This is the last installment of the series on Science and Grace.
It is important to make sure that even as we hold fast to the Scriptures, we aren’t making silly intellectual mistakes.
Given who our beloved is, we Christians ought to be the ones most careful about getting it right in the details, about accurately representing the world in our thinking and in scientific papers, presentations, and discussions. We are not to consciously distort or ignore data to make the world fit our ideas or to score rhetorical points against opposing arguments. This is not just a matter of the rules of science, not just a matter of scientific integrity, but a matter of love and respect for the Maker and Redeemer of it all.
At best, speaking out when we are obviously behind in our scientific homework is embarrassing to our Christian brothers and sisters, and at worst it brings the Christian faith and Christ’s gospel into disrepute.
It’s very important to realize that we are not trying to "prove" God through science. This is the same mistake as those who deny the necessity of presuppositionalism (or rather that group of philosophies described as such). This is empiricist at best and rationalist at worst. That’s the big problem with the ICR – they tend towards empiricism when it is quite clear that the pagan scientist will not and cannot accept this as truth. Their work is far better as they show how evolution/pagan science is a religion and not science at all (science is impossible from an atheist framework).
In the early seventeenth century, Francis Bacon, the “father of modern science,” decried even in his day the use of human reason in such a way as to “treat God no better than a suspect witness” in a legal proceeding.
It is one thing to ask how we might best understand His works. It is quite another to seriously ask whether our comprehensive explanations leave room for God to act, or whether given the laws of physics God might actually be able to accomplish certain things. We are not in a position to demand explanations.
It is simply a recognition that although many of God’s works might seem amenable at some level to human description and manipulation, submission and even just basic honesty require that when we have no idea, we ought to say so.
Again, we see that too often we use our Christian science (which is indeed correct, and the ICR guys are doing great work don’t get me wrong) as evidence. We bring it before the throne of Scientism and say "well, Science, judge between me and God." You don’t judge God that way. You bring the two systems of thought before GOD and He shall judge. Don’t ever forget who the ultimate authority is, or you’ve lost the battle before you start.
First, the use of scientific evidence in apologetics may inadvertently cede to science the ultimate truth authority.
In fact, we convince ourselves that “they” are so easily shown to be wrong that short weekend conferences are all that is needed to give people with no scientific expertise all the necessary tools to debunk the fruits of countless lifetimes of work by “them.” In these ways, the proper and central offense of the gospel message, inherent in its proclamation, too easily devolves into the offensiveness of an argumentative messenger.
So, in looking back over the chapter, what have we claimed that a faithful scientific servant will be about in his scientific work? God’s servant in science will be firm in faith, will believe what God says, will be highly motivated by what God has done, will be obedient to the commands of God, and will act out that obedience in science-related attentiveness, submission, and stewardship.
There is a huge difference between playing to win because you have nothing to lose and playing only to keep from losing.
It was widely assumed among our colleagues that science had in some way invalidated traditional religious belief, and some consciously saw their science as confirmation of a materialist understanding of the universe that left no room for a consideration of a God or His claims upon them.
Explicit Christian convictions were not welcome in the halls of science and sometimes generated surprising hostility.
It is perfectly legitimate to use the knowledge and methods developed by scientists who are in rebellion against God. Their festering sin doesn’t change the beauty and inner workings of God’s world (though often it leads to a misinterpretation of those workings).
It is by His common grace that He restrains sin, promotes cooperation among regenerate and unregenerate alike, and propels positive development of the good potentials of His creation through a variety of human institutions and human spheres of activity.
We live in amazing times in the sciences, and we need not dwell in fear and apprehension of unfolding wonders or keep a tight leash on our admiration for scientific achievement because we fear it will somehow aid “the enemy.” Praise be to God for the marvelous favor He shows in the science of our times.
Those working in the sciences must not only be willing to opt out of the cultural practice when necessary, but also to speak prophetically against it at times. We must consistently assert our belief in the rule and purposes of God in His created universe over against a universe that by chance creates itself and thus lacks purpose and value.
Nothing is neutral – neutrality is an impossibility. The convictions (dare I say presuppositions) you have will affect everything you do. Why? Because your presuppositions are those things that we hold to regardless of evidence, because they are what we use to interpret evidence. The unbeliever cannot accept God as a cause. Therefore he simply cannot see the way a certain process must unfold. His presuppositions direct him to find another way. Our presuppositions, the truth, power, and majesty of God, lead us to a biblical interpretation through the Sovereign Word. But don’t think that just because they accuse you of holding to "blind beliefs" that they have none – of course they do. They just don’t (can’t, won’t) admit it.
Well, of course those who come at the science from a naturalistic perspective will oppose you. What do you expect? The science one does is impacted in a variety of ways by the convictions one has.
Kuyper seems to be the go-to guy here.
Rather, Kuyper encourages Christians to go back to our own basic principles and based on them to engage in vigorous scientific work. Our task as Christians in science then is not primarily negative—just to find ways to tear the other side down or to try to recapture some lost golden age of Christian dominance in science, but to faithfully do our own scientific work—to do it well, to “own” our convictions, and to fully participate in the cultural tasks we have been given.
Declare your givens. That’s the first step in any engineering problem. What are you working with? Did you assume frictionless pulley and weightless ropes for the sake of argument? Then say so. Are you going to ignore God, in spite of any possible evidence? Say so. Are you going to work from the bounds of Scripture with the Word alone as your ultimate authority? Say so. Don’t be shy.
We should insist that all participants in science have a right, even an obligation, to work out their science in the context of their deeper convictions. But with such freedom also comes the responsibility to declare openly what some of these principles are. Among other things, this will require that Christians explicate the relevant components of a Christian “life-system” that may become part of the banner Christians raise above their scientific work.
This is a very good point. Darwinism is not the only kind of evolutionary theory (it existed in Greek culture as well). This means there’s no one single approach to refute it. Each piece must be dismantled separately.
Both “sides” in evolution controversies seem to find it advantageous to treat evolution as a single unit, to be entirely rejected or embraced, either as a symbol of orthodoxy or as a symbol of being serious about science. The symbolic status of “evolution” obscures a clear understanding of the complex and multilevel issues involved. Modern evolutionary theory is a complex of many theories. The individual theories differ widely in the claims they make and in the kinds of supportive evidence they appeal to. Each theory needs to be presented and evaluated individually rather than always pressing for an all-inclusive up-or-down “vote” as if evolution is some kind of omnibus bill in a legislature.
May God deliver His people from the idols of our age and engulf us in His glorious gospel of grace in all our knowing, being, and doing.
All in all, a very good book. Brings together everything from covenant theology to histogrammatical interpretations. Also a very easy read. Probably one of the better books I’ve read on the subject – very few stress the need for the God of the Bible, as this one does, as opposed to settling for a "god" in general.