This thought spun out of my reading of Vern Poythress’s book “Redeeming Science.” I have to confess that while I’m struggling throught systematic theology in the first half of the book, the bits and pieces of the scientifc half are quite intriguing and approached with a humility that I find refreshing. For a Christian theologian to admit that certain arguments for an old universe are extremely weak at best and unfounded speculations at worst impresses me. Sure, some Creation Scientists would disagree with his accusation, but Poythress has love of God and a love of science that I find encouraging. What strikes me as I read this book is that he isn’t afraid of science.
We got in a book at work today that criticized the concept of transitional species in Darwinian Evolution. The basic idea is that all life shares a common ancestor, but with the passage of time species evolved into other species. The book ridicules the idea by showing photo-shopped images of a half squirrel half crocodile. There is also a chicken dolphin. While the images are amusing, they strike me as oversimplified and dishonest if not outright insulting. Transitional species wouldn’t be anywhere near this obvious. The images are for the purpose ridicule.
So why ridicule an idea or worldview? Creation scientists (in theory) appeal to the same scientific method of discovery and exploration as mainstream scientists. The primary difference is while naturalists reject God as an explanation from the beginning, Creation scientists are not so exclusive. But both sides say they rely on the evidence and where it leads. Poythress says that any apparent contradictions between science and the Bible indicate that either our scientific theories are wrong or our interpretation of the Bible needs re-evaluation. If we (Christians) believe that the Bible is God’s revelation to mankind and that nature is God’s revelation as well (and there is ample Biblical support for this view) and that science is a study based in observation of the natural world, then we shouldn’t be afraid of contradictions. Science is always open to revision, but we often put up rigid walls around our Biblical interpretations. Doctrine is important, to be sure, but reconciling the differences can be rewarding and mind-expanding. The Pharisees of The New Testament had rigid interpretations, but they missed The Messiah when he walked among them and talked to them.
I don’t intend this to be an argument for evolution or old universe/old earth. My main question is this: When we fear science, when our worldview demands the suppression of other worldviews, are we evangelizing or are we overcompensating for our own fear that our faith is unfounded? So often it seems to me that arguments in apologetics are more for trying to prove other opinions wrong than they are about evangelizing. What reason do we have to prove others wrong? Is that to promote Christ or is it to promote ourselves and our beliefs, to justify ourselves to the world?
These things have their place, but they are part of the box of tools we have at our disposal. When they become the primary and only source of witness, then I think something is very lacking in our evangelism. Perhaps we lack faith in God and love. Sometimes I think we need to just shut up and listen to other people, to their fears and desires, their hopes and dreams. How can we help others see how Christ can bring peace and joy to a person if that person never knows how Christ addresses those issues?
Don’t fear ideas. Put your trust in God, that he will reconcile all things in the end. It is amazing when he does.