Science has shaped our lives dramatically and a floodgate of new innovations and technological advances continue to increase in all spheres of knowledge. For Christians, however, science is not the end of all things, and is merely a branch of knowledge that discovers, categorizes and utilizes the knowledge woven into the fabric of the universe by a Sovereign Creator.
However, it is a fact that Christianity and science have often been pitted against each other, more so as reflected by the media, which has a tendency to portray conflict between Bible based belief and science.
Indeed, there are some Biblical teachings and doctrines which seem to conflict with majority scientific thought. For instance: Genesis 1:1 vs. the Big Bang; the order of creation vs. the order of evolutionary appearance; the Biblical curse on all creation vs. the evolutionary development of complexity; young Earth vs. old Earth; Adam’s sin brought death vs. extinction brought man and so on. In each of these cases, the Biblical teaching can be supported but individual scientific observations are hard to accommodate.
At the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held this February, Sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund reported that 17% of scientists polled in a recent survey describe themselves as evangelical. Over 10,000 people were polled, and of these 574 identified themselves as scientists. The survey focused on “rank and file” scientists, including those in health care, life sciences, computers, and engineering.
The survey also found that among the scientists, 17% said the term “evangelical” describes them “somewhat” or “very well,” compared to 23% of all respondents. Evangelical scientists are also more active in their faith than American evangelicals in general and are more likely to consider themselves very religious, to attend religious services weekly, and to read religious texts at least every week.
In addition to religious identity, the survey focused on perceptions people have about science and religion. About the same number of people in the general public perceive hostility by religious people toward science as perceive hostility by scientists toward religion—about 1 in 5.
But among evangelical scientists, a strong majority, (57%) perceive hostility from scientists toward religion, which may suggest Christians in scientific fields have negative experiences with fellow scientists in the workplace regarding their faith.
These findings give hope for many who wish to see more productive dialogued fostered between scientists and evangelicals, and even amongst those in the evangelical community.
So, what does one do when trying to witness to someone only to be rebuffed by the inappropriate view that science has disproved the Bible? Some will argue that evolution is true, that the earth is billions of years old and that science has proved it. They will thus argue that the Bible can’t be taken at face value, and that all those scientists cannot be wrong.
How then should a Christian respond? Dr. Larry Vardiman, physics department chairman of the Institute for Creation Research, wrote in a recent paper and said that, “when a conflict becomes evident between an apparent interpretation of the Bible and an apparent finding of science, it is not necessary to force a final determination to be made immediately without further investigation.
It is possible that a misinterpretation of either or both of the statements of Scripture or the evidence from science have occurred. Since of the two, Scripture speaks with greater clarity, until a satisfactory resolution can be made about the conflict, I will proceed with confidence in my interpretation of Scripture.”
This is a wonderful time to be a Bible-believing Christian. The scientific evidence, rightly interpreted, overwhelmingly supports the straight-forward reading of Scripture. Even in those areas of seeming conflict, research continually sheds new light, increasing our confidence in Scripture.
The difference between scientific observations and opinions of scientists, especially in historical arenas must however be kept in mind. Both evolution and creation rely on “unobserved” events—non-repeatable singularities. Both are views of history outside the realm of observational science.
Through careful study, scientists may discern how the human liver works, but this knowledge is far different from knowing how the liver originated. We must also remember that majority scientific opinion changes. On the other hand, Scripture doesn’t change. Our understanding of it may be enhanced by scientific discoveries, but not vice versa.
There are many examples of man’s “scientific discoveries” that were already in the Scriptures thousands of years before the fact:
The Round Shape of the Earth – “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in,” (Isaiah 40:22).
The Earth is suspended in nothing – “He spreads out the northern [skies] over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing,” (Job 26:7).
The Stars are Innumerable – “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be,” (Genesis 15:5).
The Existence of Valleys in the Seas – “The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils,” (2 Samuel 22:16).
The Existence of Springs and Fountains in the Seas – “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month — on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened,” (Genesis 7:11);(Genesis 8:2); (Proverbs 8:28).
The Existence of Water Paths (Ocean Currents) in the Seas – “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!… When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,… You made him [man] ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet… the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas,” (Psalm 8:1,3,6,8).
The Hydrologic Cycle – “He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight,” (Job 26:8); “He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind,” (Job 36:27-28); “The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again,” (Ecclesiastes 1:6-7).
The Concept of Entropy – “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded,” (Psalm 102:25-26).
The Nature of Health, Sanitation, and Sickness – Leviticus chapters 12 through 14.