Thursday, December 19, 2002

Science is our Friend

Which of the following propositions do you suppose is true?
  1. The orthodox position of the church has always been that the days in the Genesis creation account are literal 24-hour days. Only since the advent of modern science and mounting evidence for an old earth has the "day-age" theory been invented in a fools-errand attempt to reconcile Genesis and science.

  2. The idea that the days in Genesis 1 reflect long periods of time was taught in the early church, and only since evolution was introduced has there been a major push in the church to affirm the literal 24-hour interpretation.
The answer is number two. The writings of many church fathers (you can find the references in the book The Genesis Debate) either ignored the question or explicitly taught against the literal 24-hour-day interpretation.

The push to the literal interpretation came, or at least achieved its critical mass, as a response to evolution theory. Both sides immediately understood that time is of critical importance. Evolutionists knew that they needed an old earth to give natural selection sufficient time to operate. The best way, so it was thought, to deny them that time they needed was to elevate the literal interpretation of day into the arena of essential doctrine.

This well-meaning change in what was considered essential has had disastrous consequences. It has made Christians enemies of science when we should embrace science as part of God’s natural revelation. As evidence mounted for an old universe and an old earth, Christians painted themselves in tighter and tighter corners in trying to explain away the data with bizarre theories about how accepted and independent scientific models, through a conspiracy of errors that is truly mind boggling, give consistent but incredibly wrong answers.

Occasional scientific blunders or routine modifications to theories, which is part and parcel of doing science, are displayed as proof-positive that science is unreliable. Scant attention is paid to the fact that the computers used to write the diatribes, the fiber optics used to transmit the anti-science webpages, and the satellites used to beam science-demonizing sermons around the world all rely on the same science that is being condemned.

The irony is that science is uncovering more and more information that points to an intelligent creator. If Christianity (even the usually enlightened Presbyterians: bad PCA, bad!) had not hitched its wagon to the young earth theory, we would be in a much better position to spread the gospel in conjunction with an acknowledgement of the obviously intelligent design that science has shown is so evident in our universe. At it is modern science that is uncovering these amazing facts—science that we should be embracing.

Ironically, the earlier complex life forms came on the world scene the tougher it is for evolution. Recent discoveries show that bacteria existed far earlier than previously thought. Since the age of the earth is rather tightly constrained, any discovery that pushes up the introduction of complex life makes evolution even less credible. Time is still a critical issue, and it is getting more so all the time. It is the evolutionists who should fear science, not Christians.

Christians used to worry about archeology, lest it uncover something in conflict with the bible. Over the years we have seen the opposite: secular archeologists, amazed at the accuracy of the bible as a history book, now use it to guide their searches. Archeology has done nothing except confirm the accuracy of the bible. (Which should make Mormons quite jealous—archeology has done nothing but refute Joseph Smith.)

We should apply that lesson to science. If we stop covering our ears and humming loudly when the topic of science comes up, we would find that science is no enemy of Christianity, but anti-science surely is.

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