Science is not a body of facts that can be compatible or incompatible with the Christian faith. Science is a tool for studying the world. As a tool, science can no more be in conflict with faith in God than a wrench or hammer.
In his book “Advice to a Young Scientist,” Nobel-Prize winning scientist Sir Peter Medawar simply defines science as “all exploratory activities of which the purpose is to come to a better understanding of the natural world.”
Christians certainly can, and certainly have, used the tool of science to explore and better understand the natural world. Another celebrated scientist, Johannes Kepler once described science as “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” Kepler referred to God because he was a devout Christian. In exploring the natural world with the tool of science, Kepler believed he had a glimpse into how God designed the universe to operate.
While science as a tool cannot contradict Scripture, scientists certainly can. As Professor John Lennox has pointed out, “Not every statement of a scientist is a statement of science.” Many contemporary scientists reject supernaturalism, the idea that there is anything outside of nature. Thus, they are opposed to any sort of supernatural claim apart from any evidence that might point towards God. That’s why many of the conclusions secular scientists might draw from their research will indeed contradict what the Bible teaches.
What should we do when the statements of scientists go against the Bible? I encourage my students to remember and think about these 10 principles when they face this issue related to the relationship between Christian faith and science:
- God is the creator of the cosmos (Gen. 1)
- God is the sustainer of the cosmos (Col. 1)
- God has revealed himself in nature (Rom. 1)
- God has revealed himself in Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16)
- The book of nature is fallen (Gen. 3, Rom. 8:22)
- The book of Scripture is inspired and inerrant (2 Pet. 1:21)
- Both nature and Scripture have to be interpreted.
- We approach issues of apparent contradictions with faith in
God and trust in the Bible, and not as skeptics.
- The apparent conflict could come from (a) our
misunderstanding of Scripture, (b) our misunderstanding of
nature, or (c) our misunderstanding of both.
- At the end of human history, when all the facts are properly understood, there will be no conflict between Scripture and
nature (Phil. 2:10-11).
It shouldn’t surprise us to know that unbelievers disagree with the Bible. There will be times when we feel isolated and in the minority because of our biblical convictions. The Bible teaches us to expect such things. But let us not trade our conviction in the trustworthiness of Scripture for the ever-changing consensus of modern day scientists (if such a consensus actually exists for however brief a moment of time).
Let us affirm with the Apostle Paul, “Let God be true, though everyone is a liar, as it is written: That you may be justified in your words and triumph when you judge” (Rom. 3:4).,
Published September 12, 2019