Science, the Sciences, and the Queen of the Sciences

I have been thinking recently about science and its relationship to theology. In the Middle Ages, theology was the queen of the sciences. This held true even through the time of the Reformation, when theology was taught at universities. With the rise of the Enlightenment, specifically the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, all that changed. Kant’s philosophy was that there are two realms, if you will: the noumenal realm and the phenomenal realm. The former had to do with the nous, the mind. It was the realm of what is unseen. The phenomenal world is that of our senses. Kant argued that we cannot know anything about the noumenal world. That is, nothing from the noumenal world can reveal itself to us. At one stroke, therefore, he ruled out of court any such thing as revelation from God. Because of this philosophy, theology was no longer taught at universities. Departments of religion replaced departments of theology. All other fields became more and more fragmented, since theology is the only science that can hold the others together in any kind of unity, since theology is the only science that bridges natural and special revelation.

But this raises a problem when it comes to our understanding of science today. Science today looks at the data of what is in the universe, and seeks to understand it by positing theories that might explain how things came to be the way that they are. Science, therefore, can only exist in the theoretical world. Science cannot arrive at truth, since the data could theoretically be explained in another way. People thought the earth was flat until Pythagoras came along. People thought that the sun revolved around the earth until Galileo and Copernicus. People thought that the sun was the fixed center of the universe until Einstein came along. Theories come and go. But if this is so, what is to prevent us from seeing theology in the same way, if we posit that theology is a science? Why isn’t theology mere theory?

The answer to this question lies in the nature of the data. Although natural revelation and special revelation are both from God, the latter is like a pair of spectacles (so says Calvin) that helps us to understand everything else. Natural revelation was sufficient before the Fall. And if Adam and Eve had not fallen into sin, it still would be sufficient. The Bible only came about because of the Fall. We can’t see properly unless we put on the spectacles. We will ultimately come to wrong conclusions about natural science unless we first put on the spectacles! Modern science is starting to see, in one sense, that our conclusions are not merely determined by the data. Our presuppositions play a large part in how we read the data. Unfortunately, when it comes to a theory like evolution, the role of presuppositions is typically ignored by modern man, such that he holds evolution to be fact and not theory. But does a theory about origins have more or less authority than the spectacles of God’s Word? Which is the pair of spectacles? Natural science or theology? I just started reading Peter Enns’s newest book, and he definitely believes that evolution is part of the frame of reference for reading the Bible, and not the other way around. He speaks of evolution as fact, and not theory. Whatever else we can say, then, we can certainly say that Enns does not understand the nature of science as theory, not fact.

Theology needs to reign once more as the queen of the sciences. Only then can we halt the progressive fragmentation of knowledge and seek to reunify knowledge again. Kant was wrong. God can and has revealed himself to man. Only by that revelation can our nous (“mind”) be renewed. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Scripture does that by the power of the Holy Spirit. This has far more authority than science ever could.

The case of Galileo is usually misunderstood as the church persecuting Galileo for his views on heliocentrism. However, if you read Owen Barfield’s book Saving the Appearances, you will see a different facet at play. The church was actually more concerned about the relationship of science to Scripture and theology. They were far more concerned about the fact that Galileo posited science as fact, and that he was putting science over the Bible as more authoritative. The issue of heliocentrism was involved, certainly, but the case was more complicated than simply “the church persecuting the misunderstood-but-correct scientist (bad church, bad church!).”

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62 Comments

  1. Dennis said,

    May 6, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Lane,

    Have you read Pope JPII’s encyclical Fides et Ratio?

    He essentially comes to the same conclusion you do.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html

  2. Ron said,

    May 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Lane,

    Natural revelation was sufficient before the fall, but sufficient for what? You later say that the Bible came about because of sin, yet the Bible is special revelation, which too was necessary before the fall but precisely because natural revelation was not sufficient then, at least in some respect. So, how was it sufficient and how wasn’t it?

  3. greenbaggins said,

    May 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Ron, these are difficult questions, to be sure. I would put it this way: there was some special revelation necessary before the Fall. The specific commands God gave Adam would seem conclusive to demonstrate this. However, the Bible was not necessary before the Fall, since mankind needed no salvation. Adam and Eve did not need their vision corrected before the Fall. Adam and Eve could interpret natural revelation perfectly before the Fall, because their presuppositions lined up with God’s own. After the Fall, however, the presuppositions of mankind became those of rebellious, autonomous man. In that situation, the spectacles became needed if man were ever to be able once again to interpret natural revelation clearly.

  4. Ron said,

    May 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Lane,

    Yes, these are difficult questions. Couple thoughts…The Bible is not the gospel and the gospel existed prior to the Bible but you seem to equating the two but surely you distinguish them. I only point that out for semantic precision should this become a marathon thread, though I’m not inclined to contribute much due to other commitments. Also, not just imperatives suggest the necessity of special revelation before the fall but also we can infer that there were indicatives that were revealed through special revelation, again limiting the areas of sufficiency for natural revelation.

  5. Steve Drake said,

    May 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I applaud this post Lane. Since sound theology alone provides the basis for science, justifying its presuppositions, and since science ultimately rests on the Biblical doctrine of creation, the battleground is to reawaken– viz-a-viz your ‘thinking about science and its relationship to theology’–a proper understanding of how the secularists since Kant have hijacked science to the ‘dark side’, and then used ‘dark side’ science to bolster their worldview. It is this hubris in the unstated premise of positivism–that science rules the realm of truth–that Christians must challenge with the unregenerate.

  6. Roger said,

    May 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Those who put their trust in science as the key to understanding the universe ought to be embarrassed by the fact that science can never discover the truth. Karl Popper, one of the twentieth century’s greatest philosophers of science, admitted as much:

    “First, although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it…. [W]e know that our scientific theories always remain hypotheses…. [I]n science there is no ‘knowledge’ in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth…. Einstein declared that his theory was false: he said that it would be a better approximation to the truth than Newton’s, but he gave reasons why he would not, even if all predictions came out right, regard it as a true theory…. Our attempts to see and to find the truth are not final, but open to improvement:…our knowledge, our doctrine is conjectural;…it consist of guesses, of hypotheses rather than of final and certain truths.”

    Observation and science cannot furnish us with truth about the universe, let alone truth about God. The secular worldview, which begins by denying God and divine revelation, cannot furnish us with knowledge at all. Only God’s self-revelation in Scripture can do that.

  7. Don said,

    May 7, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Roger 6 said,

    The secular worldview, which begins by denying God and divine revelation, cannot furnish us with knowledge at all.

    I don’t really understand this, unless you’re using a rather novel definition of “knowledge.” Are you saying that a nonchristian couldn’t tell me, say, the color of my shirt? Obviously, that’s a rather trivial bit of knowledge to furnish, but I don’t see how your absolutist statement (“at all”) is very useful.

  8. May 7, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Compatibilists hold that science and theology are compatible and view them as complementary revelations of God. As God is the source of both his specific revelation of himself in the Christian faith and the source of the general revelation of himself in nature, the findings of science and theology cannot really contradict; the contradictions must be merely apparent and a resolution possible which is faithful to the truth of God’s revelation.

  9. May 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Hey, bro! Good stuff. Just a couple of comments:

    1. I’m finding Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey quite helpful in analyzing the upper story/lower story (as in Schaeffer) dichotomy throughout the ages, even as the Reformers did it. I think this book goes a long way towards reunification and the obliteration of that dichotomy.

    2. I think a fruitful line of inquiry would be to think about the intersection of mathematics, science, and theology. Mathematics has a different epistemology than science, and, I would argue, has a much higher degree of certainty than science. Science tends to view mathematics as its language. The metaphor is not exact, but it can be helpful. So how does that fit in with theology? One thing to think about would be this: just how certain is mathematics?

  10. Andrew McCallum said,

    May 7, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Very nice post, Lane. I wish that everyone who wanted to weigh in on evolutionary theory would read something from the history of the “Science Wars” where the philosophers of science (Popper, Kuhn, etc) sought to work out just what this thing called science is and why it should be a accorded a unique epistemological status. In the end there was no real resolution, but so many of the popular apologists for the hard sciences, including those in Christian institutions, today speak as if there was/is no debate. I really wonder how much folks like Enns know about the history of science.

    This is sort of a tangential thought – If theology is to be queen of the sciences again we will need to adopt an understanding of the relationship between theology and culture, in this case a relationship of theology and the sciences, that is something other than what the W2K folks propose.

  11. Bob B said,

    May 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I believe that truth about God can be revealed both through theology and the sciences, and that a certain amount of authority rests with both. Ultimately, the two should be in agreement with one another.

    With Galileo you have a situation where the church is behaving very poorly. The fact of the matter is that Galileo using science grasped a truth about God’s universe that the church didn’t grasp right away. Due to his rather poor handling of the situation, the Church then locked him up.

    Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that Galileo was dead wrong. The church’s reaction was still very unchristian and uncharitable (seriously – they locked a guy up for disagreeing). If you are defending the church in the case of Galileo, I would assume that you would need to defend the church in their disagreement with the Protestants… which I don’t think is a position you are willing to take on this blog.

    You are correct, Galileo was challenging the authority of the day and insisting that his experiments had more authority than the church does. I would argue that ‘authority’ comes from being ‘correct’, and in this case Galileo was the correct one. Authority can only be valid in so far as it agrees with God’s revelation (both scripture and natural). In Galileo’s time, on the issue of heliocentric solar system, science is the lens illuminating scripture. Does this give science a free pass? By all means no. Both science and scripture should be searching (and finding) truth about God and his creation… and I fail to see how battling which one is the ‘authority’ actually helps things. There is truth and not-truth – and God apparently doesn’t always use the church as the ultimate decider of truth. If He did, we would all be Catholics with a pope, and it would be justifiable to lock up people who disagree with that authority.

    The Spirit of God both breathed the Bible and hovered over the waters. There is authority in both Science and Theology, and Good Science has more authority than Bad Theology. There is no queen??

  12. Tim Harris said,

    May 7, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    1. Science is a method; it has no authority.
    2. Science is not revelation — special or general. As Berkouwer cogently explains, Revelation is revelation of God. It is immediate. Science is doing something altogether different. For example, the stars reveal the glory of God — immanently, immediately. That is general revelation. When a scientist comes along and measures the wavelengths of the light emitting from the star, parallax, etc. that is at most mathematizing the providence of God, but it is no sense new or additional revelation of anything that every man does not already have just by viewing the stars. Unless discovering gold is “revelation,” or even discovering that your laundry needs doing.

  13. Nick said,

    May 8, 2013 at 3:36 am

    To say “Natural Revelation was sufficient” before the Fall (or at any time for that matter) is a form of Pelagianism, conflating natural and super-natural realms. This error would entail that Reformed soteriology is Pelagian. Dr Bryan Cross has spoken frequently on this.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Nick, to say that saving revelation was needed before the Fall denies the idea that creation was very good. I have already stated that there was special revelation before the Fall. However, special revelation was not needed in order to interpret natural revelation. Man, in his innocence before the Fall, did not need the spectacles of Scripture. I find it more than a little ironic that a proponent of a semi-Pelagian soteriology such as yourself would accuse a Protestant of Pelagianism.

  15. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Bro, thanks for the book recommendation. I will follow that up. As to your second point, if our dear father is correct, mathematics has for its bedrock Scripture itself (our father J.C. Keister once wrote an article proving that all the major and basic axioms of math are found to be assumed or implied in Scripture). Being fed by the streams of both natural and special revelation, it would seem that you are correct in saying that mathematics has a higher epistemological certitude than the other sciences.

  16. Steve Drake said,

    May 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Adrian @ #9,

    Science tends to view mathematics as its language. The metaphor is not exact, but it can be helpful. So how does that fit in with theology? One thing to think about would be this: just how certain is mathematics?

    and Lane #16,

    mathematics has for its bedrock Scripture itself (our father J.C. Keister once wrote an article proving that all the major and basic axioms of math are found to be assumed or implied in Scripture).

    Yes, thanks for pointing in this poignant direction. The modern-day secularist, thinking mathematics and science his redoubt, assumes that the Biblical God of Judeo-Christian Scripture is silent in this realm, especially mathematics. Yet fundamentally, the question “Why does a mere product of man’s autonomous mind accurately model the workings of the physical world?”, cannot be answered.

  17. Nick said,

    May 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Lane,

    I don’t see it as an issue of creation being good vs bad. The issue is more that there is information that goes beyond nature that nature doesn’t tell us, such that there is a Trinity of Persons rather than just one Divine Person. There is nothing in nature you could observe and come to know such truths as the Trinity, angels, etc. And this is where Faith comes into play also, for the gift of faith is needed to recognize and assent to those revealed truths, like a telescope that lets you recognize planets exist beyond the ‘range’ of what your natural eyesight permits.

    If you believe special revelation (which I interpret to mean divine revelation) existed before the Fall, then this would seem to contradict your claim that “Natural revelation was sufficient.” Since Adam started off in intimate communion with God in Eden, it would actually necessitate a steady stream of divine revelation alongside Adam observing natural revelation. In fact, the only way Adam could have been in communion with God is if Adam had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    The reason why I would label that a form of Pelagianism is because saying something to the effect of ‘nature is sufficient’ either denies the need for divine assistance or it reduces divine assistance to the natural/created order. Many people think Pelagianism is defined as man working versus God working, when in reality Pelagianism is opposed to synergism. Either one is Pelagian or one is Synergist, with no middle ground.

  18. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    My point is not actually that Adam didn’t have or even need special revelation for his relationship to God. My point is that he didn’t special revelation for him to understand natural revelation. He didn’t need the corrective vision of Scripture for that. As evidence, I would point out the fact that Adam named the creatures without God’s special help. Adam understood the nature of the animals well enough on his own in order to name them. Naming, of course, implies authority over the animals.

    I am at a bit of a loss, then to know how in the world a statement like “nature is sufficient” denies the need for divine assistance, let alone reducing God’s assistance to the natural order.

    While it is true that full-blown Pelagianism is not synergistic (because man doesn’t even need salvation in his natural state, according to them), it shares this in common with semi-Pelagianism: man is the determining factor in whether man obtains eternal bliss. Oh, semi’s will claim that we need grace. But they will also say that we have to cooperate with grace.

  19. Nick said,

    May 9, 2013 at 12:33 am

    I guess I don’t understand what your original statement was getting at then:

    Natural revelation was sufficient before the Fall. And if Adam and Eve had not fallen into sin, it still would be sufficient. The Bible only came about because of the Fall.

    This quote gives the impression that the Bible (special revelation) “only came about” to supply knowledge that was natural to man but was lost. I agree that Adam understood the natures of animals to name them, but I don’t think naming animals pertains directly to salvation, nor does the Bible really restore that kind of information to us.

    How did Adam know that God was a Trinity apart from special revelation? What about nature did Adam observe and come to that conclusion?

  20. Thomas Martin said,

    May 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Theology is not the “Queen of science”. Theology is mans understanding of special revelation and science is mans understanding of general revelation. Special revelation is “the Word” and it was not created it exsisted always…general revelation was created in “the beginning” …So special revelation is supreme to general revelation

  21. Bob B said,

    May 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

    @Thomas 21

    I agree with your entire statement, very succinct. Special revelation (God) is supreme to general revelation (nature).

    What does not follow though is that Theology (the study of God) trumps Science (the study of creation). Science needs to be the lens for theology, just as theology needs to be the lens for science. In the study of both, truth needs to reign over agendas.

    @Tim 12
    I disagree with your 2nd statement. When the scientists at CERN smash atoms together and tell me about their results, this isn’t something I can do on my own. They are revealing to me something previously unknown about creation. Even your example, looking at the stars, Is tremendously enhanced by the science of astronomy. What Science is doing is revealing the laws of nature that God put in motion at creation. This tells us something about nature, and more importantly tells us something about God.

  22. Ron said,

    May 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Bob,

    I don’t see that you stepped into Tim’s paradigm with an internal critique of it but maybe you have.

    I’d say that to map out providence in order to draw inference is not to learn anything we don’t know already and immediately about God. For instance, we know already that God is sovereign and majestic, and although these attributes are displayed in various ways, no matter how powerful the telescope we don’t come to know these attributes for the first time through science. In fact, it can be argued that atomistic learning, although useful, takes a back seat to the splendor of the unity and divsersity we see apart from deeper, more sophisticated research and reflection. (I digress.) In any case, we already know the proposition “God is glory” to be true. From there we can witness (know if you prefer) how his glory is displayed in creation, providence and grace. Notwithstanding, we mustn’t conflate knowledge of creation with knowledge of the Creator, who we know a priori. Nor should we conflate knowledge of God with a deeper appreciation for the God we know. So, to know God is love is one thing. To know that God has loved me in this way or that way is something else. In the like manner, to know God is sovereign over all things is one thing.To know he was sovereign over an historical event, say 9-11, is something else. I think you might be collapsing knowledge of God into his sovereign demonstration and application of that a priori knowledge.

    What Science is doing is revealing the laws of nature that God put in motion at creation.

    I’d say science doesn’t “reveal,” God does. And what God reveals about himself nature is not discursive; yet what we can glean about what he is doing in creation can be. Certainly there isn’t some attribute we haven’t yet stumbled upon but might later through scientific progress. That, I trust, we can all agree upon.

  23. Thomas Martin said,

    May 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Bob

    My second statement above was that special revelation (scriptures) trumps general revelation (nature). Both Theology and Science must be ready to defend themselves first against their peers.

    Scientists more often then Theologians require a defined postulate backed by experimental data before validating ideas in their respective fields of knownledge. Thus the current “string theory with multiverses” is one area of science that physicists are stumped on how to obtain data to validate their theory and further expound on nature or general revelation.

    Theologians must rely on the “writen” evidence of scripture and first validate it as being close as possibkle to the “original” manuscripts and then through standard acceptable practices of exegesis discover the “layers” of meaning.

    Both professions require dedicated individuals who seek to discover God’s Truth in scripture and nature.

  24. Thomas Martin said,

    May 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Hi Ron

    I agree that science is not revelation just as theology is not revelation but merely mans knowledge or understanding of general and special revelation specifically.

    The problem with Special Revelation is that the “original” manuscripts are out of “our reach” so the theologians have “rose tinted glasses ” to examine special revelation just as science has bad theories and bad data to examine to explain God’s general revelation. I believe the Holy Spirit is God’s agent sent to encourage both the Theologian or the Scientist of His choosing to discern the truth from the Two Revelations given by God.

  25. Ron said,

    May 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Thomas,

    I’ll only comment on one part, which is if not having the original manuscripts is as debilitating as you seem to suggest, then theologians cannot examine “special revelation” at all for it wouldn’t exist. In other words, we can only study and know that which is; so if we don’t have special revelation apart from the original manuscripts then I’m afraid we cannot examine special revelation even badly. It would not be a matter of “rose tinted glasses” but rather a matter of pitch black blinders.

    Of course God preserved his special revelation for us and although the original manuscripts are without error, we can be assured nonetheless that what we have is no hindrance to knowing God through the means he intended. In a word, there is no “problem with Special Revelation” as you say.

  26. THomas Martin said,

    May 10, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Ron
    My point exactly, as you say. the “infallibilty” resides with the original. scriptures but they are still sufficient for the “usual means” of salvation and more.

    The nuances of faith, some might call the “minors”, causes some confessional believers to wane from being full subscriptionist because the scriptures are “rose tinted”.

    Finally, as for some believers, where scripture is less clear, despite their strong faith, they teeter from Arminianism to hyper- Calvinism, and even converting from Protestanism to Catholicism or Orthodoxy.

  27. Ron said,

    May 10, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Finally, as for some believers, where scripture is less clear, despite their strong faith, they teeter from Arminianism to hyper- Calvinism, and even converting from Protestanism to Catholicism or Orthodoxy.

    Thomas,

    Certainly you don’t want to index polar positions such as Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism to a lack of translation perspicuity, let alone a lack clarity that would be resolved had God allowed us to retain the autographa. Yet that seems to be your position.

  28. Cris Dickason said,

    May 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Thinking of the original post and the idea that theology was once considered the “queen of the sciences,” particularly as it provided an integrating function over the divisions of learning…

    This slogan, Theology is the queen of sciences is certainly true for me, that is, it is my desire to live and think in conformity to the word of God. I consider myself an (amateur) Van Tillian, which puts an extra emphasis on how I approach the distinct disciplines of thought (academia) and life.

    Recently in my work – Info services in healthcare, I made the observation, simply because we have a database of data, and the ability to extract data or “reports” does not man we can have comprehensive knowledge about some specific issue (how many patients visits of this or that type,etc.). We can’t assume we have comprehensive and consistent data, even when the perfect and most elegant query or algorithm has been composed. I attribute my caution to my Van Tillian training.

    -=Cris=-
    Cris of Two Circles

  29. Cris Dickason said,

    May 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Here’s something to consider with respect to the relationship of general & special revelation.

    1. Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God

    Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and
    sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and
    of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one
    precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern. In the
    first place, no one can look upon himself without immediately
    turning his thoughts to the contemplation of God, in whom he
    “lives and moves” [Acts 17:28].

    2. Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self

    Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge
    of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then
    descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself.

    Institutes, I.1.1 and I.1.2, McNeill/Battles, LCC Ed.

    Recall that Calvin’s Institutes begin with Book I, The Knowledge of God the Creator, followed by Book II, The Knowledge of God the Redeemer.

    BTW: Italicized section headings are not Calvin’s work, McNeill/Battles took most from Weber’s German edition. Theyu are however, helpful.

  30. Andrew Buckingham said,

    May 11, 2013 at 10:11 am

    What I found striking after finishing Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” is his and the scientists he engaged being remarkably open about admitting how much through their study of science “they just don’t know.” I think, along with Machen, we Christians can affirm, “There is no virtue whatever in ignorance, but much virtue in a knowledge of what God has revealed.”

    Thanks, Lane, for sharing your thoughts with us and allowing us to share on your blog.

  31. Thomas Martin said,

    May 11, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Man’s pursuit for “knowledge”, irrespective of good or evil intentions, resulted in original sin. To call anything “the Queen of science” once again waxes poetic of the “serpent whispering to Eve”.

    When we define science loosely as the system of knowledge within a field then to call Theology the queen and systematic theology her crown
    (RC Sproul), it then begs the questions, ” Who is the King?” and “Did he abdicate his throne to the queen or is he just humoring her?”

  32. Thomas Martin said,

    May 11, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Ron,
    To have a “disputed” canon leaves the field with too much “cannon” fodder.

  33. Thomas Martin said,

    May 11, 2013 at 11:28 am

    So, despite theology or the other sciences, it appears that one’s Epistemology mirrors one’s Ontology.

  34. Steve Drake said,

    May 12, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I just started reading Peter Enns’s newest book, and he definitely believes that evolution is part of the frame of reference for reading the Bible, and not the other way around. He speaks of evolution as fact, and not theory. Whatever else we can say, then, we can certainly say that Enns does not understand the nature of science as theory, not fact.

    A problem not only with Enns, but with current pastors and theologians within the PCA, and elsewhere, and the lay people who follow them who cannot or will not see and understand the symbiotic and developmental relationship of science to Christian theism. A fundamental failure to see and understand that Christian theology justifies the presuppositions of science; that the presuppositions of science are foundationally Christian in nature.

    This becomes the task of our day then. We must mount logical assaults on science’s most foundational axioms. The unregenerate stole them from us in the first place, and it is our job to get them back. It is also our task to make manifestly clear to people like Enns and our fellow brothers and sisters who think that scientific arguments tip the balance interpretively against God’s clear revelation in Scripture, that this is inherently contradictory.

  35. Thomas Martin said,

    May 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    @Steve
    in reference to
    >>We must mount logical assaults on science’s most foundational axioms.<<

    As a Follower of Christ for 45 years with a faith rooted in a reformed systematic theology and vested in a 30 year career as a scientist,
    I agree in principle with your statement but:
    1. I would substitute the word "assault" with maybe "dialogue".
    2. Use the appropriate "we" with the appropriate audience.

  36. Steve Drake said,

    May 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Hey Thomas @36,
    We must mount logical ‘dialogue’ upon science’s most foundational axioms just doesn’t have the same tenor to it. Whatever we say ‘in dialogue’ with secular naturalists about their most basic axioms and fellow believers that agree in principle with them, and that these axioms are only supported from a position of Christian theism, thus making any scientific argument against God’s revelatory self-disclosure in Scripture inherently contradictory, will seem like an attack or assault to them. And well it should be. This can be pointed out with gentleness and respect, and with a lot of love on an individual one on one basis, but the use of polemics in writing has a long history.

  37. Bob S said,

    May 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    27 Thomas,

    Not to hijack the thread, but as Ron alluded to in 26 and as the WCF 1:8 says, God has preserved faithful copies of his infallible Word in Greek and Hebrew in his church – even though we don’t have the original manuscripts or autographa.

    OTOH if the apographa or copies that we do have are not reliable or infallible then Bryan, Mikey and Jase over at the Truly Apostolic And Infallible Church will be more than happy to accept your application for membership.

    FTM arguably modern protestantism, so far as it buys into the Hort Westcott paradigm, has to rely on the inter-library loan of Codex Vaticanus from where else? – the Vatican library, in order to have a faithful copy of the Word of God.
    The WCF though affirms the so-called received text found in and used by the church historically, not that recently restored by modern textual critics according to Warfield’s gloss of 1:8.

    That aside and before the lights get turned out, one’s theology ultimately determines everything else. That’s why it is called the queen of the sciences. While modern science is very helpful, it can never truly tell us anything or what the truth is. Only theology can do that. Again the reason for it’s title, however much the fundamentalists, liberals, mystics, materialists, empiricists and rationalists quibble, balk and demur.

  38. Thomas Martin said,

    May 12, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    @Bob S

    I subscribe to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
    with Exposition with its specfic arguments concerning transmission and translation errors.

    I also think WCF !:10 more then adequately summarizes how the Holy Scriptures remain the supreme judge in controversies of religion,

    I would not yield the same to any or I should say any single persons theology no matter how narcissitic they may appear to be.

  39. David Palmer said,

    May 13, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I haven’t read the comments here, just the post.

    I think great care is required with statements like “science can only exist in theoretical world” or “science cannot arrive at truth”.

    Whilst presuppositions definitely impinge upon how data is read and undoubtedly can even squeeze the data into support for a favoured interpretation or theory, it still remains true that reality eventually catches up with every false manipulation.

    Darwinian evolution will not be debunked on the basis of an attack on presuppositions, however instructive that may be, but on the basis of a more compelling scientific reordering of facts in the light of new knowledge. Likewise for an old earth.

    We need to be careful about how we view natural and special revelation. The Bible clearly establishes the general theological principles (divine attributes, Creator/creature distinction, the cultural mandate, love of God and neighbour) that become the lens through which we interpret and apply the knowledge found in general revelation. However we don’t expect the Bible to be a manual for architects, mechanics or scientists investigating natural phenomena. The age of the earth or the truth or otherwise of Darwinian evolution ultimately comes down to scientific evidence, and sure that evidence is contested.

    Clearly no one any longer will argue for geocentrism as they once did even citing biblical texts. It increasingly appears that the evidence for an old earth is approaching the incontestable, whereas the scientific basis for Darwinian evolution remains far from overwhelming.

    Ultimately Genesis is God’s account, accommodated to human frailty, childishness as Calvin suggests (we cannot even begin to know God as He is known to Himself) whereby we learn that God is the almighty amazing Creator who creates for purpose, including our first parents, (the historical) Adam and Eve as His image bearers to guard, work the creation to its full potential, in turn a beautiful offering to God. Alas…..

  40. Thomas Martin said,

    May 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    It would be foolish to deny the fact that theologywas crowned the “Queen” of the sciences, by the learned community and that the sentiment peaked during the High MIddle Ages.

    From the turmoil of Great Western Schism and “the peace” within the church during the Reformation, the sentiment for the “Queen” within the “learned” community greatly waned By the age of the Enlightenment, men like Kant seekings answers for the metaphysical questions of life were disatisfied by the answers given by their ‘learned” theologian collegues. This distrust of the theologians drove the last nails into the coffin of the “Queen”.

    One holding a Reformed perspective would speculate it was the will of a Sovereign God. A reformed individual understands the church is the bride and true “Queen” of our KIng. The Last Adam would not visibly share the throne with an illegitimate “Queen”, doned in her learned robes of the theologian and pontificating another gospel.

  41. Steve Drake said,

    May 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

    David @ #40,

    Darwinian evolution will not be debunked on the basis of an attack on presuppositions, however instructive that may be, but on the basis of a more compelling scientific reordering of facts in the light of new knowledge. Likewise for an old earth.

    and,

    The age of the earth or the truth or otherwise of Darwinian evolution ultimately comes down to scientific evidence, and sure that evidence is contested.

    There is plenty of evidence and ‘new knowledge’ already out there to debunk both evolution and an old earth. It is the prebelief about the nature of God’s Word that is the heart of the issue for the Christian. It is the Christian capitulation to unregenerate man’s word (read science) as the final arbiter of truth about the natural world, that I think, is part and parcel of Lane’s point in the original post. Thus, science should once again, as in it’s original formulation, be subordinated to theology.

    Science cannot work unless on the basis of foundations found only in Christian theology, chief of which is causal continuity found solely in the person of God. Since Christianity relies on revelation, and since revelation is largely comprised of historical narrative, then it is that narrative that is important to our understanding of natural history. Some people call that ‘unscientific’, hoping that most will make the emotive leap from ‘scientific’ to ‘true’. The Christian should not be one who falls under the spell of this semantic trick.

    Ultimately Genesis is God’s account, accommodated to human frailty,…

    Sounds very similar to what Enns is saying, although Enns takes it in an entirely different direction than Calvin, and to which you seem to be implying.

  42. Thomas Martin said,

    May 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

    All sciences should be filtered and gaged against “the entire Council of God” (the Holy Scriptures) not just some abitrary man made “Queen” of the Sciences. Which mans’ Christian theology do we use as the Gold Standard?

  43. Steve Drake said,

    May 14, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Thomas @ 43,
    What is your ultimate source of knowledge Thomas? Your question belies the fact that you do choose a construct. Which construct is it?

  44. Thomas Martin said,

    May 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

    IMHO the Creator of the Universe is the only omniscent one and as such His Revelations are my Ultimate Standard of knowledge and truth. I struggle within my sanctification with “fear and trembling” to understand all things created along with the council from the Saints past and present.

  45. Steve Drake said,

    May 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Thomas,
    Is that the Roman Catholic construct then?

  46. Thomas Martin said,

    May 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Steve,

    No not in my case. I don’t think I would apply the word construct to differences in faih or even to world views .

    The reformers held to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (not Solo Scriptura) and I do also see that Second Timothy clearly states what the scriptures are profitable for in life

    I do not believe that that any man or body of men are infallible or any writings of men except the the Holy Scriptures (with the HolySpirit) are inerrant. So I see the WCF& Catechisms, the 5 Councils and the Magesterium & Christ’s Vicar all share a fallible nature.

    I do not see any benefit from Apostolic Succession in the church except for historical purposes. but I also see where the Reformed Churchs would have benefited by having held to at least three/ and possibly four of the seven CC Sacrements. The one other being Marriage as instituted by our Lord’s Father even before the first allusion to the Messiah in Chapter three of Gnesis

    I guess that is a very sketchyview of some of my theology outside the Gospel.

  47. David Palmer said,

    May 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you, Steve,

    We will have to disagree in relation to the age of the earth. At some stage as with heliocentrism you do have to contend with raw facts, which is why Darwinian evolution will not survive as the explanation for the origin of life.

    Personally I’m open to a young earth, it is just not the direction that the evidence points to. Are you open to the earth being old?

    Please don’t tie me to Enns, I know of him, never read him.

    However I do know Calvin.

    I think it is precisely the failure to consider the implications of the issue of accommodation sufficiently or at all that is the achilles heel of 6 day 24 hr creationism. In other words we do not know God and his purposes as he is known to himself but only as he has revealed himself in creation and accommodated himself to us in his word. This is Calvin’s point in Institutes 1.13.1 where he describes Scripture as divine accommodation to human frailty just “as nurses (mothers and fathers today) commonly do with infants, God is wont in a measure to lisp in speaking to us”. I think the language of dividing God’s work of creation into 6 days is essentially both accommodation to people who were its original audience but also arguably it is the establishment of a theology of the Sabbath which drives the placing of God’s creational activity within the structure of the six Days of Genesis 1.

    Before you make further assumptions concerning myself I wish to advise I hold to an inerrantist position including historical Adam and Eve.

  48. Thomas Martin said,

    May 14, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Steve,
    The 4th Sacrament (a latin word not in the scriptures) I would have considered keeping would be ordination but unlike many who are reformed i think the TE only rule for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and some cases the Benediction, runs too close to the CC view of the true church and apostolic succession.

  49. Thomas Martin said,

    May 15, 2013 at 7:48 am

    @Palmer 48,

    I was pleased to see your view of creation. I like the “devout” Jewish Physicists’, explanation of the the integrity of the 6 day creation and the finding of the “old” earth in science being congruent when filtered through the current GPS techology as an application of Einsteins’ special and general relativity with respect to time dilation and the observer depent measurement of time.

  50. Steve Drake said,

    May 15, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Not only do evolutionary old earth adherents couple themselves to the unregenerate’s interpretation of data and the philosophical underpinnings of natural history that rebellion against God produces, they decouple themselves from any coherent and consistent Christian theology. The old earth evolutionary proponent, like Enns, in trying to plow the middle ground, dishonors both.

  51. Thomas Martin said,

    May 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

    @ Steve 51

    In support of the orthodox view of the 6 day/ 24 hour model of creation was a recent discussion amongst a group of Mutiverse String Theory physicists that discovered great variances in the mathematical time calculations in the background radiation images from the big-bang that could lead to the credence of the orthodox view of creation and literal 24 hour day, much to the chagrin of the evolutionary biologists and probably BioLogos. So imho it is prudent for believers to never discount the truth in the Holy Scriptures because it will always define nature and science. It is interesting that Soloman in Ecclesiastes stated that man will face the end-times without a full understanding of creation. We at least understand the Mystery of Jesus defined in Ephesians that still escaped the understanding by even James and Peter for a season as well as all of the O.T. “seed of Abrahamf”.

  52. Bob B said,

    May 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Forgive me for a drawn out question, but I need help in understanding the 6 day creation as it relates to Theology being the queen of the sciences.

    Lets assume that God did create the world (and universe?) in 6 days roughly 10,000 years ago. If that is true, then given the speed of light, wouldn’t we only be able to see stars / galaxies / etc that are only 10,000 light years away from us (assuming that God ‘switched on’ all the stars at the same time – day 1).

    For example, if we see a star that is 100 light years away from us explode, what we ‘know’ is that the star exploded 100 years ago and we are finding out about it now. Therefore, if we see a star that is 100,000 light years away – we ‘know’ that the star existed at least 100,000 years ago – correct?

    OK – just looking at the speed of light and stars, a 6 day creation 10,000 years ago doesn’t add up. Now, I don’t want to limit God and He ‘can’ create a universe 10,000 years old with stars ‘100,000’ light years away that we can see… somehow… but I don’t see 6 day believers explaining that particular issue. Perhaps my understanding of these things is off (please point out the error in my reasoning).

    I guess the heart of my question is this though. Assuming my understanding is OK, how is the current 6 day creationists position any different from the church’s anti-heliocentric position from Galileo’s day? It seems to me that in his day the church was taking a literal reading of certain passages to condemn the heliocentric view. Are we not doing the same thing today?

    Let me frame the question in another way. Let’s assume that the Bible says ‘God created the universe’, then ‘God created Man’ but leaves out the 6 day description. Good Christian Scientists look at the world and try to deduce how / when God created it. Would these scientists come up with 6 day 10,000 year’s ago as their conclusion? Or would they postulate other answers to that question? At the very least, I don’t believe that scientists in this scenario would be guilty of what Steve Drake is accusing in comment 51.

  53. Thomas Martin said,

    May 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    @Bob B 53
    Your question is very astute.

    The fundamental point of using Einsteins’ Special and General Relativity to support a 6 day creation is based on the fact that the measurement of time is based on the location of one observer in comparison to another.
    Let me give you an example:
    Take person #1 and place him inside a train that is 150 feet long with no windows so he thinks the entire world is inside the train. Now take a person #2 place him on top of the train. Now if we start the train moving such that person #1 doesn’t feel it moving and tell him to walk to the other end. Simultaneously we tell the person#2 on walk on top of the train to the other end. We acclerate the treain to 4000 MPH and after 15 minutes the two persons have walked the 150 feet train.
    Now if we ask observer#1 and #2 how far they walked and how long it took.
    Observer #1 would say 150 feet in 15 minutes. while observer #2 woild say 1000 miles plus 150 feet in 15 minutes Both observers are correct based on their unique space-time observations.

    Now how does that correlate to the 6 day creation?

    The train is Earth.
    Observer#1 is God telling you about creation as he performed it from His Location outside of creation
    Observer#2 is man looking back through time and observing creation from the surface of the earth.

    This is the reason we have to make adjustments to clocks on GPS satellites in orbit around the eath today so that they can accurately calculate your location on earth to within 10 to 15 feet or better. When I was involved with initial testing of the GPS system in 1983 with the US Army we had three satellites to triangulate our position but the time differences between space and earth was not included and our GPS coordinates were thousands of miles off. This is practical application of Einsteins theory of Special And General revelation making GPS systems work and confirming that God’s revelation and man’s science can be in sink.

    I don’t know Bob if that helped. Hope it did. Most Physicist could show the math that supports the paradigm and there are lots of online stuff out there some from Creation believing mathematicians and physicists.

    Another interesting discussion comes from my Messianic or Jews for Jesus friends who see the paleo-Hebrew tanslation of “Evening to morning” in Genesis which the paleo hebrew transliteration is ” erev to boker” would be better translated as “chaotic vision to clear vision”. So it demonstrated God created order for each day rather then a definite time of 24 hours.

    Solomon states in Ecclesiates that man will not understand the mystery of creation before the end of time. So you can take the sriptures to the bank.

  54. Thomas Martin said,

    May 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    @ Bob B 51
    correction That was Einsteins’ Special and General RELATIVITY not revelation

  55. Thomas Martin said,

    May 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    @bob B 51
    When the scriptures say a day to man can be a 1000 years to God, believe it.Einstein showed how

    when the book of Joshua says the sun appeared to stand still for 24hours , believe it …There are astronomers today that are unravelling the orbit of Mars when in the past it ‘s orbit came much closer to the earth such that it was larger than the sun in the sky . in fact large enouh that in Jonathan swift’s book written in the 1700’s Gullivers Travels that he described the two moons of Mars that was not discovered until the mid 1800’s when the telescope was refined……Was mars the sun that stood still when it was much coser to the earth, close enough to see its two moons with the naked eye?

  56. Bob B said,

    May 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Thomas, Thank you for your reply – but forgive me if it seems that the goal posts have shifted.

    The 6 day creation people don’t speak of relativity. They are asking us to believe 6 literal earth days from earths position in the universe, not 6 days from God’s perspective that appears to be eons to us.

    Lets look at the Joshua passage. I don’t have a problem with either the sun stopping, or Mars stopping (looking like the sun), or any other theory that people come up with to answer this particular conundrum. However, if I were to approach this as the die-hard 6 day types do then I would say things like ‘It was the sun and to believe otherwise couples you with an unregenerates view of the data and… rebellion against God’.

    It is possible that ‘both’ are correct (depending on your point of view). Maybe it ‘was’ 6 days from God’s perspective, and eons from ours. When looking for information about our world from our perspective and the data looks like eons instead of days – it isn’t exactly helpful to insist on 6 day 10,000 year ago as being truth. When we can see things from God’s perspective, then perhaps 6 day’s makes more sense.

  57. Thomas Martin said,

    May 16, 2013 at 9:13 am

    To get back to the original post,

    The philosophy of Kant is misconstrued. In Kants writing,”The only possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the exsistence of God” , Kant supported the modern Transcendental Argument for God (TAG) which combines a priori knowledge and a posteri knowledge , (theology and other sciences) to fully understand God and His Decrees. Thus Kant was not ruling out Special Revelation but actually embracing it with General Revelation.

  58. William Scott said,

    May 16, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Scripture: Sin before death
    Evolution: Death before sin

  59. Thomas Martin said,

    May 17, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Death is multifaceted. Darwin, despite his supposed understanding of “natural selection”, conveyed to his progeny the same fate that befell the Samaritans when they dismissed the overtures of Jesus on his way back to Jerusalem. Imputation by the last Adam ended the imputation by the first.

  60. May 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Looking at Joshua’s long day when the sun “stood still” might suggest a rather different scenario that the surface meaning in common translations might suggest.
    The content of the first half of Joshua’s book can be set out as follows:

    Conquest of Canaan

    1st phase – entering Canaan (chs 1-8)

    1. Rahab spared 2:1-24

    2. Jordon ‘stopped’ [Hebrew: ‘amad] 3-5

    3. Jericho captured and burned 6:1-27

    4. Achan put to death 7:1-8:29

    2nd phase – conquering Canaan Chs 9-12

    1. Gibeonites spared 9:3-27

    2. Sun ‘stopped’ [Hebrew: ‘amad] 10

    3. Hazor captured and burned 11:1-15

    4. Canaanites put to death 11:16-23

    Among the important points suggested is that related the stopping of the Jordon and the stopping of the sun. On the way to Canaan the barrier of the Jordan river faces the Israelites. God removes this barrier by causing a blockage upstream so that the river is ‘stopped’ and the people can cross safely. From one viewpoint it’s a ‘natural’ event, but Biblically there is no such thing as a purely natural event for all is under the control and direction of the LORD. The incident recalls the earlier deliverance under Moses at the Red Sea, and the timing points to the hand of the LORD. It is he who gives them the land, not their swords or bows (Ps. 44:3).

    Later Joshua is called on to save the Gibeonites from the Amorites. Joshua’s men must have been tired after their forced march the 30kms from Gilgal the night before, but they put the Amorites to flight. God sent a great hailstorm on the Amorites which killed many of them, and Israel gained a complete victory. This followed on Joshua’s cry to the LORD at midday (10:13) for the sun and moon to ‘stop’ (in context does this mean ‘to cease to shine’?).

    It looks as though God answered Joshua by sending peculiar weather which included the severe hail and perhaps reflected the light of the sun and moon in a strange way, so that it gave respite from the heat to Joshua’s weary soldiers, yet light for them to continue their pursuit, while the Amorite army were struck by the storm which reduced it to a remnant easily finished off. Whatever the precise explanation it is clear that the LORD fights for his people.

    FWIW

    From the land where the sun shines a great deal – Australia

  61. Dr DeRidder said,

    August 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Aristotle was credited as coining the phrase “Queen of the Sciences” in desribing metaphysics. Metaphysics prior to Cartesian thought was a combination philosophy and theology.


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