In Part 4 of this Christians and science series, the phrase “the conflict between science and the Bible” will be examined. This part of the discussion deals with two questions:
- How may the conflict between science and the Bible be defined?
- Is it possible to believe the literal view of creation and have a high view of science?
How may the conflict between science and the Bible be defined?
The phrase “conflict between science and the Bible” is commonly used but is almost never defined. The “conflict between science and the Bible” is thought by many to be a conflict between the experimental science and the Bible. This is a misunderstanding.
In reality, the conflict between science and the Bible is only a conflict between some official positions of the scientific consensus and the Bible. This conflict should not be surprising. The official positions of the scientific consensus are based on naturalism. (Per the PCA Report definition, naturalism: is a metaphysical concept that the world exists on its own, and that God exerts no influence on any object or event in the world.)
It is to be expected that positions based on a presupposition of naturalism would be in opposition to God’s special revelation. The Bible begins with the statement “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1).
Is it possible to believe the literal view of creation and have a high view of science?
Absolutely! … Nearly all who believe the literal view of creation have a high view of science. This means that they have a high view of applied science and a high view experimental science. This also means that they have a high view of processes used in forensic science. In the case of forensic science, all interested persons look at the same evidence. From this evidence, they may draw different conclusions based on their presuppositions. The only significant area of disagreement is when conclusions of forensic science are based on a restraining presupposition of naturalism.
Those who hold to the literal view of creation have a much larger view of science than those who are restrained by a presupposition of naturalism. The following Views of Science Illustration (below) demonstrates this.
The Views of Science Illustration
The definition of science in the PCA Report is a helpful resource to Christians. The definition is 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.” Christians, even those who believe in theistic evolution, have a larger view of science than that expressed by the scientific consensus. Let us examine each “box” of The Views of Science Illustration.
The Scientific Consensus Box is the smallest box because it represents the most restricted view of science. The box represents the official positions of the scientific consensus. These views are constrained and limited by a presupposition of naturalism. The positions of the scientific consensus cover such basic things as human origins and such contemporary issues as global warming.
The Scientific Community Box represents is larger because it represents a larger view of science. The scientific community is composed scientists, applied scientists, and medical professionals. Those within the scientific community typically hold to some of the official positions of the scientific consensus. However, they may disagree with the scientific consensus particularly on positions related to their field of study. Examples in the medical field include differing ideas on vaccinations, fluoride in drinking water, and cancer treatments. The intelligent design movement is based on scientific observations of the complexity of cells. This observation led some scientists to conclude that there had to be a designer. Some Christians in sciences believe in theistic evolution (Evolutionary Creation). However, theistic evolution (Evolutionary Creation) is not considered scientific by the scientific consensus. This is due to the fact that the presupposition of naturalism does not require a god and certainly not the God of the Bible.
The Supernatural Operations of the Lord Box represents an even larger view of science because it allows God to operate in a Biblically supernatural way. Most Christians believe in miracles and the omnipotence of God. However, some choose to believe that God only operates within the constraints of the scientific consensus.
Finally, The Secret Things of the Lord are beyond the boxes of human understanding. God operates outside the limits of human thinking. God’s thoughts and ways are not the ways of humankind. His thoughts and ways are higher than our ways. There will always be things that humankind will never know.
What are some applications for daily living?
The basic practical application from this section is to first define science and naturalism Biblically (per the PCA Report definitions). Then consider how this definition relates to the current discussion of science. Some specific applications are as follows:
- Understand that for those who believe in the literal view of creation, the “conflict between science and the Bible” is extremely limited in scope. The conflict is not a total conflict or even a general conflict.
- Understand that those who believe in the literal view of creation have a high view of science. This high view of science that is not constrained by a presupposition of naturalism.
- Understand that those who believe in the literal view of creation respect the scientific consensus even though they may not agree with all the positions of the scientific consensus.
- Understand that any view of creation that involves God is outside the scientific consensus and is therefore not considered scientific by the scientific consensus.
To be continued….