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“No Need for Christians to Fear Science” Agreed!

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This was the title (minus the word “agreed”) of an article by Dr. Dean Nelson, director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) in California. Being a former professor at a Nazarene university, having grown up in the Nazarene church, and knowing the connection of Nazarene professors with the Biologos organization, I read the article with interest.

After beginning the article with two recent experiences in which he felt Christians were fearing science, Dr. Nelson shared some of his background:

I was raised in a conservative Christian environment. I went to a conservative Christian university in the Midwest [MidAmerica Nazarene University]. Never once did I hear anyone say they believed in a six-day, 24-hour creation, or an Earth that was 6,000 years old. They were enlightened enough to look at the evidence. My science professors didn’t exactly teach evolution, but it was pretty clear that they felt that God used evolution as the means of creating everything.
While I was surprised to hear him say he had never heard of anyone that believed in a literal 6/24 creation (I was taught this growing up in a Nazarene church in the Midwest), I wasn’t surprised that he was more or less taught evolution and millions of years at the college level. As our book Already Compromised showed, compromise on the authority of Scripture, especially as it concerns Genesis, is rampant in Christian colleges. Having been a Nazarene professor, I can attest that many in Nazarene colleges today teach the ideas of evolution and millions of years as truth.

The remainder of the article is filled with the stereotypical canard that conservative Christians (referring mainly to biblical creationists) fear science and instead need to embrace science.

Evangelicalism – even very conservative evangelicalism – need not regard science as an enemy.

Still, there are plenty of others who believe that science contradicts their understanding of the Bible.

Regarding the politicians specifically, I don’t really think they are afraid of science. Before they were presidential hopefuls, many were pro-science – especially Gingrich. They seem afraid of science now, it appears, because they want the favor of a constituency of evangelical Christians that is afraid of science, and the politicians are just cynical enough to put their own intellects on hold to attract votes from the extreme Christian right.

There are well-known historical accounts of the Christian Church denying scientific reality.

I am thankful that there are some Christian groups that seem to embrace science, and are committed to improving the environment, whether it’s through slowing down man-made climate change, cleaning up pollution or living in a manner that is sustainable to future generations.

As I write this blog, hanging on the wall in front of me are two diplomas—one from Cedarville University where I received a BA with a major in biology/pre-med, and the other from the Ohio State University where I received a PhD in the field of molecular genetics. In my filing cabinet are reprints of articles I have published in mainstream science journals. I clearly don’t fear science and am not anti-science.  I would classify myself as one of those science geeks!

Dr. Nelson fails to distinguish between the two different types of science and actually uses them interchangeably in his article. Historical or origins science involves the science of the past. Molecules-to-man evolution and creation by God’s spoken command are not testable in a lab or repeatable. Observational or operational science involves the science of the present. It gives us vaccines, computers, and airplanes and is testable in a lab and repeatable. Observational science that is involved with “improving the environment” and “cleaning up pollution” is very different from historical science that determines the age of the earth or how animals have changed over time.

I have never found “science” that contradicts the Bible, as Dr. Nelson states, and I never will. Historical science is highly dependent on the scientists’ presuppositions. Starting with man’s ideas about the past (who was not there to observe it) leads to many contradictions when studying the evidence in the present, such as the finding of soft tissue in dinosaur bones that are supposedly millions of years old.

Starting with the Word of God as the ultimate authority and source of truth (God was an eyewitness and inspired men to write the account of creation), the evidence I observe in the present does and will confirm the biological, geological, astronomical, etc. principles that are given in Scripture. I agree that Christians do not need to fear science, whether it is observational or historical. Instead we should embrace the amazing world that God has created and the minds He has given us to study and understand it.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

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