Christ and Science 2
By Gerry Straker, 13 Jun 2020
This article is a follow on to this one, it would really help if you read that one first!
3. Science depends on Christianity
a. God began science
The first science in the Bible in Genesis 2, when God gets Adam to name the animals. Adam is the first taxonomist - he orders and names species like biologists do. And the Bible encourages exploring the world, developing the world and technology. You could have a read of Job 28 to see that.
But more than that, it is precisely because God created an ordered and beautiful world that science can exist. We can explore and measure and investigate because God created the world in an explorable, measurable and investigable way. Science is about investigating not just any world but God’s world: God made it possible.
As mathematician and theologian Vern Poythress puts it: ‘Real science means exploring and adventuring…And from time to time, after a long and exhausting climb, we catch a breathtaking glimpse of the beauty of God.’
God began science and...
b. Christians began science
Christians have delighted in exploring God's world. They have done science for God’s glory from the beginning of modern science.
- The Royal Society founded in 1662, dedicated their scientific enterprise to the glory of God.
- The British Association for Advancement of Science founded in 1865. The manifesto signed by 617 scientists declared the natural sciences to be in harmony with the Bible.
- Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
- Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
- Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
- John Ray (1627-1705)
- Niels Steno (1638-1686)
- Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1788)
- William Herschel (1738-1822)
- Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
- Asa Gray (1810-1888)
- Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)
- James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)
The reason why we can do science is because of God, and the reason why many scientists have done science is for God. And while plenty of scientists don’t believe in a Creator today, plenty of scientists today do believe in a Creator. Being a scientist does not require or lead to atheism!
c. Jesus rules science
The Son of God made the universe (Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16); and sustains all things by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17). Jesus keeps the universe going! This means that the law of Gravity is down to Jesus. What happens that we can observe and measure is down to Jesus. The movement of the planets in the solar system and the movement of the 7 octillion atoms in your body. The fact that we can do any science at all. The fact that many thousands of scientists right now are thinking and experimenting, is all down to Jesus.
The way things work is not down to Nature with a capital N or Laws with a capital L but down to a person. The world around us is not nature, it’s creation! It’s not Mother Nature or Laws in charge, it’s a person: the Lord Jesus!
(And by the way here’s why it’s perfectly reasonable for a Christian to believe in miracles! What we observe and measure is what normally happens. But because everything that happens is dependent on a Person, He is free to do some unusual things from time to time – what we call miracles)!
d. Scientists must believe in God
Vern Poythress writes this provocative sentence: ‘All scientists- including agnostic and atheists – believe in God. They have to in order to do their work’. How can this be?
Well, as we’ve seen Jesus rules Creation, and he rules science. God is not the God of the gaps, the bits we don’t understand. No, God is involved in all the regular predictable and repeating patterns. In Genesis 8, God promises this: 'As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’ And throughout the Bible, there are tons of examples of God’s protective care (e.g. Psalm 104:14, 20; Psalm 147:15-18).
And so Poythress can say: ‘Scientists describe the regularities in God’s word governing the world. So-called natural law is really the law of God or word of God imperfectly described by human investigators,’ Science depends on those regularities, including their instruments working in predictable ways. Without regularities, there would be nothing to study. All scientists must believe in and rely on scientific laws, in order to do their work.
And those laws have attributes that sound like they should be given to God. The laws (not necessarily the laws as they are currently described, but the laws that scientists are seeking to describe) are:
- omnipresent - universal in all places.
- eternal - universal in all times.
- unchanging or immutable.
- immaterial and invisible - you can’t see the laws, instead they are known through their effects.
- true or infallible.
- omnipotent – they can’t be broken.
These are all ways of speaking of God. What scientists depend on is the Word of God; the upholding of the universe by the Son of God. In order to do their work they depend on God’s Word. They may deny the truth of who is speaking, but their work depends on that speech! It’s the word of God that upholds the universe is that scientists are investigating! ‘So-called ‘law’ is simply God speaking, God acting, God manifesting himself in time and space.’
God the Father, the Speaker; God the Son, the Word spoken; and God the Holy Spirit, the breath of God carrying the Word out.
But if that’s the case, why don’t scientists believe this? The Bible tells us. Here’s Romans 1:18-23: '18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.'
These verses teach us that people know the truth about God from creation (8:19), and those truths are God’s eternal power and divine nature (8:20). But, people suppress that truth (8:18) and while they know God they neither honour him nor give thanks to him (8:21). That’s how people became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts are darkened (8:21) and althought they claim to be wise but are actually foolish (8:22). As Poythress puts it: ‘They know God, they rely on him, but because this knowledge is morally and spiritually painful, they also suppress and distort it.’  And so we can say that the love of impersonal scientific laws instead of the Personal Law-giver is idolatry.
While many most even scientists don’t acknowledge God, they do have to believe in him to do science - but they live in a strange tension denying the reality they depend on to do their work.
Science depends on Christianity - God began science, Christians began science, Jesus rules science, and scientists must believe in God (though they supress that truth) in order to do science. I hope you can begin to see that the relationship between the Bible and science is very different from what many people think!
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