Bible and science. For some, these two things have absolutely no relation. One deals with matters of faith, and the other with matters of fact. The view of Biblical Christianity is that the Word of God is the authority by which all science must be judged. This view holds that the Bible and the God of that Bible give science the very foundations that it rests upon. We will examine this in more detail and show that it is only in the context of the Christian worldview that science finds its proper place. Unbelieving, materialistic, naturalistic worldviews cannot account for the basis of science.
What are the underlying assumptions of scientific endeavors? Can a naturalistic, materialistic, evolutionary worldview account for them? Let’s begin with what is called the uniformity of nature. I have touched upon this in my posts dealing with Carl Sagan and Revelation 4:8. Here is an excerpt from the second part of that article.
“When scientists conduct experiments, it is assumed that the laws of physics are the same in Albuquerque as they are in Tokyo. It is also assumed that an experiment performed under controlled conditions will give similar results when repeated in the future. How does a naturalist account for the uniformity of nature that science hinges upon? This is an assumption in every scientific endeavor, or else the pursuit of science would be impossible. An atheistic, naturalistic worldview cannot account for the uniformity of nature. Someone who holds this this worldview can still do science with great success, but cannot account for its foundations. When pressed, the best answer this worldview can give is that things have been that way in the past, so they will be that way in the future. They use their previous experience to account for the uniformity of nature. The question then arises, how can one trust their previous experiences? The naturalist answers, because it has worked in the past. They must rely on the uniformity of nature to account for the uniformity of nature. This line of argument is circular and shows that the uniformity of nature is a principle that scientists take by faith.”
On the other hand, the Christian finds the basis for the uniformity of nature in God. We expect the cosmos to behave in an orderly, logical fashion since God has created all things (John 1:1-3) and upholds all things (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). God has created the universe with certain behaviors that we call “laws.” We can expect these laws to be consistent throughout the universe because of God’s character and being. God is immutable and does not change (James 1:17; Malachi 3:6). Also, God is omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:23-24; Psalm 139) and omnipotent (Revelation 19:6; Psalm 115:3). This is the Christian’s basis for the uniformity of nature.
Greg Bahnsen in his article, “Revelation, Speculation and Science,” discusses another problem for the consistent naturalist. The naturalist believes that the universe is conducive to scientific endeavor. The processes of the universe can be studied and understood. The question must then be raised to the naturalist, “Why is this so?” How can one arrive at the belief that the universe is conducive to science? How can one trust that he can actually know the processes of the universe. Bahnsen explains this predicament further when he says,
“Here the scientist, who depends on the self-sufficiency of his logico-empirical procedures, is in a predicament. His response is usually to make various hypotheses about the world and then point to the beneficial results that flow from such hypotheses; he gives, can give, no reason for those hypotheses — they just are, because they work. If pressed, or if he is philosophically inclined, he may even go so far as to say that his “working hypotheses” have no reason unless it be “chance.””
The Christian’s answer to this problem, is that the universe was created by God and is providentially governed by Him. God created the universe with order, and He created man with the ability to investigate and understand that order, to a certain degree. The universe maintains that order by God’s sovereign control. Bahnsen goes on to state,
“The sovereign God controls all the operations of his creation, thus providing the uniformity we see in nature, a connection between the mind and the material world, a union of logic and facts, and standards of absolute truth.”
The presuppositions of science are Christian presuppositions. There is a fundamental relationship between the Bible and science. However, the Bible does not serve as a detailed textbook for science. It does not give us detailed technical information on the laws of science that God has put in place. There are some passages however that do speak to certain scientific laws. For example, Ecclesiastes 1:7 speaks of the water cycle when it says, “All the rivers run into the sea, Yet the sea is not full; To the place from which the rivers come, There they return again.” While we can cite other passages that may speak to certain scientific processes in the creation, we must understand that God has left it up to mankind to perform scientific endeavors as part of the “Creation Mandate.” Genesis 1:26-28 gives the Creation Mandate, “Then God said,”Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (ESV). We are to pursue scientific endeavors to fulfill the mandate given at creation, for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
(c) Dustin Crider 2009