Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Separation of Religion and Science

There was an interesting blog post on the USAToday web site yesterday.

"'There is always the mystery': Why faith and science will remain worlds apart," by Philip Meyer

Mr. Meyer's goal is a noble one. He is trying to find a way for science and religion to peacefully co-exist. He wants to keep the realms separate and allow for "mystery." But his reasoning raises some concerns for me, largely because I'm not sure his perspective is entirely compatible with the historic Christian worldview.

Here is one quote in particular that caught my eye:
Imagine a creationist who cites Genesis to prove that the Earth is 6,000 years old and a geologist who finds rocks that, by radiometric dating, are 3.8 billion years old. The creationist should have no problem telling the geologist that when God created the world, he made the rocks that old.

The difficulty with this idea is that the Bible itself claims to be reporting real history. If the Bible clearly teaches rocks are 6,000 years old while geologists tell us otherwise, then this is a huge problem. It makes the Bible seem like it doesn't dwell in the real world, which it clearly purports to do. And for Christians to just make a [lazy] appeal to an appearance of age argument can short-circuit further investigation of God's world.

That leads me to the second quote:
Intelligent design, an attempt to make creationism seem scientific, can work as religion, but it fails as science because it can't be falsified or lead to new questions.

Apparently, we can't say it enough: ID is NOT "creationism." Perhaps Mr. Meyer hasn't read the statement about this on the Discovery Institute web site. Intelligent Design is a secular idea. It has nothing to do with creationism - young-earth or otherwise. It doesn't try to defend Genesis. I know this point can be confusing because so many of the participants of the ID movement are Christians, but we need to at least try to represent their position fairly.

Secondly, creationism can most certainly be falsified. The Bible makes all kinds of historical claims that can be examined. It names people and places on practically every page. If you want to read about the efforts of the scholars at Reasons To Believe to actually put forth a scientifically testable creation model, check out their books listed in the right hand column.

This brings me back to the point I made earlier that the Bible dwells in the real world. Why does this matter? Because our very salvation and eternal security rest on it. Paul says unequivocally in 1 Cor. 15 that if Jesus never rose from the dead (a historical claim), then we are still in our sins (a theological claim). So if the history isn't true, then neither is the theology.

But this isn't just an isolated case. The apostle Peter connects our hope that we will spend eternity in heaven with the events in the early chapters of Genesis. See 2 Peter 3. Basically, Peter is saying that if the events in Genesis (specifically Noah's flood) never happened, then believing in heaven is fantasy. You can read more about that idea here: "The History of the Universe in a Nutshell: Reflections on 2 Peter 3."

After nearly a decade of studying and thinking through this issue, I cannot accept the idea that science and religion are best kept separate from each other. Trying to integrate them is definitely the tougher row to hoe but, in my opinion, it's the biblical way to go.

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