Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Problem with Science and History, Part 2

I strongly believe that there is nothing we can prove in science that will be contrary to a belief in God and the Bible.  If there are discrepancies, then either our interpretation of science is wrong, or our interpretation of the Bible is wrong.  God created the world and gave the universe consistent, logical laws.  Science is a detailed, logical, experimental study of the world.  The two cannot be inconsistent.

God created the world to show us more about Himself. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” And Psalm 19:1-4 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

Add to this the fact that God does not lie or deceive us (this should be obvious, but some Biblical references are Titus 1:2, Numbers 23:19, and Hebrews 6:18), and you should be able to draw the conclusion that God did not create the natural world in a manner that would teach us false or misleading information. If more and more scientific evidence is pointing toward an ancient universe, then we should learn from this, and not say that the evidence is misleading us or has been put there as a test to make it seem like the world is ancient even when it is not (which I have heard some young-earth theorists suggest).

What I have been reading in more and more curriculums is a strong belief that our interpretation of the Bible cannot ever be wrong, and this disturbs me greatly.  It brings up the whole sun-orbits-the-earth debate which got Galileo in trouble with the Catholic church and caused all sorts of theological crises in many people’s minds.

Galileo quoted Augustine:  “If anyone shall set the authority of Holy Writ against clear and manifest reason, he who does this knows not what he has undertaken; for he opposes to the truth not the meaning of the Bible, which is beyond his comprehension, but rather his own interpretation; not what is in the Bible, but what he has found in himself and imagines to be there.”

I read in one young-earth discussion, talking about ideas that try to harmonize the Bible with an old-earth or evolutionary theory:  “They are compromises that have destroyed the credibility of the Bible in the eyes of nonbelievers, so that the Bible’s authority even in moral matters is called into question.  Christians who struggle in their faith in the basic doctrines of the Bible think that if the Bible’s account of Creation, the Fall and Curse, and the Flood are merely myths or symbolic stories, then the doctrines of salvation, separation, and future judgment are probably myths or symbolic stories as well.”

This has not been my experience. My experience has instead been that disagreement about the scientific utility of Genesis has a minor effect on wavering believers, but the insistence on a young earth and absolutely no type of evolution has a major effect on non-believers and on scientifically-minded believers as well.  I have definitely heard non-believers in my scientific career circles dismiss Christianity solely because of the insistence of some believers in the young-earth theory.  The young-earth theory sounds so anti-science and so unbelievable to those who have studied geology or astronomy or several other sciences, that it is an immediate turn-off to many non-believers.  They say that if Christians can believe that, then there’s no way that anything else they believe can be right!

I had a classmate who was raised in a Christian home, who claims he was once a Christian, who turned into an atheist when he realized that evolution could be true. He did not believe that the Christian worldview could be reconciled with evolution, due to so many Christians who say they are irreconcilable.  He did not understand that even evolution, even the Big Bang, requires a Creator. So he kept his faith in his intellect and his logic, and disdained his faith in God.  If he had only been shown that both could be true, despite any apparent surface inconsistencies, he might not have fallen away from God!

As I mentioned earlier, whether the earth is young or old is a disputable matter. It may be a critical point to some people, and it may be a stumbling block, but it really should not affect our salvation. A person does not need to believe one way or the other in this matter to believe and trust in Jesus. The fact that Jesus is the sole way to God is not disputable. The age of the Earth is.

See Part 3.

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