TCQ Week 1: Introduction: Should Christians Care About Science?

Jun 6, 2024 | Creation, Manuscripts/Outlines

Creation. Science. God’s world. Many people have weaponized God’s world in an attempt to show that, in fact, God’s word is not true. Atheists claim that evolution is “settled science” and that inserting God into the “gaps” of our knowledge is pretentious.

If we don’t know something, they say, we should just admit we don’t know. The history of science is full of asking new questions, finding new answers, and coming to new conclusions. This happened with lightning and supposedly evolution, so why shouldn’t we think the rest of our big questions won’t get answered, too?

  • What is the origin of life?
  • How did consciousness arise from non-conscious materials?
  • What caused the Big Bang?

Mainstream scientists readily admit we have no answers for those questions, but is that truly a cause for concern? Science has “proven the Bible wrong” so many times before, why think it won’t continue?

In this series, we’re going to dig into all of those questions and more. We’ll explore why science can’t even answer some of these questions at all. We’ll see whether we’re just shoving God into the gaps of our knowledge, or whether we’ve come to a reasonable conclusion about God being the creator.

A Few Disclaimers

Before moving too much further, there are a few things I should point out about myself and about the approach we’re taking in this series. I want to be as honest and up front as possible so you know what to expect over the coming weeks.

I am not a scientist.

By no means do I claim to be a scientist or have any scientific credentials. However, everything we discuss (though some of it will venture outside the narratives given to us by mainstream science) will be based on the work of legitimate, credentialed scientists in their respective fields.

I am friends with many of them, so if something comes up within our exploration that needs more clarification from a subject matter expert, I can and will get that information for you.

I’m a (nice) Young Earth Creationist, but that’s not specifically our focus.

You should know that I am a Young Earth/Age Creationist. That means I believe the Bible teaches the earth and universe are on the order of 6-7,000 years old, not the millions/billions of years held by virtually all mainstream scientists today.

This controversy is NOT the subject matter of this class. Just know that I will be coming from that perspective when we’re looking at the science. Sometimes, that will matter, most of the time, it will not.

If this is something you’re interested in, we’re going to be taking the hardest look at the age of creation on Week 4: Scripture as an Ancient Text. We’ll be discussing how “literally” we should take the Bible, whether or not it can even speak to the age of the earth, and why/how I (spoiler alert) think it does.

I don’t plan to take a negative approach, but rather a positive one.

This is not an “anti-evolution” class. I’ve titled the class with the question, “Does science prove the Bible wrong?” The short answer is: NO! Of course not.

The longer answer is what we’re going to arrive at during this class. The point, tho, will not be to “refute” what mainstream scientists believe. Why spend our time on things that don’t matter? Instead, we’ll take a positive approach and show how only by beginning with God’s Word can we make sense of God’s world.

We should treat this series (and indeed, science itself!) like an adventure.

I’m concerned that many people treat science in a way that most scientists don’t. Christians (and many hardened atheists) especially tend to treat science like it’s this binary calculus: It either proves God, or it doesn’t. But that’s not true.

Ironically, science is much more art than science! Especially historical science which often involves an investigation into the past, like so much of what we’ll be discussing here.

This is a journey. An adventure. To see how cool God’s world truly is, and how it confirms God’s Word in so many cool ways.

Please ask questions.

I need your help! As we go, please stop me and feel free to ask questions that are relevant to the subject matter in discussion. I’m happy to note down further questions that may take us on a tangent, but will do my best to keep the current conversation on track and tackle additional questions later.

It might start a little slow. Please hang in there.

Particularly this week and next may feel a little bit slower. By week three, we’re really going to be moving. But please, please, please stay with me. This week and next are some of the most important subject matter we’re going to discuss, because without them, none of the rest make sense or even matters.

Working through these topics will lay the foundation for everything coming up. We need to discuss why and whether science even matters at all. Does the Bible have anything to say about the pursuit of the natural world?

I think it does, in some potentially surprising ways.

The Dominion Mandate

Genesis 1:27–28 (KJV 1900) says,

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Bible nerds refer to this as “The Dominion Mandate” (DM). This is God’s Prime Directive for humanity. Our job is to be fruitful and have dominion over the earth. Work is not a bad thing! We were tasked with caring for the beautiful creation that God made and called “very good.” But something bad happened. The world went awry.

In Genesis 6-8, the Great Flood was sent to destroy all life and flesh that moved upon the earth. But the flood was not primarily an end; it was a beginning. We know this because immediately after the flood waters began to dry up and Noah was welcomed back on to dry ground, God reaffirmed his commitment to humanity’s purpose:

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. ( Genesis 9:1–2 (KJV 1900))

Scholars are divided as to the nature of the DM. Some use this to claim that the original world was not “perfect”—there was death, suffering, and disease as part of the created order. To be clear, neither do I think it was “perfect” because the Bible does not use a word that means “perfect.” It uses the biblical construction tov meod, meaning “very good.” A very good world is the kind of world that does what God intended for it to do.

By assessing the character of God, we can arrive at a reasonable conclusion of what that original world was like. While I don’t think it was perfect, then, I believe it was the kind of a world a good and loving creator would have made. So, why do some take the DM to mean that the creation was hostile and needed to be “subdued”?

It comes down to the meaning of the word dominion, Hebrew radah. The word means “to lead, to rule” and is often used in very militaristic contexts within Scripture. However, one simple verse serves to refute the notion that this word is always militaristic:

43 Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God. (Leviticus 25:43 (KJV 1900))

The context is that of Israelite slave labor post-Exodus, but my point here is simply to understand permissible meanings of the word radah—the word “rule” in this verse. The verse teaches that one can have a peaceful rule. It is not about death and physical submission.

One further example is 1 Kings 4:24-25. It describes the peaceful rule/dominion (radah) of Solomon:

24 For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him. 25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon.

Therefore, I believe the best way to make sense of the “dominion” concept is by saying to “care for it.” Literally, God has placed the care of this physical world in the hands of humanity. It is our responsibility to care for creation. To be responsible with it. And, like everything else that is a gift from God, to be a good steward of it.

As I wrote elsewhere:

In order to properly carry out the dominion mandate, we must be able to care for the creation. And in order to care for it, we must know about it, and in order to know about it, we must study it. And the study of the natural world—that’s what we call science. (The Winsome Creationist)

So, should Christians care about science at all? Absolutely! Science is a wonderful tool, developed by humanity, that allows us to explore God’s world and carry out the DM. Although some weaponize it, the study of science proper is not something Christians ought to shy away from or be scared about.

The scientific method was developed by theists, many of them Christian. The father of the modern scientific method, Sir Francis Bacon, was a Christian. He was a member of the Church of England and held Christian beliefs, which influenced his work and thinking. Bacon saw no conflict between religion and science; in fact, he believed that scientific inquiry was a way to understand God’s creation more deeply. His integration of faith and reason is evident in his writings, where he often spoke about the harmony between the natural world and divine creation.

The so-called modern “conflict thesis” is a now-bunk attempt at showing that science and religion—specifically Christianity—are not compatible. But this is a mistake, one that will become all the more clear as we continue our investigation.

So now we know that science is important. But wait a minute, some seem to take this stuff really far. Can science become too important to us? What if it becomes a distraction that takes away from the main message of Christianity, the love and sacrifice of Jesus for our sin?

Is Science a Distraction?

I’m a fan of attractions like the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. I’m a fan and member of Christian scientific organizations, I host and participate in podcasts about the topic, and I think books about science and the Bible are important.

But can these things be a distraction that keeps us from sharing Christ with others?

Of course they can! Anything can be come a distraction. The question is not whether they can, but rather how normal people in the pew can use the information learned in classes like these to accomplish the Great Commission—our responsibility to share Christ with the world.

Yes, you can actually use everything we learn during this class in your evangelism efforts! That doesn’t mean you jump straight to discussing science—science doesn’t have an answer for everything. I don’t think it has an answer for most things!

But you may be surprised to find how useful even a cursory knowledge of science is, such that it could bolster your efforts when sharing Christ with others. Here are some ways that has played out in my own life and in the life of others I’ve experienced.

Confidence in my own faith

As I mentioned—I am not a scientist. There is much I don’t know. However, the little I do know gives me a great deal of confidence when discussing these things with people who do know a lot of science.

I can tell fact from fiction fairly quickly by asking a few questions and drawing on the knowledge database I have because I care to learn about God’s world. I will give you a very obvious example.

It’s literally impossible to learn about dinosaurs without hearing about the age of creation. Every single book and TV show that comes our way that has anything at all to do with dinosaurs expressly mentions them living about 65 million years ago and beyond. I also know that dinosaurs are (definitionally) land animals, which means if the Bible is true, they were created on Day 6 of creation—with man.

What should I do with that information?

Well, if you know and understand just a few basic facts, it makes sense:

  1. The word dinosaur was not invented until the late 1800s
  2. The ancient world (and biblical writers) used dragon imagery quite a bit
  3. The dating methods used to derive deep historical ages have problems
  4. Fossilization usually happens very rapidly
  5. We have many dinos buried in what appear to be floodwater sediments
  6. Dino soft tissue (which cannot last for millions of years) has been discovered

Of course there are many layers to the above, but that’s the basics. And at the very least, it shows there is more to the story. Perhaps the story is not settled on dinosaurs yet. And perhaps the reason why you HAVE to see/hear about “millions of years” if dinosaurs are mentioned has more to do with indoctrination than science.

Now—could the mainstream scientists be right about dinosaurs? Yes and no. If my understanding of the Bible is correct, no. If my understanding of the Bible is incorrect, yes. There are very, very many good, believing brothers and sisters who think the earth is old. They understand Scripture differently on some points, and I think they’re wrong, but we’ll find out for sure one day.

Until then, I must do as the Apostle Paul suggested and be convinced in my own mind (Romans 14:5).

Objection-handling when sharing the gospel

Many people believe that science has completely upended the Bible. That is the entire context for our class. We’re going to see that it has not done so. But how might this truth be helpful to know in an encounter where you’re sharing the gospel?

It can be helpful both in the general and in the specific.

In general, for example, it would be helpful to know a little bit of logic.

When someone says, “Science proves that God doesn’t exist,” how could you respond? (ASK)

I would respond by asking a question: “Wait a minute. How do you define science?”

Then let them respond. They may not even have a definition. If they do, it should result in something like, “The study of the natural world.”

To which you’d respond, “Okay perfect. Then let me ask you another question: How does the study of the natural world disprove the existence of a supernatural God?”

They will not have an answer for this, because there is no answer. What you’ve exposed is a problem in their thinking. They have committed something called a “category error.” They’ve tried to use science (the study of a natural/physical thing) to disprove God (a supernatural/nonphysical thing).

If they are more sophisticated, they may try to show how science disproves specific claims of the natural world that the Bible makes. And there are many routes you could take on that. My personal opinion is to remove any and all obstacles to get them to Jesus, and let him correct their bad thinking.

I might even say something like this: “Ok, suppose I gave you that the Bible could contain errors. There are some theologians who think it does! That doesn’t logically entail that God doesn’t exist or that Jesus Christ is not the Savior, by any means. It still doesn’t solve your problem.”

(Again, not everyone would take that path, and that’s just an example.)

In the specifics, it would be very helpful if you knew how to respond to specific scientific objections.

Someone might say, “Science has proven evolution. So we know creation didn’t happen like the Bible says.” If that objection were raised, I would probably respond like this:

“Well, what do you mean by evolution?”

They might say, “Well, the fact that all life can be traced back to a single last common ancestor.” (I’m actually giving them a little credit for such a precise definition; theirs probably won’t be that clean.)

To which I might respond, “Interesting. Actually, we do know that organisms change over time. That kind of evolution is indeed incontrovertible. However, countless studies have been done demonstrating that Darwinian mechanisms cannot produce change beyond the classification level of Family (and in some rarer cases, Order). Have you ever engaged with some of those studies?”

Notice—I always end with a question. The point is not for me to convince them of anything. I’m not a scientist, remember? I may not even be able to argue the specifics of the studies I mentioned (though it’d be great if I COULD as a bonus). Chances are, they will respond to that last statement without having a clue what I’m talking about.

If that happens, I might say, “Yeah, a great book about that is Darwin Devolves by Michael Behe. It will answer many of your questions, and there has been a lot of interaction among scientists online about that book you might find fascinating. But let’s get back to the real issue…” And then you get the conversation about Christ back on track.

You just need to know enough to handle objections and get back to the main thing as quickly as possible. Patiently guide them in the discussion and let them come to their own conclusions, prompted by the questions you ask.

Context for difficult discussions

Learning more about science—God’s world—is important for another reason you might not have considered: There is no more pressing issue today than God’s design for the human family.

It is almost impossible to have a discussion about homosexuality, transgenderism, or the traditional family structure without being labeled as a hateful, mean-spirited bigot. But I’ve found that using creation as a way to set the context for my beliefs is helpful.

If someone is calling you names and putting you down for your views, you might just ask this question:

“I understand why you feel so strongly about this. But let me ask you a question. Suppose there really is a Creator God. The God of the Bible. Suppose for a moment he is real and his Word is true, and there’s true danger in deciding to live in a way that is against what he has commanded. Don’t you think it makes sense for me to warn you about that danger?”

Now I have no clue how they will respond to that specific point. But the idea is, you want to point them back to creation. Show them that the problem is not because you’re “afraid” of them or you’re simply not progressive enough. Take them all the way back to the beginning, show that God designed creation to work a specific way.

You could even cite modern studies (of which there are plenty) showing how the traditional family landscape is best for children. You could explain the current population decline (which is very dangerous) and show how the solution to that is the traditional family as God’s Word lays it out.

The point here is, blame God. You heard me right. After all, you don’t believe this stuff “just because”! You believe it first because God’s Word says it and only second because modern science actually bears it out. Take them back to the beginning to show them that God’s design is good and that you don’t hate them, you simply want them to live within the beauty of God’s good design so they can live a truly fulfilled life.

Displaying the beauty and provision of God

In the last few months, we had an incredible opportunity to see a total solar eclipse. The eclipse is a breathtaking feature of God’s creation. Indeed, I saw many Facebook posts of folks sharing their eclipse videos and pictures and showing how it displays beauty in God’s creation.

But if you know just a little science, it gets even better. In my view, the only thing more beautiful than an eclipse is the science behind how it happens.

That we’re aware of, there is no other system in the entire universe like our Sun/Moon/Earth system. That alone is significant.

Now, couple that with the fact that there is such precise design in this system that the Sun is 400x larger than the moon, but it’s also 400x further away from us than the moon.

  • The diameter of the Sun is about 1.39 million kilometers.
  • The diameter of the Moon is about 3,474 kilometers.
  • The average distance from the Earth to the Sun is about 149.6 million kilometers.
  • The average distance from the Earth to the Moon is about 384,400 kilometers.

The ratio of the Sun’s diameter to the Moon’s diameter is roughly 400:1, and the ratio of their distances from Earth is also roughly 400:1.

In engineering there is a concept known as “overdesign.” A toaster that toasts is necessary. A toaster with a digital countdown timer and heads up display showing the temperature of the bread is overdesigned. The Sun/Moon system is necessary for life on earth. Their ability to produce a beautiful total eclipse is purposeful overdesign—an unmistakable mark of the Creator.

This is Psalm 19:1 in action—God showing off.

Explaining how science is a Christian endeavor

Just as I am not a scientist, neither am I a historian. But knowing just a little bit of the history of science can be very useful when having spiritual conversations.

Here are just a few facts about science and its history that would be useful to know:

  • Science doesn’t prove things right; it can only prove them wrong.
  • Those who invented the scientific method were theists, mostly Christians.
  • The practice of science began with theists who saw natural order in the world.
  • Historians know that only the mixture of Greek Philosophy and the Hebrew’s concept of a transcendent (set apart) Creator could result in an ordered world.
  • “Conflict thesis”—the notion that science and religion are necessarily in conflict—has been thoroughly debunked.
  • Science doesn’t “say” things. Scientists do, and scientists all have worldviews, biases, and philosophical pre-commitments.

This set of facts alone is enough to show that science is not something we need to be scared of as Christians. And anyone who claims science proves the Bible wrong does not have a grasp of how science even came about.

So, a person says, “Science proves the Bible wrong, so I would never be a Christian. That’s silly fairy-tale stuff.”

You might respond with: “Well, that’s interesting, since some of the most instrumental scientists like Francis Bacon, Louis Pasteur, and Isaac Newton were all Christians. They all seemed to think science helped them learn more about God. What specifically makes you think science has somehow replaced God or proved the Bible wrong?”

And them let them go into specifics. And maybe they don’t have an answer, which is fine, and you get the conversation back on track.

The goal is to put a stone in their shoe. Make them think a little bit. Annoy them in a good way.

The Pursuit of God’s World

I love going to nature museums. But as a Christian—and specifically as a young age creationist—there’s always two sides to those experiences. Of course it is an opportunity to wonder at God’s creation. But sadly, it’s also a chance to see the depravity of man.

As a culture we are so intent on seeing science give us all the answers. This view, known as scientism, really took hold in the immediate years following 9/11 and the rise of the so-called New Atheists. Those associated with this movement like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens argued extensively that science has all of the answers. Religion is not only unneeded, it is dangerous.

There are two things I believe we must do to respond to this mindset: Understand the arguments against scientism, and engage in science ourselves as Christians.

The Arguments Against Scientism

To give a more precise definition, scientism is the view that only the hard sciences have something to say about the big questions of life. If it can’t be decisively decided by science—whatever it is—we shouldn’t think of it as absolute truth, but as an open question.

This mindset is incredibly narrow and has problems, a few of which we’ll discuss below. We’ll go more into detail on this next week when we discuss what science is.

Science has limits

We need to understand that science is actually extremely limited. If you want to get technical, science is actually based on a fallacy in deductive logic known as “affirming the consequent.”

Consider this logic:

  1. If Darwinian Evolution is true, there will be bones in the ground demonstrating a clear evolutionary progression from one organism to another.
  2. There are bones in the ground demonstrating a clear evolutionary progression from one organism to another.
  3. Therefore, Darwinian Evolution is true.

You might think this makes sense. But let me put it another way:

  1. If it rained last night, it must be wet outside.
  2. It is wet outside.
  3. Therefore, it must have rained last night.

See the problem now? The argument “affirms the consequent,” which basically means that premise 2 of the argument “it is wet outside” assumes the truth of premise 1, if it’s wet, it must have rained. But there are many reasons the ground could be wet other than rain. We could make the argument sound like this:

  1. If it rained last night, it must be wet outside.
  2. It rained last night.
  3. Therefore, it must be wet outside.

A valid argument will be necessarily successful if the premises are both true. But an invalid argument will have a flaw in its construction, like “affirming the consequent.”

In logic this is clearly recognized as false because it leads to absurd conclusions (such as a logically false argument with true premises). In science, though, this is less clear because it is the exact structure with which we must form hypotheses.

Now let me be clear in saying that this is NOT how scientists come to their conclusions. Scientists use inductive logic instead of deductive logic, which means they treat these hypotheses as such—hypotheticals—and look to falsify them.

But that’s exactly my point. Science can only, in principle, falsify. It cannot prove anything with absolute truth because of its failure to produce a logically valid hypothesis.

Science needs philosophy

Is it common for advocates of scientism to claim that philosophy is dead. For example, Stephen Hawking once remarked:

…philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

But this is necessarily false. Why? First, consider that science was once called “natural philosophy.” That ought to tell you a little about how scientists of the past thought about their work.

But more than that, even the statement “scientists have become the torchbearers” is a philosophical statement. Scientism is, ironically, a philosophical position. To claim that only science can produce truthful answers to our big questions is itself a philosophical belief statement.

How do I know this? Simply because no “science” was used to come to that conclusion! You can’t have it both ways: Either science alone can answer the big questions or it can’t. And if you can’t know what’s true apart from science, then you couldn’t even know that science was true.

Science is a human construction

Finally, we should always remember that science is an interpretive device invented by humans. I want to be clear that God did not “invent” science or the scientific method. These constructs are the best attempts humanity has made to understand the natural world God has given us.

Proverbs 25:2 (KJV 1900) says,

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: But the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

God loves to send us on scavenger hunts for his treasures, and science is one of the best ways we’ve found to do that. But it’s a human device. And therefore it will have flaws, it will not be perfect, and it certainly should not be relied upon to lead us into all truth.

We Should Engage in Science

It’s safe to say that for most, if not all of us in this room, our career path is settled in. It’s quite unlikely any of us are going to stop everything we know and become scientists as a result of this study.

However, all of you are engaged in God’s Great Commission, and many of you have children. I’ve already given you some tools for using science in your gospel conversations. But I think beyond that, we should do our best to help our children engage in scientific learning and even encourage them to be scientists one day.

Think of it like politics. Some wonder whether Christians should be in politics. But here’s my question: If Christians aren’t engaged in politics, then those who make our laws will be non-Christians (by definition). And surely that is not great for “One Nation, Under God.”

It’s the same way with science. Many of us complain that science is biased against Christians, but few of us engage with it or encourage our kids to.

My two oldest boys are both (very differently) interested in science. And I would love nothing more than for both of them to go into scientific fields holding strong Christian convictions and working hard to show God’s glory in creation.

Trust me when I tell you, we NEED the next generation of creation scientists to step up. We need people in all branches of science to usher in the next revolution in scientific thought.

We’ve done so much with so little, but there is also so much to do. Our families could have a major part in that one day if we’d only encourage it! Part of the reason for classes like this is so that we might not shy away from tough questions sometimes raised by science, but rather that we’d have a mindset open to exploration.

We don’t have to be afraid of God’s world. One of my favorite creation scientists said it like this:

Back in 2015, when the skeletal remains of a human form called Homo naledi were first announced to the world, I remember one creationist responded, “Here we go again.” The Homo naledi discovery in a cave north of Johannesburg, South Africa is the richest hominin fossil discovery on the entire continent.69 When the ongoing excavations are complete, there will be thousands of bones from dozens of bodies. You know who knew about those bones before they were discovered? God knew. He made those bones. He made those people. They’re part of his creation. How could a Christian ever see such an amazing discovery and not fall down in gratitude and worship to our Creator for giving us the ability to find these glimpses of his glory? How could we ever say, “Here we go again”? The Homo naledi bones have been down there in the Rising Star Cave for thousands of years, right under the noses of four million residents of Johannesburg. What wonders of God are right outside your door? What amazing discoveries are lurking in your own back yard? God is waiting for you to find them. (Wood, Todd Charles. The Quest (p. 107). Compass Classroom. Kindle Edition.)

We should engage in the loving act of getting to know our Creator more deeply through the study of his amazing world. We should go on the treasure hunt he has called us to. And we should take every opportunity to bask in his great glory through science.

Meet Steve

Meet Steve

Hi, I’m Steve, an author, speaker, and Bible teacher with a heart for exploring God’s Word and God’s world.

I’m interested in the surprising connection between creation, theology, business, and storytelling. We explore those themes and more on this blog.

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