Christianity as a Foundation for Science. Dr. Loren Haarsma Calvin College Christian Educators Association International Conference, July 25, 2003 http://www.calvin.edu/~lhaarsma/ChrsFoundationScieCEAIConf2003.pdf http://www.calvin.edu/~lhaarsma/ChrsFoundationScieCEAIConf2003.ppt.
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Dr. Loren Haarsma
Christian Educators Association International Conference, July 25, 2003
Image Credit: NASA, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Many students have uncritically absorbed some of these claims
One approach for dealing with the conflicting claims:Understand how one’s worldview(and, in particular, how the Christian worldview) can serve as a foundation for doing science and why science works.
For this talk, set aside the problem of scientifically and theologically flawed attempts to “prove” Christianity using results of science.
Leave that for another talk, another conference….
P.W. Atkins, “The Limitless Power of Science” from Nature’s Imagination, ed. J. Cornwell, 1995, Oxford University Press
“Science and religion cannot be reconciled, and humanity should begin to appreciate the power of [science] and to beat off all attempts at compromise. Religion has failed, and its failures should be exposed. Science, with its currently successful pursuit of universal competence … should be acknowledged the king.”
requires or implies
a religion a scientific fact
Possible responses to the flawed conclusion:
Belgic Confession Article 2:
The Means by Which We Know God
We know him by two means:
First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: his eternal power and his divinity…
Second, he makes himself known to us more openly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for his glory and for the salvation of his own.
TheologyThe “Two Books” metaphor: Nature & Scripture
A tool for resolving apparent conflicts between science & theology
Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History v.106, March, 1997
“No such conflict [between science and religion] should exist because each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority…. The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value.”
Nancey Murphy, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faithv.45, no. 1, p.33-34
“There is what we might call methodological atheism, which is by definition common to all natural science. This is simply the principle that scientific explanations are to be in terms of natural (not supernatural) entities and processes.”
Philosophical Naturalism: A worldview which claims that supernatural entities do not exist.
Methodological Naturalism (or “methodological atheism”): A tool for conducting limited investigations and limited truths, which restricts itself to seeking explanations only in terms of natural (not supernatural) processes.
Some scholars propose that science, by definition, is Methodologically Naturalistic
Scientific scholarship, more broadly, includes:
One’s worldview strongly affects one’s approach to the latter three categories.
(Psalm 104:19-21, NIV)
The moon marks off the seasons
and the sun knows when to go down.
You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
The sun rises and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
Note: the same events are described in terms of natural events and divine action.
2) The term falsely implies God’s absence from “ordinary” events.
The Biblical perspective is that God is just as much in charge of events which happen “naturally” as miracles.
God is not absent from events which we can explain scientifically; rather, natural laws describe how God typically governs creation.
3) The term falsely implies that science must necessarily deny the possibility of miracles
The most that science can do is determine whether an event is scientifically “explainable” or “puzzling.”
Theologically: A scientifically “puzzling” event is not necessarily evidence of a miracle, just as a scientifically “explainable” event is not evidence of God’s absence.
4) The term falsely implies that science is more compatible with the worldview of Philo-sophical Naturalism than other worldviews.
Linear view of time
Causes and effects have regular, universal patterns.
We can understand these patterns.
Experiments are needed.
Science is worth doing.
Creation is not pantheistic.
Time is linear, not circular.
God governs in ways consistent, not capricious.
We are made in God’s image, suitable for this world.
God’s creativity is free; we are limited and fallen.
Nature is God’s creation; we are called to study it.Worldview assumptionsChristian necessary for sciencebeliefs