Part 3: What is the Relationship Between Faith and Science?

In Part 3 of this Christians and science series, the relationship between faith and science will be examined.  Both faith and science are important in the lives of Christians.  This part of the discussion examines four questions:

  1. What the nature of faith?
  2. What is the nature of science?
  3. How can faith and science relate properly?
  4. What are some applications for daily living?

What is the nature of faith?

Basically, faith deals with how humankind interacts with that which is not observed.  Interestingly, the word “faith” occurs only twice in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:20 and Habakkuk 2:4).  However, faith and belief is demonstrated on many occasions by the heroes of the Old Testament.  The word faith occurs many times in the New Testament. Faith and belief is demonstrated on many occasions by the heroes of the New Testament.

Saving faith is well defined in Chapter 14 of the Westminster Confession of Faith.  The Bible also has much to say about faith that is relevant to the Creation discussion.  Faith is based on believing a statement or promise concerning something that is not seen.  A person’s faith in a statement or promise is based on the character of the one who makes the statement or promise.  The following demonstrate the importance of faith:

  • Faith is required or salvation: “And he believed in the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)
  • Faith requires believing the “impossible”: “…The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
  • The Christian’s life is based on walking in faith, not sight: “(For we walk by faith, not by sight)” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • Christians are to live by faith: “… but the just shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4); “For herein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17); “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38)
  • Faith is to grow strong: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God: And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:20 & 21)
  • Faith does not require seeing: “Now faith is the substance of thing hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
  • Faith is required to please God: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
  • Heroes in faith waited for the promises and died without receiving the promises:
  • These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of the’, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)

In summary, faith deals with belief in the special revelation of an invisible God – the Bible.  Faith involves believing God’s word – even when our observation tells us this is impossible.  Faith involves waiting for God.  Faith involves accepting the fact that God is not obligated to answer our questions within our lifetime. Faith in God’s statements and promises are based on the attributes and character of God.

Since faith is based on the attributes and character of God. Thus, the Christian’s faith is always reasonable and is never blind.

What is the nature of science?

A good Biblical definition of science was provided in the PCA Report.  This definition is listed as follows:

The sciences are disciplines that study features of the world around us, looking for regularities as well as attempting to account for causal relations.  In the causal chains we allow all relevant factors (including supernatural ones) to be considered.”

Science is used by humankind to fulfill the Dominion Mandate (Genesis 1:28 & 9:7).  It is God’s glory that He conceals some things but makes them searchable to humankind. This concept is expressed in Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter: but the glory of kings to search out a matter.” The word “science” occurs only once in the Old Testament (Daniel 1:4) and occurs only once in the New Testament (I Timothy 6:20).

Science is based on observation and then then interpreting that observation.  The Bible has numerous examples of humankind making observations about creation.  Here are some examples:

  • Ocean currents: “… path in the great waters …” (Ps. 77:19).
  • Relative motion: “The sun riseth and the sun goeth down…” (Ecclesiastes 1:5).
  • Wind currents: “The wind goeth toward the south … “(Ecclesiastes 1:6).
  • The hydrologic cycle: “All the rivers run into the sea…” (Ecclesiastes 1:7).
  • Earthquakes: “… two years before the earthquake…” (Amos 1:1).
  • Weather forecasting: “… When it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather for the sky is red.” (Matt. 16:2).

Observation leads to applied sciences.  Biblical examples of applied science include:

  • Building, stone masonry: “…hewed stone to lay the foundation of…”(I Kings 5:17)
  • Groundwater hydrology: “A righteous man falling down before the wicked is a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring.” (Prov. 25:26)
  • Hydraulics: “Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool…” (Isaiah 22:11)
  • Land stewardship, irrigation: “I made me gardens and orchards … I made me pools of water…” (Ecc. 2:5 & 6)
  • Measurement: Length, mass, and time are basics of physics all are mentioned in the Bible. Here are some examples these three basic measurements:
  • Length: “…the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits and the height of it thirty cubits.” (Genesis 6:15)
  • Mass (described in terms of weight); “… half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary…” (Exodus 30:13)
  • Time: “… was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.” (Daniel 4:19)
  • Measurement, Angular: “And Hezekiah answered, it is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; nay but let the shadow return ten degrees.”
  • Metal fabrication: “…of every artificer of brass and iron.” (Genesis 4:22), “… had chariots of iron.” (Judges 1:9)
  • Military Technology: “And he made in Jerusalem engines invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and on the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones…” (II Chronicles 26:15).
  • Mineralogy, identification of precious stones: “…the first row shall be sardus, topaz, carbuncle…emerald, sapphire, and a diamond…ligure, agate, and an amethyst…beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper…” (Exodus 28:17-20)
  • Mineralogy, identification of metals: “Iron is taken from the earth…” (Job 28:2)
  • Mining: “…there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they find it. Iron is to be taken out of the earth…” (Job 28:1 & 2).
  • Navigation: “For the King’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes and peacocks.” (2 Chronicles 9:21)
  • Refining metals: “…as silver is refined…” (Zechariah 13:9)
  • Shipbuilding: “…a navy of ships…” (2 Kings 9:26)
  • Smelting of metals: “… brass is molten out of the stone…” (Job 28:2).
  • Surveying principals: “…the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumline…” (Amos 7:7)
  • Tunneling: “And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the pool and a conduit, and brought water into the city….” (2 Kings 20:20) – Archeologists rediscovered the water supply tunnel under Mt. Zion in the 19th The tunnel was constructed from two ends and met in the middle.
  • Water supply: and irrigation: “I made me pools of water to water…” (Ecc. 2:6)

Special Revelation aids in establishing science.  Special revelation has provided guidance for Gods people in the establishment of applied science and for the wise stewardship of God’s creation.  Here are some examples:

  • Guidance concerning minerology: “(And the gold of the land is good; there is bdellium and onyx stone.” (Genesis 2:12)
  • Animal Husbandry: Genesis 30:31-43 deals with God’s showing Jacob how to successfully manage livestock.
  • Establishment of standards: “… half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary…” (Exodus 30:13)
  • Public health: Leviticus 13 deals with the diagnosis of Leprosy and protocols for dealing with the disease.
  • Sabbatical rest for the land: “But in the seventh year shall be Sabbath rest unto the land…” (Leviticus 25:4)
  • Animal behavior: ”Go to the ant thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” (Prov. 6:6)
  • Preservation of trees: “When thou shat besiege a city a long time… thou shall not destroy the trees thereof…” (Deuteronomy 20:19)
  • Sanitation: “…cover what comes from thee:” (Deuteronomy 23:13)

In summary, science begins with observation.  This observations lead to the applied sciences that are recorded in numerous places in the Bible.  The focus of science is discovery and useful application.  Science is a part of the life of all believers.

The Bible is not a scientific textbook.  However, on multiple instances, it records science related observation and the application of science in all areas of life of humankind.

How can faith and science relate properly?

Both faith and science are important but very different aspects of the Christian’s life.  Faith deals with the unseen.  Science deals with the observing and interpreting what is seen.

Believers are justified by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8 & 9).  Believers are to walk by faith not by sight.  Believers are to follow the testimonies of the saints of the Old and New Testament.

Believers are instructed to pursue the Dominions Mandate (Genesis 1:28 & 9:7).  Believers are encouraged to search out that which is concealed (Proverbs 25:2).  These tasks are accomplished through science.

Faith and science can relate properly when believers understand the following:

  • Believers recognize that faith and science are both important but very different aspects of the Christians life.
  • Believers recognize the difference between general revelation and special revelation. (Chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith establishes the realm of each.) As a result, believers recognize that the scientific consensus not equivalent to general revelation.  Believers recognize that the view of the scientific consensus is very restricted by its presupposition of naturalism.
  • Naturalism has no need for a god and particularly no need for the God of the Bible.
  • Reconciliation between the Bible and the scientific consensus is not possible.
  • Believers understand that God provides answers our science related questions in His timing, not ours. However, somethings will always be a secret with God.

What are some applications for daily living? 

The basic practical application from this section is to first define science Biblically (per the PCA Report definition) and then to pursue science while walking in faith.   Some specific applications are as follows:

  • Understand and appreciate the fact that Gods ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
  • Do not be alarmed because the scientific consensus disagrees with the Bible.
  • Do not be intimidated by the scientific consensus.
  • Wait in faith when the Biblical understanding of creation is challenged.