Monday, December 09, 2019

It really is that simple

Most of my six or seven readers might, by now, think I have nothing but utter disdain for philosophers. But that's not true. It's not utter. Seriously though, I do admire some Christian philosophers, for example Francis Schaeffer. Consider this little gem:
When we come to a problem, we should take time as educated people to reconsider both the special and general revelations; that is, we should take time to think through the question. There is a tendency among many today to consider that the scientific truth will always be more true. This we must reject. We must take ample time, and sometimes this will mean a long time, to consider whether the apparent clash between science and revelation means that the theory set forth by science is wrong or whether we must reconsider what we thought the Bible says. [1]
This is so simple, and yet so hard to do.

Let me rewrite in a clumsier way:

Lemma 1: 
P1) The bible (special revelation) is the inerrant word of God
P2) The universe (general revelation) is the inerrant creation of God
P3) God is not a god of deception who creates fake evidence to test us
C: The bible and the material universe cannot be in conflict

Lemma 2:
P1) Theology is how men and women study special revelation
P2) Science is how men and women study general revelation
P3) Men and women are fallible [2]
C: Theology and science can be in conflict

Lemma 3: 
P1) Theology can be wrong
P2) Science can be wrong
P3) Theology and science can be in conflict (by Lemma 2)
C: When they are in conflict, one or both must be wrong, and the only way to resolve the conflict is to examine both, and not assume that one's theology or one's science is beyond reproach.

Why can't we follow Schaeffer's simple advice?

[1] No Final Conflict, Francis A. Schaeffer, p. 24
[2] I'll take understatements for $1000, Alex.


  1. I remember you posting on this back in 2008 with a great diagram which I have used a number of times when teaching on Christianity and science. I even blogged on it at the time and included the diagram here:

  2. By the way, I love the Francis Schaeffer quote here and the three lemmas. Great stuff!

  3. Good job. Why don't we follow this advice?