There is a conflict between the scientific consensus and the Bible. The presupposition of the scientific consensus is naturalism – there is no need for a god, and certainly not the God of the Bible. The presupposition of Christians is the existence of the God of the Bible. Thus, all Christians are outside the scientific consensus.
Illustrations can communicate a lot of material in a concise manor. This is the purpose of the Science vs. Bible Illustration below:
Christians deal with the conflict between science and the Bible three ways:
- By claiming that “there is no conflict.”
- By living with the conflict but not addressing the conflict.
- By living with the conflict and attempting to address the conflict.
Let us consider these views individually:
- Claiming that “there is no conflict”:
Some Christians claim that the Bible and science are in complete agreement. They state there are only “apparent conflicts” between the Bible and the “facts of science.” When there is an “apparent conflict”, the conflict is resolved by reinterpreting the Bible. “There is no conflict” is position of in the Old Earth Creationist Community and the Theistic Evolution Community. This position has been stated in various ways:
The founders of the American Scientific Affiliation in their creedal statement: “I believe that the whole Bible as originally given, to be the inspired word of God, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct. Since God is the author of this Book, as well as creator and sustainer of the physical world about us, I cannot conceive of discrepancies between statements in the Bible and the real facts of science.”(The Creationists… by Ronal L. Numbers, page 193)
In the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII confirmed that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that God created all things and that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces. (excerpted from Wikipedia on 6/7/20, hyperlinks, and footnotes removed)
Day-Age spokesperson, Dr. Hugh Ross in his book Creation and Time (© 1994 NavPress) states: “The facts of nature may be likened to the sixty-seventh book of the Bible. (page 57) …Therefore, no contradiction between the facts of nature and the facts of the Bible is possible. Any apparent contradiction must stem from human misunderstanding. (page 58)”
Framework Interpretation advocate, Dr. Meredith Kline triumphantly states that (thanks to the Framework Interpretation) : “The true harmony of Genesis 1 and Gen.2:5 appears, however, and the false conflict between the Bible and science disappears …” (from “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmonogy” – excerpted from the ASA website on 6/28/20).
Theistic Evolution organization, BioLogos in their statement of “What We Believe, Article 2” state: “We believe that God also reveals himself in and through the natural world he created, which displays his glory, eternal power, and divine nature. Properly interpreted, Scripture and nature are complementary and faithful witnesses to their common Author.” (excerpted from the BioLogos website on 6/7/20)
The “no conflict” view is based on a presupposition that the official position of the scientific consensus is equivalent to “the facts of science”, “the facts of nature” and “natural revelation”. Since the 1830’s the supporters of the “no conflict” view have been continually reinterpreting Scripture to make it agree with the scientific consensus. The “no conflict” view never addresses the presupposition of the scientific consensus – naturalism.
2. Living with the conflict but not addressing the conflict.
Many Christians are not involved in the creation discussion. Their reasons include: 1) They are content to live in faith that God does what He will even though this may conflict with what secularists and “no conflict” Christians say; 2) Science does not interest them; 3) They are involved with other ministries and priorities; 4) They are afraid or lack confidence to get involved in the creation discussion. These Christians are content to wait in faith for God to answer their questions in His timing.
3. Living with the conflict and addressing the conflict.
Since the acceptance of uniformitarian geology, some Christians have recognized the conflict between the scientific consensus and the Bible. Similarly, Christians have spoken out against evolution since the theory originated. The history of the conflict between the scientific consensus and the Bible is well documented in “The Creationist” by Dr. Ronald Numbers.
The Genesis Flood (1961) by Dr. Witcombe and Dr. Morris was based on the plain meaning of Scripture and brought a renewed interest in the literal view of creation and the Flood. Dr. Morris had a PhD in civil engineering and was professionally qualified to write about the Flood from an engineering perspective. The focus of “The Genesis Flood” was to find scientific evidence for a Biblically recent creation and the flood.
The publication of “The Genesis Flood” launched a new interest in science within the Christian community. This resulted in the formation of the Creation Research Society (CRS) in 1963; this group conducts scientific research. The CRS was followed by other groups that promoted a lateral view of creation and the Flood. The largest of these include the Institute for Creation Research (ISI); Answers in Genesis (AIG) and Creation Ministries International (CMI). These groups focus on educating the Christian community on science. The leaders, speakers and authors in these group are typically recognized scientists. Leader within the movement conduct their own research. They also consider the research of those within the scientific community and the scientific consensus.
4. Are Christians who believe in the literal view of creation “anti-scientific?”
The term “anti-scientific” is been used both secularists and evangelical Christians to characterize those who believe in the literal view of creation and the Flood. The use of the term by non-believers is understandable and expected. The use of the by fellow Christian represents, at a minimum, a lack of knowledge because many who hold the literal view of creation and the Flood:
- Are engaged in science and as a result are able to think critically of the claims of the scientific consensus.
- Have often studied both science and the Bible much more than their accusers.
- Often agree with most of the positions of the scientific consensus. Many are engaged in scientific work that relates to the positions of the scientific consensus (2).
After my studies I began to develop some conclusions about the conflict between science and the Bible.
- There will always be a conflict between science and the Bible because the presupposition of science is naturalism and the there is no need for a god.
- The Christian claim that there is “no-conflict“ is not accepted by secular scientists. Secularists are able to recognize the conflict.
- There are qualified scientists who do not agree with the scientific consensus. Some are Christians, some are secularists. Many recognize design and a designer; this recognition is the basis for the Intelligent Design movement.
- Science is field of study and not a person. Thus, the phrase “science tells us” really refers to the statements of the scientific consensus or those within the scientific consensus.
- On a personal level, the author works in the field of floodplain management and stormwater management. He is fully supportive of the positions of the scientific consensus with respect to FEMA floodplain management policies and the implementation of the Clean Water Act.