Science in the Balance

by Don Landis on July 1, 2010; last featured December 7, 2011
Featured in Answers Magazine
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When scientists let popular evolutionary claims trump the clear teaching of Scripture, most creationists are quick to recognize this as a sell-out. But could we be guilty of a similar error if we rely on the latest theories of creationists to help us interpret Scripture?

Even those of us who hold a solid view of the Bible may be undermining its authority!

Let’s look at a very subtle and effective way that our Enemy sometimes undermines trust in the Scriptures.

One day I was discussing a view about Noah’s Flood with a highly respected scientist who is a Christian. As I related my understanding of what happened, his response shocked me. He said that scientists (meaning Christian scientists that he knew) were not sure yet what happened—the jury was still out!

Amazed, I looked at him and said, “What does the Scripture say?”

I was surprised because the meaning of the text was very plain and would not be questioned by Hebrew scholars. He would not take a position because it may not fit with scientific models that he was familiar with. Essentially, he was giving science priority over the text of the Bible!

The text of Scripture trumps any theory of science, and science is not a priority tool of biblical interpretation.

I know that the secular world does this all the time, but I have seen Christian scientists with a solid view of the Bible do the same thing. I am sure they do not mean to, and I am sure they believe that the Bible always trumps the opinions of scientists. And yet, in practice—perhaps out of habit or as an occupational hazard—they first think in terms of scientific theory rather than what God has said.

If the Bible says in clear text that something happened, then it did. And while that act of God may not be something we can comprehend or fit under some known scientific law, that does not in any way diminish the fact of it.

Let me state this danger of undermining Scripture another way. When contemplating some miracle in the Bible, too often our first reaction is to say, “I wonder what principle God used to do this.”

There are times God used some natural law as a tool. In fact, we can define “natural law” as the normal, consistent way that God accomplishes His will. But God is not limited to natural laws; He sometimes acts in an unusual way to accomplish an extraordinary result. He is transcendent and so can do whatever He wishes, including performing miracles.

When studying the supernatural in the Bible, we see three possibilities:

  1. Perhaps God used a known law, principle, or material to accomplish an unusual result. For example, God used wind to drive back the water of the Red Sea.
  2. Perhaps God used a law that has not yet been discovered or is simply beyond human understanding.
  3. Perhaps what happened cannot be described by any natural law because God chose to act in an unusual and non-repeatable way.

We must allow that sometimes God does what He wishes in an unusual way, inaccessible to the methods of science. He simply wants it and speaks.

During creation week, God worked beyond the laws of nature. That is, God’s way of creating the universe was not necessarily the same as the way He upholds it today (Genesis 2:2). God spoke, and the world came into being. No natural laws, no universal timeless scientific principles, no laboratory mixing—simply and purely the will of God expressed through His voice (Genesis 1).

So now apply this as we endeavor to understand the workings of God. Many times we might speculate, “How did God do it?” But to assume that God always works through natural laws just because He usually does would be a leap in logic. In always looking for some natural, scientific understanding to explain what the Bible says God did, we void the possibility of supernatural activity. God is the God of both the natural and the supernatural.

Recognizing the real possibility of option three above, we have an absolute reason always to accept the Bible at face value when God says what happened. God’s Word has priority. The Bible stands with supreme authority.

If the Bible says something happened, we are to believe it, up front, right away, without hesitation. We are to teach what the Bible says and let scientific research and discovery catch up to the truth of Scripture. Science is not a priority tool of biblical interpretation.

I thank the Lord for scientists who are Christians. They are a blessing, and their discoveries continue to confirm and excite us about the text of the Bible. But they do not stand between the text and us.

When we decide to wait until a Christian scientist verifies some event before we interpret Scripture, we are undermining the authority of Scripture. In fact, the temptation to reinterpret the plain meaning of the text may often spring from the view that every event in Scripture can be explained scientifically.

Science is a powerful, God-given tool, but only the Bible is true in every aspect; the text trumps any theory of science. Its truth does not wait for verification from us.

Discussion Questions

  1. Read Romans 3:3–4, John 17:17, and Proverbs 3:5–6. Bearing in mind that these passages are from very different contexts, do they teach a common principle that applies to conflicts between science and the Bible? What should we do if the Bible makes a claim that seems to be irreconcilable with what we know about the universe?
  2. What does 1 Corinthians 2:1–5 tell us about the relationship between scientific reasoning and God’s Word? What does verse 5 indicate about the danger of putting too much weight on what appear to be logical arguments and scientific reasoning?
  3. Does Paul’s approach to the Corinthians (in the previous question) mean that the Christian has no use for logic and scientific reasoning? How does Paul’s approach in Acts 17:16–32 help answer this question?
  4. 2 Peter 1:3–4 states that the Bible is sufficient for salvation. What does verse 5 tell us? Is all knowledge contained in the Bible? How does Proverbs 1:7 relate to this question? What is the value of knowledge that is not to be found somewhere between Genesis and Revelation?
  5. If the Bible trumps science, what is the point of scientific study? Is there more to studying science than simply getting the tools to reach the culture we live in? How do Romans 1:20–23, Psalm 19, and Genesis 8:22 inform us about the purposes of scientific study?
  6. Read Genesis 1:28. How does this command apply to the study of science?
  7. Has this study changed the way you will look at scientific analyses of scriptural events? If so, how?

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Biblical Authority Discussion Questions: Science in the Balance

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