This post is a little more "technical" than most of our posts and deals with a controversial subject. So, at the onset, let me say that this post is coming from three philosophical premises: 1) Mankind is finite and has an understanding more limited than it realizes (the saying "the more I know the more I know how little I know" is a true saying in my book). 2) God draws us to Him and evidences Himself through grace, faith and the spirit...not science. Science can be a powerful tool in "giving an account" for our faith (from a Christian worldview God evidences Himself very powerfully through nature...see Psalm 19) but faith and worldview determines our earth and science view. 3) It is important that we, as Christians, evaluate "science" with a humble recognition of our fallibility and not build "our house" on the sands of science.
There is a danger to shutting off the part of our brain that asks and answers the important questions of life. There are indeed fundamentals of the faith of which we should be fully persuaded of and from which we should not ever, for even a moment, budge, but there are a million and one questions beyond those fundamentals towards which we would do well to keep an open and humble mind.
That said, enough prefacing!
Charles Savelle, a man I admire and whose teaching and ministry I have been blessed to sit under (some of you may have seen the 'BibleX' blog on the "Fellow Thinkers" sidebar) has posted thoughtful commentary on a similarly thought-provoking article. For simplicities sake, I'll simply post Mr. Savelle's commentary and link the article in question, but I highly encourage you to read the article (it's not long) and give it some thought. Whether you agree with it in its entirety is somewhat beside the point...the point being that it offers a thoughtful perspective on the role of science in faith.
Science and the Bible
I am not anti-science. In fact, one of my earliest ambitions was to be a scientist and the field in general still fascinates me. But, I am not comfortable with the way the science card is sometimes played in biblical studies. An example would be how science (e.g., the theories of evolution, age of the earth, etc.) is sometimes used in the debate about Creation (e.g., Gen 1-2). While I agree with those who state that the Bible is not a scientific text book per se, I would also suggest that science is not an infallible evaluator of what is found in Scripture. One reason for my skepticism is simply that the assured results of the scientific enterprise is not as assured as many think it is. Read this.
So what’s the point of this post? Good question! Beyond sharing some good thoughts/resources, I would say the point I would like to make in this post is as follows.
I Peter 3:15 has an interesting phrasing that I believe offers insight here. In prefacing the well known phrase quoted in the previous sentence, Peter challenges us to "sanctify" or "separate" Christ in our hearts (The NIV uses "separate" while most of the other major translations I looked at used "sanctify"), and then to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within. I find this both interesting and noteworthy because it demonstrates a priority.
For Christians, when trying to understand how and if to use science to glorify God and advance His Kingdom on earth, the first priority is to hold to Christ and the Gospel, to live a life of faithful righteousness and obedience (read the entire context of I Peter 3) and to keep a clear conscience.
It is by and through those things that we can and should give an account. Using our human “knowledge” of things of this world is the second priority. As pointed out in the linked article, human knowledge and understanding of such things as science can and has consistently changed over time and must therefore be mistrusted. Human knowledge can therefore not be relied upon but Christ and the Gospel can and it is from them that our “account” or “answer” should flow...not science…not our finite human understanding. If we are faithful disciples, we can have confidence that no matter what battle field we are called to in defense of the Gospel God will enable us through the leading of His Spirit to faithfully and effectively minister His Word.