,
10. Dan. 3:27
Confession of Faith (1646)
great Creator of all things doth
uphold,[ a] direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and
things, [b] from the greatest even to the
least, [c] by His most wise and holy providence,[ d] according to His
foreknowledge, [ e] and the free and immutable counsel of
his own will, [f] to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power,
justice, goodness, and mercy, [g] [a]. Neh. 9:6; Ps.
145:14-16; Heb. 1:3, [b]. Dan. 4:34-35; Ps. 135:6; Acts
17:25-28; Job 38:1-41:34,
[c]. Matt. 10:29-31, see Matt. 6:26-32, [d]. Prov. 15:3; II Chron.
16:9; Ps. 104:24; Ps. 145:17, [e]. Acts 15:18;
Isa. 42:9; Ezek. 11:5, [f] Eph. 1:11; Ps. 33:10-11,
[g]. Isa. 63:14; Eph. 3:10; Rom. 9:17; Gen. 45:7; Ps. 145:7
The Nature and Practice
a scientist friend to define science and you will be surprised by the response. What seems easy to explain and obvious to anyone takes many twists and turns when one is active in scientific research or engages in "philosophical analysis" about how science works.
Here is a carefully written discussion of the nature of science by
Helen Quinn, a theoretical physicist at SLAC in Physics Today,
....thoughts from other authors:
Science is an intellectual activity carried on by humans that is designed to discover information about the natural world in which humans live and to discover the ways in which this information can be organized into meaningful patterns. A primary aim of science is to collect facts (data). An ultimate purpose of science is to discern the order that exists between and amongst the various facts.
involves more than the gaining of knowledge. It is the systematic and organized inquiry into the natural
world and its phenomena.
Science is about gaining a deeper and often useful understanding of the world.
Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the
infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceding generation . ..As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.
To do science is to
search for repeated patterns, not simply to accumulate facts.
signposts. No, we are in a jungle and find
our way by trial and error, building
our roads behind us as we proceed. We do not find sign-posts at
our own scouts erect them, to help the rest.
is a culture of
faith; science is a culture of doubt.
fuel on which science runs is ignorance. Science is like a hungry furnace
that must be fed
logs from the forests of ignorance that surround us. In the process,
clearing that we call knowledge expands, but the more it expands, the
perimeter and the more ignorance comes into view. . . . A true
bored by knowledge; it is the assault on ignorance that motivates him -
mysteries that previous discoveries have revealed. The forest is more
interesting than the clearing.;
philosophical high-road in science, with
stumbling way in which even the ablest
of the scientists in every generation have had to fight through
erroneous observations, misleading generalizations,
inadequate formulations, and unconscious prejudice is rarely
those who obtain their scientific knowledge from textbooks.
Regardless of the diverse ways that
scientists describe their task and the ways this plays out in their own
experience, it is clear that science is both understanding and doing -
making sense of nature and making "better things for better living" as
the earlier du Pont slogan proclaimed. The interweaving of
to discover the mechanism of a disease and the search for a cure
complexity of the scientific enterprise.
of us take our ideas about the nature
of science from
Bacon- who lived four centuries ago. For
Bacon, science is the objective pursuit of reliable knowledge.
Although one might "know" something through authority, faith, or
scientific method is distinct in that it must be possible for other
investigators to ascertain the truth of scientific theories. It is
founded on objective observation,
the formulation of hypotheses that fit the data and predict other
repeatable experiments that can fail as well as succeed,
and analysis and review by the scientific community. Baconian science rests
ultimately on pure, objective dispassionately collected observational data
followed by the application of special logical procedures to those data in
order to produce scientific theories. This set of stringent procedures
constituted the 'scientific method.' - something you learned by 8th grade.
view of science achieved
dominance, becoming practically the official conception by the
early 20th century, and still underlies many popular ideas about
science. But however
attractive its promises, Baconian inductivism is in fact irreparably
disintegrating at nearly every point when examined by philosophers. Among its many problems are
There simply is no form of logic by which theories, laws, and the like
inferred from empirical data; and (b) empirical procedures cannot
certainty upon any scientific theory.
following summary of an article by
Philosopher of Science,
forth the current situation:
only way to test proposed theories or hypotheses was to
deduce experimental or other observational predictions from the theory
hypothesis (hence the term hypothetico-deductivism), then see whether
or not the
predictions matched observed reality, thereby confirming or
theory. Hypothetico-deductivists believed that although theories could
proved true, they could at least be empirically confirmed.
everyone agreed, A number of people (claiming to follow
Popper) concluded for technical, logical
reasons that theories could not
even be confirmed, much less proved. But in their view, science could
prove specific theories to be false by uncovering empirical
data contrary to
predictions of those theories. Unfortunately, even this modest claim
to be too strong.
it was almost universally believed that
perception was neutral, in the sense that genuinely honest and careful
observation was unaffected by beliefs, presupposition, philosophical
preferences, or similar factors. This neutrality guaranteed the
utter trustworthiness of empirical data, which constituted the secure
of science. But that perceived neutrality came
under attack in the mid-20th
century. Thomas Khun,
for example, argued that perception itself was an active--not a
passive--process, deeply colored by the broader conceptual matrices, or
paradigms, to which one had prior allegiances - context counts!
This view not only destroyed the allegedly rigid,
logical structure of science, but also threatened the pure
objectivity of its
foundation. Furthermore, paradigms influenced not only
perception, but also
theory evaluation and acceptance, conceptual resources, normative
within science, and a host of other consequential matters. And,
Kuhn, paradigms were partially defined by, among other things, metaphysical
commitments and values. Thus, non-empirical, human-suffused
seeped into the no-longer-inviolable scientific method at all levels,
empirical bedrock to theoretical pinnacle. One consequence of
was that no amount of (even pure) empirical data could point to just
one adopted a realist stance toward theories,
claiming that some specific scientific theory was actually true, rather
merely a useful model, the selection of that specific theory had to
least implicitly) factors beyond just the empirical. Kuhn's own list of
operative non-empirical principles was relatively tame--simplicity,
fruitfulness, measurability, accuracy, and the like. But some
went much further, claiming, for instance, that the very heart
contained political agendas, social biases, dominance hierarchies,
prejudices, and so on. But what can no longer be
denied is that a science with
utter objectivity, absolute logical rigidity, and purely empirical
is not an attainable ideal. Most contemporary
mainline commentators argue that
despite the unavoidable dependence of science upon resources other than
empirical data and reason, scientific results can still claim
rational justification and epistemic legitimacy.
objectivity, and warrant
may be less than absolute, even less than many fervently hope, but
still get at theoretical truth. A tempered realism still seems
Realist claims are plausible only if we have grounds for confidence in
perceptual and cognitive structures that, inescapably, function within
Further, the principle of
underdetermination of theory by
data indicates that science requires a conceptual
environment extended beyond
the merely empirical. Historically, that indispensable
confidence and conceptual
richness was drawn from religious principals.
Some current historians argue
that without the broader Christian conceptual matrix, modern science
have arisen. Ideally, a worldview should be a unified, integrated
whole. But for
much of the 20th century, many people thought that religion and science
simply irrelevant to each other. At worst, religion was seen as
rearguard action against the seemingly inexorable advance of a science
to conceptually engulf everything it touched.
is now recognized
at least partially embedded in a wider conceptual context and (2)
drawing resources from that wider context. Science can thus be locked
place within a number of different worldviews, with advocates of each
that it confirms their particular view.
There are many who insist on
version of methodological naturalism--that whatever the ultimate
reality, genuine science as science must (either definitional or
be completely detached from everything other than the purely natural.
cases for such prohibitions are increasingly difficult to construct,
some secular thinkers now admit that there are no compelling reasons
Christian thought cannot contribute to a legitimate conceptual context
Thus, it seems that empirical data and
science is pretty much an imaginary idea. What we are really dealing
with is interpretations of data and science within philosophical foundations.
include Ontological Naturalism, Methodological Naturalism, and even
(typically, Young Earth Creationism). Old Earth Creationism apparently
finds its foundation in Methodological
There are many who insist on some version of methodological naturalism--that
whatever the ultimate metaphysical reality, genuine science as science must
(either definitional or practical) be completely detached from everything
other than the purely natural.
Charles (Chuck) F. Austerberry,
A view from
the ASA Listserve, (2008) The thoughts of a
A further pair of blog comments
Science Falsely So Called
by "Benjamin" August 25,
The Theories of Natural Selection
and Evolution are not science because they cannot be tested. They fall into the
philosophical realm of tautology. A tautology is a formula whose negation is
unsatisfiable. Karl Popper (1902-1994) wrote extensively about this problem to
the irritation of evolutionists. Although they disagreed with him, they were
never able to negate his philosophically arguments. Karl Popper famously stated
"Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research
program. One of his greatest critiques of evolutionists is that they only looked
for evidence to support their theory. True scientific method searches for other
evidence, forms other hypotheses and seeks to disprove the favored hypothesis.
None of this is allowed in the field of evolutionary studies. Strangely, as
critical as Popper was of evolutionary science, he remained committed
Response It's "Only a
by javadave61, August 25, 2010
Benjamin... The fact is, evolution
is a theory to explain numerous facts, not a single fact to be tested in a
laboratory. Christians often argue that "evolution is only a theory, not a
fact," as if it's some nebulous philosophy. When we say those things, we
completely embarrass ourselves. Evolution is indeed "only a theory," BUT a
theory is higher than a fact, for a theory explains all the facts. We don't say
that the theory of gravity is "only a theory." The theory of gravity will never
grow up into a fact. All the creation scientists have to do is produce one fact
that does not fit within the theory of evolution, and the theory will be changed
or undone. In fact, science is a very competitive field, and you only make a
name for yourself by proving that something someone said before you is wrong.
Scientists would LOVE a verifiable test that can be repeated in a laboratory
that would fit outside the theory of evolution so a newer, more comprehensive
theory can take its place. In fact, I believe someday that will come. Just as
the theory of gravity was subsumed into the far more encompassing theory of
relativity, so the theory of evolution will continue to be expanded to give us a
clearer picture of the workings of nature.
But to call it a mere philosophy
that isn't falsifiable is misguided. All a creation scientist has to do is head
into laboratory with a primitive form of bacteria and let these bacteria
reproduce for a period of ten years. An entire generation of bacteria live and
die within about a 24 hour period. Over a period of years, thousands of
generations pass, giving us a chance to observe evolution in a fast forward
mode. All creation scientists have to do is conduct this experiment and
demonstrate that no evolution has occurred. But in fact, scientists have already
done this with upwards of 30,000 generations of bacteria reproduction and have
seen repeatable and predictable evolutionary changes in the bacteria. In fact,
this happens with viruses, which is why we have to have a different flu shot
each year. We kill the viruses, but the mutated generations live to evolve into
a new strain. If you believe evolution is a false philosophy, don't get your flu
But here's where God screams out
his name. Each time these bacteria tests have been done, these bacteria evolve
in nearly the same way each time. What this demonstrates is that evolution is
not "random," but directed. That shows intelligence and purpose. Rewind the
clock of time, refire the big bang, and eventually, you'd have upright
intelligent creatures that are fully self-aware and capable of knowing and
worshiping God. Evolution may appear random on a micro scale, but the broader
picture reveals purpose and design. Unfortunately, we Christians have
surrendered the territory known as science and have left Dawkins and company to
interpret the data to a new generation of future atheists. We will answer for
M. van der Meer, "The
Struggle Between Christian Theism, Metaphysical Naturalism And
To Proceed In Science? Pascal Centre, Redeemer
College Ancaster, Ontario
Canada 1995. A thesis
arguing that Christians are mistaken in their belief that material
be understood without reference to non-material created causes, such as
to non-material uncreated causes, such as God.
One of the enjoyable aspects of relating science and
Christianity is the ever-changing challenge of new discoveries.
Environmental questions, medical advances, astronomy, neuroscience, and the
social sciences offer new challenges for reflection. None of us can
be an expert on everything, but we can cultivate ways of thinking and
attitudes that allow us to be a productive part of the discussions .
is a clear analogy between the limitations on the scientist and those
on the theologian. The scientist must submit his]her mind to the data of
experiment, the theologian must submit his to the data of revelation.
The word “data” means “the things that are given.” Both the religious
person and the scientist accept givens. The givens may perplex. They
may seem difficult to bring into harmony with each other or with what
is known on other grounds. They may throw all our theories into
confusion. But accepting the data must come before progress in
understanding. That is why the words of St. Augustine apply, in a way,
to the scientist as much as to the theologian: credo ut
intelligam, “I believe in order that I may understand.”
see in science something akin to religious faith. The scientist has
confidence in the intelligibility of the world. He has questions about
nature. And he expects—no, more than expects, he is absolutely
convinced—that these questions have intelligible answers. The fact that
he must seek those answers proves that they are not in sight. The fact
that he continues to seek them in spite of all difficulties testifies
to his unconquerable conviction that those answers, although not
presently in sight, do in fact exist. Truly, the scientist too walks by
faith and not by sight."- Stephen
If this discussion has caught your attention you may want to
turn next to the
close this page with several useful
articles and materials on science and a number of short autobiographies
A recent web site from our British cousins,
seeks to reach the younger generation.
for All Americans: Book about Science Literacy
By Project 2061 - American Association for the Advancement of Science. A Short volume covering the basics of science.
a useful source of
Mark Strand, "Transcultural
Issues in Science," PSCF (March
Jonathan Sacks, "Power
& Responsibility: Science, Humanity and Religion in
the 21st century," Faraday
Institute Lecture (11/25/2004)
Arie Leegwater, 'Giving
and Receiving': Charles A.
Coulson's Witness as a Christian Scientist.
(MP3) a presentation at the ASA/CIS Edinburgh Meeting, 2007
personal view of the spiritual and
scientific odysseys of ASA members and
friends. Please send us yours.