CM on Our Attitude Toward Science

Dear Reader,

I tend to be an agnostic on many of the more controversial scientific issues of our day. I just don’t feel like I can navigate all the conflicting arguments. I hear one side and I think “that makes sense.” But then I hear the other side and they also seem to make sense. Often it comes down to a matter of whose facts you believe and I am just not equipped to evaluate the evidence.

I am also left with the feeling that it is hard to be a Christian and also know how to approach scientific debates. On the one hand, if I accept the testimony of the scientists, I am made to feel that I am a bad Christian and am not taking my Bible literally enough or that I am preferring the wisdom of man over that of God. On the other hand, the positions of other Christians make me feel very closed in and limited. I often feel that the Christian position is a small one which reduces the variety and amazing-ness of creation. Not that there is one Christian position on any scientific issue; I am aware that there isn’t. But one is often made to feel that this or that is the way Christians should approach a certain subject.

I remember being told that one explanation for dinosaur fossils is that God created the earth with a history that had never really happened. That is, that He made the earth with the fossils already in it to test our faith in Him. Now this explanation does make sense of the scientific evidence. But it also makes me uneasy about God. It makes God a deceiver which He is not.  And it limits His creation. It is sad to me to think that there could have been these magnificent creatures but there weren’t. Surely, God delights in His creation. I just cannot reconcile such a God with the One I know.

I have posted before on Charlotte Mason’s approach to science. She also lived in a time when there was a struggle between science and faith. Her response was to be cautiously receptive of new scientific ideas. In her third volume, School Education, she writes:

“If . . . parents recognize every great idea of nature as a new page in the progressive revelation made by God to men already prepared to receive such an idea; if they realise that the new idea, however comprehensive, is not final or all-inclusive, not to be set in opposition with that personal knowledge of God which is the greatest knowledge, why, then, their children will grow up with an attitude of reverence for science, reverence for God, and openness of mind . . . ” [School Education (Radford, VA: Wilder Publications, 2008) p.115]

There are two main points to get here. The first is that all new scientific revelation comes from God. I have noted before that Charlotte sees the Holy Spirit as the Great Educator. He is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. This is a good thing for us to remember as we seek to teach our children, but it also affects our understanding of new scientific knowledge. Because even if the scientists themselves do not acknowledge God, we know that all wisdom comes from Him. Now of course it could be that there is some false knowledge, some new deception that comes into the world as well. But that brigs us to the second point, that we must not view every new idea as final or conclusive. We can accept things provisionally without staking our whole reputations upon them. Allowing an idea to stand the test of time (and further scientific enquiry) is not a bad thing.

Most of all Charlotte is urging parents to act and speak in such a way that their children do not develop a fear or distrust of science (pp. 114-115). And this knee-jerk distrust which often is at its base full of fear is what bothers me so much in the attitude of many Christians toward science. And I am encouraged that her cautious approach is not so very different from my agnosticism on various issues.

What do you think? Do you find Christians tend to be afraid if science? How open an attitude should we have to new scientific ideas?

Nebby

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Patti on October 18, 2012 at 3:56 am

    All truth is God’s truth ultimately and I don’t think we need to be afraid of truth! Of course our beginning premises affect greatly how we interpret the current data. I believe the Bible is totally reliable in everything it communicates and that it is a safe framework to hang other ideas on. It, of course, doesn’t cover every detail, but it seems that as more is uncovered both in science and in things like archeology, the Bible is actually proven true, because it IS true. I don’t like the gymnastics that some do to be able to reconcile secular science teachings and the Bible, but I think we don’t need to be afraid of the data. Are you familiar with The Institute for Creation Research? From what I have seen they do a wonderful job of reconciling scientific evidence and the truth of the Bible. They don’t seem afraid of new findings or of wrestling with current information. Some of the topics they tackle are scientifically “over my head” but I am thankful to know that there are real scientists out there who show that actually the Bible reconciles much better with the scientific facts than evolution does. One example of this is that if one believes in a global flood it explains much of what evolution uses millions of years to describe. One interesting thing, is that as science unfolds in our current time even secular scientists are realizing that there is an obvious mind behind the world we live in. Things are too complex to have “just happened”. They are so wonderfully orderly and marvelously complex both in the macro and the micro! The scientific community, though not willing to acknowledge the God of the Bible is being forced to admit that we live in a world of “intelligent design”. Of course we know who that Designer is so enjoying nature and science slips into worship. Thanks again, for a thought provoking post.

    Reply

  2. […] Nebby from Letters from Nebby shares her thoughts about science in CM on Our Attitude Toward Science. […]

    Reply

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