Theology and Natural
Science: Epistemological Issues Beneath the Surface
Scripture and Truth—against
(Natural) Science and Other Uncertainties, or
Adam and Eve Are More Real Than HAL
***Paper accepted and presented at Houston Baptist
University, April 5, 2014 for their annual conference.
In pursuing my interests in philosophy over
the past four years, I eventually found my way to philosophy of
science. Its study
has been intriguing and eye-opening.
First, it raises profound issues for the study of
epistemology at its core.
Natural science, as “scientism,” is too often considered
the source of
truth for our modern day, at least generally in social and
political discourse. This authority is far more assumed, than
real, when philosophy of science is engaged with any serious
Second, the large majority of philosophers and scientists in
this field are not Christians and therefore have no reason to
provide an epistemological assistance for Christians in natural
Thus, I am puzzled as to the lack of reference to this
area in current debates. Thus,
I would like to address this debate from issues of epistemology
and philosophy of science, especially a proposal concerning the
notion of faith.
Natural Science and the
History of Scientitia
and Episteme: A
Sleight of Hand
Introduction to “science.” In modern discussions, “science”
is short-hand for “natural science.”
While this shortening seems innocent, it masks
significant issues in epistemology.
An earlier name for natural science was natural
philosophy, even well into the 19th century.
It was a branch of philosophy, carrying all the vagaries,
speculations, and substantial disagreements of philosophy that
are well known today.
One must enter the community of philosophers of science
to see these substantial falsehoods and disagreement.
The End of Science by
John Horgan is a of notable philosophers and scientists across a
broad spectrum of beliefs in natural science and philosophy
History of scientitia.
Further, the word, “science” is short for the Latin,
scientia,which has a
long and more general background.
For example, the “sciences” among the Middle Age
Scholastics were medicine, law, and theology.
theology was “queen of
Further back, Augustine of Hippo used the term
scientitia, as he
discussed his considerations of epistemology.
By an historical and grammatical reduction and sleight of
hand, natural science has replaced this broader concept of
science which had been defined as a serious and systematic study
of any subject.
By this, perhaps unintentional but nevertheless
misleading, misdirection, natural science has gained a
independent claim to knowledge and truth that is entirely and
completely unwarranted either in its philology or its definition
within a history of language and epistemology.
xx--Monolithic. (As I am writing, the I note my use of
“monolithic” and “monotheism.”
Scientism seeks to become the only source of truth,
whereas the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the only source
Initially, there was
episteme of the Greek philosophers, obviously the root of
Plato described in his divided line, a process whereby opinion (doxa)
could be advanced to faith (pistis),
then to understanding (dianoia),
and finally to truth or knowledge (episteme).
(Greek) became scientitia
(Latin_) with the change of the universal language of the
West from Greek to Latin.
Thus, from the beginning of Western scholarship,
“science” had a much broader usage
and a more diligent
process to arrive at true knowledge than is present today.
This broader application has been lost with the reduction
of “natural philosophy” to “natural science” to simply
change has given additional false credence to natural science in
The Origin of the Modern
Notion of “Science”
essence of science.
Today, “science” tries to hide personal biases. But, natural
science is dependent upon the faith-beliefs of those who are
doing the theorizing or experimenting.
Those explicit beliefs then become acceptable to
a group of persons with the same beliefs, sufficiently
held to form an authority of science, as described by Thomas
Kuhn in his The Structure
of Scientific Revolutions.
But, natural science is “methodological naturalism”—a
process that assumes a closed universe and no existence of the
By abbreviating “natural
science” to just “science,” this secular divide was obscured.
This hiddeness was not likely intentional, although the
directed secularism of first positivism, and then logical
positivism, certainly fomented this abbreviation, as there was
no need for the “natural” because “nature” was all that existed
with God excluded. A
prominent example of this bias is that seen in the evolution vs.
creation-science controversy which we will visit later.
synonyms: premises, assumptions, axioms, basic beliefs,
foundational beliefs, starting points, simple beliefs,
prejudices, first principles, etc.
and bolts of science.
there is certain and unavoidable conflict of the most basic
Scientism assumes a closed universe—nothing supernatural exist,
while biblical theology assumes a universe created by the
supernatural God, sustained by Him, and occasionally
miraculously interrupted by Him.
There is conflict from the epistemological foundations—no
God vs. God. There
is conflict of “cause” by way of explanation.
“Nature” has established regularities, called “laws,”
that govern the universe.
God has created these regular patterns in the universe by
which man can discern patterns that allow him to create
is the traditional and ongoing conflict over miracles.
There is the conflict over
God’s intended conclusion vs. no purpose and a random process
There is perhaps the greatest conflict in ethics and politics
(to which science can make no claim—more on this latter issue
Many Christians, including myself, have said,
“There is no conflict between science and the Scriptures
But, there is conflict, as I have described—infinite,
irresolvable conflict of the most basic premises.
The only way to avoid conflict is “methodological
Not much would be lost, and much would be attained, by
this process. Miracles
are sufficiently rare in number that they are easily
instead of “natural laws,” there would be the laws of God’s
creation, or better, the regular and recognizable patterns of
the created universe.
Scientism, as Logical
Positivism, Struck Out Early in its History On Its Own Premises
In the early 20th Century a group known as the
Vienna Circle and others began a challenge to the world that was
called “the verification principle” (VP).
They were an impressive list of recognized scholars which
included Moritz Schlick, Hans Hahn, Gustav Bergmann, Rudolf
Carnap, Hebert Feigl, Otto Neurath, Frederick Waismann, and
The verification was a “denial of literal or cognitive
meaning to any statement that is not verifiable,” says Simon
Blackburn in his Oxford
Dictionary of Philosophy.
That is, if one could not run an experiment, then it had no
truth value to it. Thus,
“truth” claimed a foundation in empirical methodology—the
so-called “scientific method.” The
intent of the VP was to discredit any metaphysical claims beyond
science, especially any religious or other authoritative claim.
The movement was eventually crushed.
“First, it shared the traditional problems of radical
empiricism, describing the basis of knowledge in experience.”
This problem is the fallacy of induction, which even
David Hume, an avowed atheist clearly and thoroughly attacked.
“Secondly, it depended upon one logic for science, or in
other words a confirmation theory with a unique authority, yet
no such structure, and certainly no basis for its authority ever
Karl Popper with his falsifiability principle and other
scholars soundly ended this movement
at least by that name.
Thus, logical positivism attempted
while it had its foundation in a
Nothing has really changed today except that logical
positivism has simply become “science,” thus again masquerading
its metaphysical (and thus religious) grounding.
In 1948 Michael Polanyi, a world renowned physical chemist,
reacted to the claims of science that it was objective and true.
He said, “Modern physics has demonstrated the power of
the human mind to discover and exhibit a rationality which
governs nature, before ever approaching the field of
He goes on to show that the person is involved at every
step of the “scientific method.”
The person abstracts his hypothesis, formulates his
method, chooses his parameters of measure, what data to collect
and what to reject,
and then make conclusions from his experiment.
There is no
objective or universal standard by which all these judgments are
cites the development of crystallography (one of his own fields
of expertise) in which classifications are constructed from
observations for a preliminary study of crystals.
Thus, “each individual crystal is taken to represent an
ideal of regularity (and)
all actual deviations from which are regarded as imperfections”
(emphasis mine). In
other words, crystals that do not fit pre-supposed patterns are
placed outside the system!
Anyone familiar with classifications of plants and
animals know that some individual things defy exact placement.
There is the mammalian duckbill platypus.
There is the Ginko tree which has its own
And so forth.
Polanyi uses terms, such as, “faith,”
“tautology,” “authority,” “calling,” “tacit knowledge,”
“belief,” “conversion,” “personal commitment,” “community,”
conviviality,” “hermeneutics,” “intuition,” “randomness,” and
“tradition,” that are usually identified with liberal studies,
social sciences, and religions, rather than the “objectivity” of
Indeed, he calls his epistemology, “personal knowledge,” as the
“person” suffuses all scientific thinking.
His approach only confirmed uncertainties brought about
by Werner Heisenberg’s observations and the more recent
developments in the unpredictable nature of chaos and quantum
I have focused on Polanyi, because he has
possibly the most thoroughly worked out epistemology of science.
But, he is not alone.
There are a great many philosophers of science who are
consistent with his thinking in various parts and at several
levels: Paul Davies, Karl Popper, Paul Feyerabend, Alexandre
Koyré, Daniel Dennett, Noam Chomsky, Roger Penrose, Thomas Kuhn,
and Nancey Murphy are only a few.
While none really agree completely, they all demonstrate
that science is far from the objective and fixed source of truth
that is commonly assumed and proclaimed in science departments
in high schools, colleges, and universities.
It is in the “halls of academia” that the myths of
science as truth are mythologized, not in the more soundly
conceived ideas of philosophers of science.
Polanyi is not overtly Christian.
There are occasional and sometimes surprising references
to Christian themes, but certainly no case can be made that he
is advancing any religious agenda.
His Christian theology is superficial, inconsistent, and
minimally related to his epistemology.
But Christians can make great use of his ideas.
First, his thinking can illuminate Scriptural and
personal beliefs and how they function in practical
Second, he virtually destroys science as a monolithic,
objective, and certain source of truth or knowledge, making it
instead into a “personal calling” of “discovery.”
Bible-believing Christians need not fear any scientific
pronouncements that would affect their theology, as science is
only another authority whose evidence is to be weighed along
with other important authorities.
Let’s see if I can help us understanding faith
and apply it to issues in modern science.
Early in my Christian journey, I sought to have a better
understanding of faith Theologians did not help with their vague
terms of assensus,
fiducia, and notitia. My first insights came from the notion
of – for lack of a better term, “generic faith” or “everyday
faith.” I have
faith that I can drive my car to my destination without an
accident or the car breaking down.
I have faith that my alarm clock will go off, as it
should without a power failure.
I have faith that my house will not burn down, as I
sleep. I have faith
that my wife will be faithful in all the ways that she should.
I have faith to remember how to tie my shoes when I put
them on. Faith,
then, might be any
decision that is based upon assumptions about knowledge and
expected outcome based upon that knowledge. More formally,
faith is based upon one’s premises, presuppositions, and basic
The many faces or synonyms of “assumptions”…
As Polanyi would note, these come from within the person.
It is this generic faith that is not often
recognized by Christians.
By isolating “faith” to religious belief, the dependence
of all human knowledge on faith is obscured.
A definition of faith, then, for any area of scholarship
would be: the
predisposition to act according to one’s knowledge
with an expected outcome that may or may not occur according to
reality and experience is interpreted by these personal beliefs
More particularly applicable here,
all natural science is
based upon personal faith or the faith of a community of
scientists which does not differ from other forms of personal or
The “scientific method” is based upon faith at each step
of its process. The
experimenter has faith in the knowledge that he possesses from
He has faith in his experimental design.
He has faith in his measurements.
He has faith in his staff to be honest and diligent in
their work. And on
and on. The whole
process is faith-based.
Again, Michael Polanyi:
movement of the last 300 years (the Enlightenment Project, if
you will—Ed) has tried to sanction the acceptance of science
while avoiding any explicit declaration of faith, which was
contrary to its basic program. I believe that this attempt has
failed because it is logically mistaken, and that, consequently,
it can never succeed at all. I hold that we have good reasons
for preferring science to magic or astrology, or (what is of
greater practical importance) to the perversion of science
imposed by Stalinism on the territories under Communist rule.
But I suggest that these reasons can never be adequately stated
without a personal affirmation of belief on the part of the
A neutral analysis of science as a system of
beliefs should always use the word 'science' and 'scientist' in
quotation marks, in the way the Soviet Academy refers to
bourgeois 'science' and bourgeois 'scientists'. The confident
use of any expressions including the word 'science' or its
derivatives like 'scientific method', 'scientific observation',
'natural law', etc., convey the writer's belief in a certain
body of allegations, in the rightness of a certain procedure for
“ at such allegations and of confirming them, without his ever
having taken the responsibility for affirming this belief. The
use of the scientific idiom by writers of scientific method
establishes in fact from the start a tacit understanding between
them and their readers on the trustworthiness of the method
which they are setting out to analyses.
Applications to science.
This sort of “personal” choice (faith) exists even in
There is the uncertainty brought about by light being both a
wave and a particle.
There is quantum uncertainty.
There is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.
There is Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and
belief that light is the only constant in the universe—in spite
of some challenging observations.
Polanyi’s book is filled with examples of such “choices”
in all areas of science.
Even in mathematics, Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems
destroy any notion of a complete proof in mathematics, the
foundation of all sciences.
A simple example can be seen in geometry where the
beginning student assumes (i.e., has faith in) axioms which are
not, and cannot, be proven. Thus,
geometry provides a well-known example that all sciences are
faith-based, whether called axioms, presuppositions, premises,
intuition, or something else.
Indeed, Gödel stated that “the notion of provability is
weaker than the notion of truth.”
-- Every person should ponder that statement carefully
for its powerful implications.
The Enlightenment Project of the Enlightenment
attempted to base all knowledge on reason was itself an act of
Descartes “believed” in his
cogito and his “clear
and distinct” ideas.
Immanuel Kant “believed” in his categories, his
critiques, and separation of
Georg Hegel “believed” in his
Frederich Nietzsche believed in his geneology of morals,
his Obermench, and
his “will to power.”
We have seen how the Logical Positivists “believed” their
But, interestingly and disastrously, these philosophers would
not allow “belief” in authorities other than themselves, such
as, Scripture, tradition, and other authorities.
Such is the irrationality of the rationalists!
Christians buy into this separation of “reason” and “faith” when
they allow themselves to be called a “faith-group.”
including the supposed “hard” sciences, are based upon faith,
less soundly based in human conceptions over against God’s
revelation of Himself in the Holy Scriptures.
--- As an aside, the idea that all –isms are faith-based
is one of the most, and perhaps
the most, crucial
issue of our time.
brief aside on the “working” of science.
The reader may be wondering how it is that science has
achieved so much, when it is also “faith-based.”
As evangelicals, we recognize that faith is a gift
But generic faith, and in particular scientific faith, is also a
Faith is a means to act
without certainty; it is a functional knowledge.
I do not have to know
electricity works; I
only need to know sufficient characteristics to harness it and
not get killed in the process.
I do not need to know how an internal combustion engine
works to drive my car.
I do not need re-learn how to tie my shoe or any other of
hundreds of skills; I have faith that I know and
Scientists do not know
why gravity exists,
but they can plot the course of space ships by understanding its
properties. They do
not know why
electrons and other subatomic particles act as they do, but they
can know their properties sufficiently to produce electricity
from nuclear power and split the atom.
So, faith is a gift to function as a
Christian, a nuclear physicist, or simply to tie my shoe.
If certainty and total knowledge were necessary, one
could only be inert, motionless, and incapacitated.
Praise God for this wonderful gift in salvation and every
action of life.
Evolution: A Science
that is Murky at Best
((**See ICR website, article cited by Gish
that says that science cannot address the past.
There seems to be a prevailing idea that
evolution is a solidly reasoned, widespread concept, especially
in scholarly circles.
What other reason would otherwise sound-thinking
Christians even consider its tenets?
Well, the fact that evolution is usually referred to as
“the theory of
evolution” should give a clue as to its dubious status.
“Theory” is just a belief that is proposed to be “proven”
by the evidence.
First, there are widely divergent views of
Wells comments on ten “icons”—the commonly referenced “facts.”
Some of these icons of evolution present
assumptions or hypotheses as though they were observed facts; in
Stephen Jay Gould’s words, “incarnation of concepts masquerading
as neutral descriptions of nature,.”
raging controversies among biologists that have far-reaching
implications for evolutionary theory.
Worst of all, some are
directly contrary to
Most biologists are unaware of these problems.
Indeed, most biologists work in fields far removed from
Most of what they know about evolution, they learned from
biology textbooks and the same magazine articles and television
documentaries that are seen by the general public.
Wells entire 338-page book thoroughly
documents assumptions, myths, and outright fraud.
The fly-leaf of the 2nd edition of
the book, Darwin Retried,
Norman Macbeth states:
Classical Darwinianism has slowly been
abandoned piece by piece, but the public has not been informed
of what has happened.
If queried, Darwinists will say that their theory does
not provide a satisfactory overall account of the evolutionary
process and, in any case, theirs is the best theory available.
But it has become increasingly evident that there are
serious difficulties even with neo-Darwinianism, and many
mysteries involving selection, micro-change, and other matters
Macbeth was privileged to attend meetings of
the Systematics Group of the American History of Natural History
where he heard
many frank and vigorous discussions…. (that)
were not governed by dogma and were not respectful about
traditional views on evolution.
(The attendees) were all sure that it had occurred, but
they did not pretend to know how…. Gould and Eldredge … stated
eloquently that the profession has utterly failed in regard to
macroevolution; several philosophers … agreed … that natural
selection is a tautology.
Practically every point in (my first edition) could not
be documented more fully…. (and) not one biologist in ten can
understand the mathematics of Fisher an Wright. ”
Like, Wells’ book, all its 178 pages show the
disagreements and flimsy-to-non-existent evidence for
As I stated above, the strongest protagonists
of evolution are science departments of high schools, colleges,
and universities—many of which are “Christian.”
They present evolution as though there are no problems
with its theory and a consistent account throughout the natural
indoctrinate students for 12-16 or more years in this false and
Thus, by indoctrination they achieve what natural science
cannot: a claim of the solid evidence of its truth.
It seems incredulous, then, that
Bible-believing Christians with seemingly little knowledge of
the great evidence against evolution, that they are not only
willing to challenge the Genesis account of origins, but
challenge New Testament reiteration and confirmation of Genesis
The Idea of Authority
Augustine, as Descartes was to ponder, more
than a thousand years later, was assumed to have an epistemology
that was irrefutable.
He did not find it in Manichaeism because their scholars
could not answer his questions.
After his conversion, he struggled with the idea of the
authority of the Bible.
How could “authority” (a persons’ opinion, the position
of a particular scholar, a consensus, etc.) be this ultimate
it gradually dawned on him that we live almost the entirely of
our lives by authority, that is,
faith in others.
Most of what we know
comes from “authorities”: our parents, our teachers, books,
conversations with others, and scholars of all sorts.
We plan a trip by the “authority of a map.”
We invest by the “authority of economic authorities.”
We marry on the “authority of our choice of mates.”
We have children on the “authority of what a family is
and ought to be.”
Thus, as Augustine began to see the ubiquity of “authority,”
what was so strange about accepting the “authority of God”
speaking through the Scriptures?
Why, that means just fit with everyday life, and the
scholarly world, as well.
Then, if one considers that
God is speaking and
authenticating Himself, well then, what is the problem with
Scripture being the ultimate and final authority?
This supernatural book is, then, a “natural” authority.
That is, a book written to understand and govern man’s
There are two points here.
First, there is the prevalence of authority at all levels
of knowing . Go back to our discussion of faith where knowledge
was central to faith.
Authority is one kind of knowledge upon which faith is
based. It is a
strange application of epistemology that anti-Biblicists demean
the consideration of the Bible as “ultimate authority.”
As Paul Tillich pointed out, “ultimate authority” is
simply where our greatest faith lies.
Atheists have ultimate authorities.
Communists have ultimate authorities.
Hindus have ultimate authorities.
With all the massive evidence of historical,
archeological, epistemological, and traditional arguments for
Scripture, why place it under special rules of challenge from
which these other authorities are excused.
Second, the Christian faith inescapably rests
upon the Biblical authority of its 66 books.
The individual (Christian or not), council, or church
that begins to tinker with what is and is not Biblical
authority, apart from these 66 books that are traditional,
orthodox, and agreed upon by Protestants, Catholics, and
Orthodox, has departed from Christianity.
When the totality of Scripture is not accepted, the
authority of that person
or group has become has become the canon, instead of the
canon of Scripture.
Natural science is just one authority.
As we have seen, popular and scholarly usage has
separated it from its place among other the speculations of
philosophy and its limiting domain of the “natural” world, not
to mention all the epistemological problems pointed out by
modern philosophers of science.
Now, Christian, with this background, why
should natural science have an authority that supersedes
should your Biblical theology be challenged by this disguised
should your objective
Biblical faith be minimized over against the subjective and
of natural science?
grounds alone, you have moved from The Solid Rock to shifting
sand! When one
adds the theological grounds discussed by Madueme, one has to
ask, just what is there to recommend changes in orthodox
Knowledge in Community:
Indwelling in a Convicted Manner
Science, community, and paradigm. Thomas Kuhn speaks of
paradigms that exist among a community until such time as
“shifts” occur, as happened in the movement from Newtonian
science to that of Einstein’s relativity and quantum
Michael Polanyi discusses “scientific consensus,”
“established authorities,” and “competent authorities” which
established the natural sciences for a particular time period
and must undergo a “breaking out” or “conversion,” as the
“shift” that Kuhn describes.
The scientific community, then, becomes the “authority”
for acceptable science.
By now the reader should be noting the comparisons of
science and religious knowledge: faith, belief, authority,
conversion, and community.
While inerrancy does not have universal status
in Christendom, particular tenets reside in a community that is
a local church and denomination.
To be an authentic member of such a community, one has an
allegiance to that community.
One should have investigated the soundness of the tenets
of that community before joining and in continuing membership.
It is not exactly an “us and them,” but a commitment to
one’s community is necessary to authentic faith and practice.
Thus, outside information such as science should have to
“prove” itself in a profound way to counter that community’s
beliefs. In other
words, one’s convictions should override all but the most
profound evidence from “outside.”
Not unlike the new “decisions under review—unless there
is “overriding” evidence “on the field,” present interpretation
should not be overridden.
I fear that too little commitment and investigation may
be behind some of the current movement to accept natural
scientific pronouncements over one’s community of Biblical
interpretation and belief.
There Are No Ethics in
Science—No “Ought” Can Be Claimed from An “Is”
Whether achievements by modern science are
“good” or not, natural science cannot speak—natural science is
science can—does not
mean that it should.
This silence is sometimes called the naturalistic
fallacy. There can
be no ought from an
Even David Hume, an enemy of Christianity, noted this
when we say “achievements” or “progress” of modern science, we
are appealing to authorities
outside of science to
make moral conclusions
We should never go to scientists to ask them
should be achieved, and yet we do every day.
The Nobel Peace prize resulted from the ambivalence that
Alfred Nobel had over his invention of dynamite—a substance that
could level mountains for roads and dam lakes for hydraulic
electricity or kill hundreds of human beings in a single blast.
Was the invention of dynamite “good” or “bad.”
Science cannot tell us; only human values can, and values
do not come from natural science.
Natural Science Is a
Science observes small parts of the universe,
but never the whole universe.
Yet, it makes universal pronouncements.
Gravity is the same on the moon as on earth.
The possibility of life on earth means that life is
possible on other planets.
Lowering cholesterol promotes health.
The velocity of light is constant throughout the
Radioactive decay has in the long-time past and will precede at
a predictable rate the far-off future.
And so on.
However, unless one can go back in time and examine every inch
(atom?) of the universe at every moment of time, one cannot be
absolutely sure of anything in science—a methodological fallacy
or the fallacy of induction.
Check any basic textbook on logic.
The Christian and
Science is current paradigm.
Scripture is fixed as text, but not as interpretation.
Science and Biblical theology used different language and
Let each attend to its
As reported by Alister McGrath, “Augustine was
deeply concerned that biblical interpreters might get locked
into reading the Bible according to the scientific assumptions
of the age.”
We should as well. The Church-Galileo incident should
remind us of that in two ways.
First, Biblical theology should not be tied to scientific
paradigm, as Augustine warned—to do so is to muddy both
I suggest that Christians back off the
creationist debates, both being grounded in scientism, and
Old-Earth, New-Earth. Science
is a shifting paradigm that never achieves the status of truth.
Let the scientists debate.
Give the freedom to all Christians to stake their own
Definitive Lines Must Be
Within the context of all that I presented
there, definitive lines must be drawn.
(1) The line must be drawn at inerrancy, but we need a
new definition (concept) of inerrancy.
Referral to the original autographs is necessary, but
We have the inerrant text
today, as proven over and over again.
Differences among the better and best manuscripts are
minimal and almost never affect doctrine.
Let us proclaim the immensity of the agreement on Planet
Earth of the 66 books of the Bible that are agreed upon by Roman
Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Protestants alike.
The problem is not inerrancy, but interpretation and
agreement on epistemology—both method and foundational issues.
I will make an attempt at this formulation,
but certainly willing for others to state it better.
The current statement of the Evangelical Society,
concerning Scripture, reads, “"The Bible alone, and the Bible in
its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore
inerrant in the autographs.”
A change, as I have proposed, might be “The 66 books of
the Christian Scriptures that are traditionally accepted among
the orthodox as God’s only infallible truth in objective form,
conveyed to modern man through extant manuscripts.”
There could be other important words, like “ultimate
authority,” “final authority,” “governing authority,”
“controlling authority,” etc.
Each Christian body may have to decide on different
Further, our creeds ignore their own
I suggest the minimal addition to
The Apostles’ Creed with
“Through the Holy Scriptures, I believe in God the Father
Almighty, maker of heaven and earth…”
The Old Earth and Young Earth Christians need
to shift their emphasis from (natural) science, as an uncertain
authority, to that of Biblical inerrancy.
They should join hands against scientism, positivism, and
atheism, instead of claiming that some form of evolution today
is an evangelistic means to the intelligentsia of today.
(2) A line must be drawn at science
determining essential doctrine.
Peter Enns and others have challenged the orthodox
position that Adam and Eve were not literal persons.
Romans is quite clear that there were a “first Adam” and
a “second Adam.”
Romans does not have the interpretive problems of Genesis 1-2.
To suggest that Adam was not a literal Adam is destroy
the “second Adam, no other than Jesus Christ Himself.
The fallacies of science are not even necessary to stand
concretely against his heresy,
but certainly when these fallacies are made a part of the
picture, the ridiculous claim of there not being a literal Adam
is seen in its naked light (pun unintended, but realized).
There are other lines to be drawn.
The origin of matter is necessary to evolution, a
metaphysical, not a scientific claim.
Big Bang, string theory, or whatever must start with
question that Leibniz asked, “Why is there something rather than
nothing?, cannot be answered by science.
Horgan has suggested that a much stronger line can be
drawn on the origin of life than attacking evolution.
I agree. The
former is a metaphysical claim; the latter is scientific theory.
Another, perhaps, even stronger line is “consciousness”
This reality challenges physicalism at its core and has
vigorously eroded it greatly.
On so on.
Evangelical Christians could make far stronger arguments against
their adversaries from concepts in the philosophy of science
than they can in arguing science against science.
Natural science has many weaknesses, and scientific
creationism in all its forms is only weak epistemology.
strongest line can be drawn at ethics.
As already stated, natural science can make no claim to
given a level playing field, Christianity has the most
definitive and prevalent claim to right and wrong.
There are only three ways to invoke an ethical position:
totalitarianism (might enforces its concept of
vox populi (the rule
of the majority), or bowing the knee to accepted authority.
In the West, and in view of the mixed religions and
philosophies of the East, Christianity by any reasonable
methodology has the greatest claim.
When “Thus says the Lord” is proclaimed, all other claims
fade into the background.
The social sciences (psychology, sociology, etc.) can
only report “what is,” they cannot make a claim to what is
“normal” and “right” without going outside their science to
A great problem in Christian ethics is that
Christians often have little idea of what their ethic is and
should be I
have no space to discuss that here, but may be found in some
brevity at my website,
The more important work is worldview: Biblical
application to economics, personal and corporate ethics, and
We Need to Recognize the
Science has never been more bereft of
foundational answers, and thus more inclined to supernatural
(metaphysical, speculative) matters.
What is an atom?
What is light?
What is an electromagnetic field?
What is a black hole?
How can matter and anti-matter exist together?
How can there be multi-verses?
Is the speed of light a universal constant?
What is the relationship of cause and effect, especially
in chaos theory?
John Jefferson Davis has given us a great
example of orthodox theology encountering cutting edge science
in the book, The
Frontiers of Science and Faith.
Nancy Pearcey and Thaxton in
The Soul of Science:
Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy
have given us the history of science and much of the
philosophy of science that affected its course.
Michal Polanyi and his followers have given us greater
understanding of the nature of faith, as well as the “faith”
that resides broadly and deeply in natural science.
And, there is more, much more in the philosophy of
science to more than counter the weak scholarship of
evolutionary science, dilettantes such as Richard Dawkins and
and even recognized authorities such as Stephen Dawkins.
Perhaps, the final question to consider is
whether a science of the Bible can be developed?
(1) Well, certainly a “natural science” could not be
developed because the Bible knows no such metaphysical position.
Methodological naturalism is the procedure of modern
Only methodological “supernaturalism” would be possible
from the Bible. All
natural and supernatural entities are created and sustained by
the ultimate “supernatural” Being.
(2) Biblical science would be deductive.
Empiricism, the modern scientific method, is inductive.
Experimentation is not possible, since the Bible is a
fixed source. So,
any “science” would to be understood in the worldview of the
authors, since they were limited to descriptions that could be
understood in their time.
Any extrapolations to modern science are fraught with
translation difficulties that would be tenuous at best.
(3) Then, there are the varying genres necessary for
interpretation: narrative, poetry, proverbs, speeches, allegory,
metaphors, and others that are not translatable to an
application of science, as we know it.
And so forth.
While I do not rule out a “science” of the
Bible, it is fraught with many difficulties.
I have not yet seen a Biblical science that takes all
these difficulties into consideration.
And, do we want to?
We must defend Biblical authority on issues of
epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics until our dying breath,
but is a Biblical science really useful?
Has not the empirical method that which God has given us
to subdue the earth, even with its fallacies, proven its
Christendom could use a more thorough and practical emphasis in
theology and ethics.
Let natural science discover its technology, and let the
Scriptures govern its ethical use to the glory of God.
I have tried to add to the framework of
Genesis-science-Biblical-theological discussions from
historical, epistemological, and philosophy of science issues.
Both “young” and “old” earth sciences are still subject
to the various fallacies of science.
The greater issue is the epistemology of the Bible, as
authority and faith.
Here, science h as a lesser claim than does inerrancy.
Both are based upon believing assumptions.
It is peculiar that persons in the community of Biblical
faith would so easily capitulate well exegeted and traditional
theological positions, such as a real person named Adam, to the
faith of science.
And, perhaps, scientific claims of evangelicals are sometimes
overstated, as the necessity of a 24-hour day in Genesis 1.
In this complexity of ideas, some clarity exists.
“To God be the glory.”
If we do not love our brothers and sisters, we deny being
Christians (I John 4:19-21).
That natural science excludes supernatural
considerations, not by “evidence,” but by definition.
That inerrancy and orthodox theology may need new
formulations without blurring sound Biblical truth.
Abraham Kuyper said that challenges to
Scripture were always to be welcomed, as its gold of truth was
only mined more deeply and broadly.
The 21st century has the potential to be the
greatest advance of Christianity in its 2000-year history.
There has never been a greater opportunity for the
advancement of evangelism and evangelical theology.
Will we manage the situation Biblically, scholastically,
and in grace and kindness?
following are personal notes to my presentation.
The reader may or may not find them helpful.
lady philosopher of science who gets it right.
Revolution: A History of Physics
from the Greeks to Einstein.
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1968.
Davis, J. J.
The Frontiers of
Science and Faith.
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Le Fanu, James (M.D.).
How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves.
(London, England: Harper Press, 2009).
Other books noted in the text and footnotes
Only one battle…
on conflict: what is truth (knowledge, wisdom).
What is the Bible ontologically, epistemologically, and
See the above
See you own “fencing the issues” in the old-young earth
debates. (Copied below.)
Fencing the Issues with Hans on his dissertation outline
The early chapters of Genesis are indeed
it or not, I went through a time of re-examining 6-day creation.
I did not find it as compelling as theologians and
scientific creationists make it out to be.
Much of what JJ (that’s what I will call Dr. Davis,
affectionately) says I have considered.
I have met him several times and he grew up in Macon, GA.
I have been studying logic and language
lately, which is timely for this review.
I will not go into great detail, but you can query me in
response if more is needed on some aspect.
There are some guiding principles that need to
be kept in mind.
The Bible is God’s revelation, inerrant and all that.
In my analysis, and in agreement with Gordon Clark (GHC),
it is the only truth that we will know in this life.
Everything else has some relativity and probability.
It is an objective source, subjectively interpreted.
(See #4 below.)
That these issues around creation ever came up is the
pressure of evolutionary “science”—pure and simple!
While we want to be honest with the “facts” of science,
we have to realize that the only reason such issues abound is an
atheistic, hell-bent-to-disprove-God attitude.
(a) Science is empiricism, ever changing.
The evolutionists don’t agree themselves.
Creation scientists do not agree.
Several times JJ makes reference to what was thought
“then,” what is though “now,” and what we will think “then.”
(b) Science is a paradigm, re: Kuhn, Polanyi, etc.
(a) So, without going further.
Empirical science is “iffy,” and Scripture is truth, and
the gulf is probably unbridgeable.
(b) Scripture is not a science book.
Now, the problem becomes what Scripture really
says. That is a
The language does allow some laxity, as JJ suggests.
I don’t buy the
yom “proof” of 24-hour days, but I think that one is on thin
ice to go against 6-day literal, calendar day (not exactly 24
hr.) creation for the reasons above and:
“In the beginning…” of what?
Space, matter, energy, AND time.
And, time began with “evenings” and “mornings.”
Throughout Scripture, especially in reference to the 4th
commandment, the readily apparent reading of Scripture is a
literal day. All
that is great evidence to overcome with “mere” science.
If you want probability, I would estimate in the 99.9
Let me add a few new wrinkles.
In our conversations and following, I have decided that
dualism is a test of orthodoxy.
Simply and plainly, that is what the Scripture teaches.
I would like to be an idealist, and I can speculate that
as a philosophy. I
can build an evidential base for it, but it would still be
has posited the spirit world and the physical.
Man is both.
Jesus Christ was both—the Incarnation seals it.
We should look at the “worldview” of those who differ on
When JJ says something, we ought to evaluate.
But, if Barth or Bultmann says something, we have to
remember that it is coming from their worldview.
That does not mean that they are wrong, but they are less
likely to be right.
The genealogies beginning with Genesis 5 have to be taken
as literal years.
We have to remember that Adam was the most intelligent
man that ever lived.
Even post-Fall, he was not a descendent of generations of
the noetic effects of sin.
So, as far as man’s intelligence is concerned, he is
devolving, not evolving.
Technology blinds us to that fact.
There is considerable evidence that people are less able
to learn today. Of
course, modern education is a factor as a “dummer downer.”
But, it seems JJ assumes the evolutionary scenario of man
evolving to become more intelligent and more “civilized,” but I
think that he errs here.
The anthropologists do not like to admit it, but the most
backward tribes of the world have a vocabulary that is
incredible and exhaustive… not simple.
Note the hunter-gatherer scenario on page 147.
That’s pure atheistic evolution and anthropology!
The differences between young earth creationists and
Christians with longer time frames should be more tolerant.
It is not axiomatic that “old earth” Christians are going
to throw out Biblical inerrancy, just because of this one issue.
(However, most strong Bible believers are young earth.)
There does need to be more grace and kindness here.
There is the issue of “life.”
What gives life?
You may create all the chemicals that make up a human
being, but what gives them life?
I think that life comes from the Spirit of God.
Man can never create a living thing.
Life can only come from life.
(Added later: see Horgan’s
The End of Science.)
Almost 20 years ago, I wrote that something
must regulate the DNA; it is only a blueprint. (See Le Fanu,
How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves.
There was the mad dash to map the human genome.
Where are the genetic cures?
There is more to matter than matter.
We had better not forget that, as Christians.
I appreciate and love JJ.
I read him for balance.
But, I am not impressed with the orthodoxy and Biblical
depth and breadth of the American Scientific Affiliation
Therefore, anything that they say is highly suspect.
The same holds for the Christian Medical and Dental
Society and the bioethics institute where you are.
I grant hermeneutical problems in early
Genesis, but I do not think that anything in empirical science
has sufficient standing as probability and temporary knowledge
to challenge anything that is generally considered to be
It seems that JJ is allowing the camel to get
more and more into the tent.
He does not have his “spectacles” (as Calvin would say),
those Biblical teachings that are sound, in place.
He is listening to voices that do not share his
Again, I do not think that 6-day creation
should be a test of orthodoxy, but Biblical inerrancy and other
central doctrines should, including dualism.
I am not all that familiar with the literature in these
areas, but it seems to me that most of these voices that JJ and
others are listening to, are non-orthodox, borderline orthodox,
and weak theologically.
Query as you like.
Indeterminacy of language… scientific language
and Biblical language
Communities: Jewish/Christian (open universe)
vs. atheistic naturalism (closed universe)
The Bible does not claim to be a science
textbook, but it is
It can give chronology and a human, divinely inspired,
The concept of faith,
belief: individual and community vs.
The computer that
takes over control from humans in
2001: A Space
and Protestant Thought, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans
Publishing Company, 1986), 168.
presented in his Divided Line in
“natural laws” exist only in theory.
For example, the formula for the speed of a
falling object exists only in a vacuum which does not
exist in “nature.”
In “outer space,” objects do not fall.
Laws have practical, that is operational, value,
but are nowhere true in nature.
of Philosophy, (Oxford, England: Oxford University
Press, 2008), 214.
Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy,
(Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1958), 15.
I have put
scientific method in quotes because there is no
consistent, universal “method.”
There are many “methods” within particular
sciences and variations from on science to another.
For example, see J. P. Moreland,
the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Investigation,
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), Chapter
decisions are my own formulation, but they represent
Polanyi’s and many others’ work accurately.
His system is
applicable to all areas of epistemology, including
theology with the exception Biblical truths that differ
from his approach, such as, his idea of evolution,
worship, and a few other topics.
I will say more
about “authority” below.
The tricky part
of faith is the source of knowledge: hearsay, life
experience, casual acquaintance, studied conclusions,
various authorities, group convictions, and Special
Revelation (the most trustworthy).
dependence of prior knowledge
is called the Duhem-Quine hypothesis.
relates to Kant’s use of “critical” in many of his book
titles and thus identifies the “modern” project of
British Journal of Science 3:11 (November 1952),
may be found online here:
Quoted in James
E. Loder and W. Jim Neidhardt,
Move: The Relational Logic of the Spirit in Theology and
Science, (Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers and Howard
Publishers, Inc., 1992), 39.
This statement alone should give great courage to
Christian claims for truth!
Evolution: Science or Myth?, (Washington, DC:
Regnery Publishing Company, 2000).
an appeal to reason, (Ipswich, MA: Gambit, 1978).
B. B. Warfield,
Augustine, (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and
Reformed Publishing Company, 1956) 388.
objective in the sense that the 66 books exist as a
fixed, unchanging source of knowledge that has existed
for over 1500 years.
I am making
reference to Thomas Kuhn’s shifting paradigms over time.
The Structure of
Scientific Revolutions, (Chicago, IL: Chicago
University Press, 1996, 3rd Ed.).
See McGrath on
Robert C. Koons
and George Bealer, eds.,
The Waning of
Materialism, (Oxford, England: Oxford University
IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002).
Crossway Books, 1994).
If one want to
see what one scholar thinks of Dawkins and Hitchens
(which he shortens to Ditchkins), see Terry Eagleton,
and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, (New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009).
is a loose paraphrase, but one that I think is true to