Search This Blog

Vibrant Dance: War Report!

The last Wednesday morning session was by Jack Collins of Covenant Seminary on how best to read Genesis 1-11. Unfortunately, I had to miss this one due to work obligations. Teaching still pays better than blogging! >sigh<

Walter Bradley from Baylor kicked off the afternoon session with, “A History of the Alleged "War" Between Science and Christianity.” Bradley is a very good speaker whom I’ve known personally for right around 20 years, and has achieved some renown for his talk on “Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God,” where he is very careful to distinguish between ‘evidence for’ and ‘proof of.’

Bradley started with a question along these lines, “Can one scientifically disprove that God exists?” His answer—“No. Science explores secondary causes, not primary causes.” In other words, a law in the field of epistemology (study of how we know things) is “every effect has a cause.” This implies there are possibly causes that have nothing that caused them—‘an uncaused cause.’ Science, Bradley argued, cannot study these, only caused causes. Thus, there is an inherent limit in science’s explanatory ability.

Science is a way of knowing, but so are history, religious practice, religious experience, and revelation. A lot of effort has been spent in studying how these epistemological sources of knowledge interrelate. Bradley went through four views on the relationship between science and religion, and the bulk of his talk is explaining and distinguishing each of them.

1)      Science and Religion are Independent—NOMA (Non-Overlapping MAgisteria), developed and promoted by atheist biologist Stephen Jay Gould-
a.       Magisterium of science: empirical realm
                                                               i.      What is the universe made of (fact)
                                                             ii.      Why does it work this way (theory)
b.      Magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value
c.       Science and religion do not glower at each other but interdigitate in patterns of complex thinking. (paraphrase from "Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms", Stephen J. Gould, p. 274)
d.      Scientists like many others are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature (Steering Committee on Science and Creationism (1999). "Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences". NAS Press. Retrieved 2007-11-16.)
e.      Critique by Dawkins-a universe with supernatural and natural presences would be a fundamentally and qualitatively different kind of universe from one without…Religions make existence claims and this means scientific claims. (Dawkins, Richard (2006). "Why There Almost Certainly Is No God". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-03-20.)
f.        Francis Schaeffer maintained that between science and faith there is no upper story /lower story dichotomy. In other words, when asking the ‘why’ questions of Purpose (higher purpose) versus purpose (mechanistic purpose), Schaeffer apparently says that one is not truly higher than the other. (This is disputed as we’ll see later.)

2)      Science and Religion are in Conflict-view held by Richard Dawkins, Andrew White
a.       Began during Enlightenment
b.      Paints picture of men of the Renaissance “finally throwing off the shackles of church domination so that rational enquiry can at last begin” James Hannam
c.       Andrew Dickson White (atheist), 1896, A History of Warfare of Science with Theology
d.      White’s hypothesis-“I saw that it was the conflict between two epochs in the evolution of human thought—the theological and  the scientific”
e.      White distorted much in history to try to make his case. (many examples given in the book by Lindberg and Numbers, 1987 and others) {I think the link is to the right book, though the dates don’t match.}
                                                               i.      Bruno first martyr of science-myth
                                                             ii.      Galileo was imprisoned and tortured-myth
g.       Warfare hypothesis has been exposed as rubbish by studies of highly rational scholastic thought of the Middle Ages by Grant and Murray
h.      In its traditional forms the conflict thesis has been largely discredited
i.         Yet, despite a developing consensus among scholars that they have not been at war the notion of conflict has refused to die.
j.        Most early scientists were Christians—Boyle, Pascal, Newton, Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, Maxwell, Faraday, Kelvin
k.       It was not a matter of Christianity waging war on science, as all of the participants called themselves Christians and all acknowledged biblical authority. (Lindberg and Numbers)
l.         The fundamentalist papers in 1910’s established the modern Christian fundamentalist movement, and one additional paper was commissioned to argue for a recent creation as a principal or test of orthodoxy ~1920 {Possibly this book?}
m.    These papers were motivated by
                                                               i.      Concern with the idea that God would use a process like evolution to create
                                                             ii.      A preference that no death occurred before Fall because of the question of theodicy (death is evil, and no evil before the Fall, therefore death can’t occur before the Fall, therefore the universe must be young)
                                                            iii.      Recent earth was ‘slam dunk’ argument against evolution
n.      Conflict exacerbated by provocations by Christians based on hermeneutical arguments on Genesis 1-11
                                                               i.      6th fundamentalist paper in 1920
                                                             ii.      Resurgences of YEC ~1930
                                                            iii.      Genesis Flood, Creation Research Society
                                                           iv.      Answers in Genesis
o.      There was also some provocation by scientism (purposeless, directionless, purely accidental outcomes) {Where is the scientific evidence of this view????}
p.      Intelligent Design movement arose to suggest/highlight evidence for a Creator
q.      Most theists essentially agree with some sort of design argument
r.        However, there is considerable debate over what is valid evidence for design
s.       Militant atheism is one of the major contemporary antagonists—often under the guise of science, but is in fact scientism
t.        New questions have arisen recently {largely from genetics} about the possibility of a historical Adam and Eve

3)      Science and Religion have “Constructive Integration”—primarily advocated by Hugh Ross
a.       Rejects NOMA assumption explicitly
b.      Sees Bible as making statements about the physical world and therefore having scientific significance
c.       The integrative task is to harmonize the Biblical statement that gives data about the physical universe with scientific data
d.      Two books—Book of Scripture and Book of Nature {coined by Galileo}
e.      Why do the conflicts focus on Genesis 1-11?
                                                               i.      It presents a story that intersects with earth history in a significant way. Is constructive integration possible here?
                                                             ii.      The challenge is to interpret both properly
f.        Some points of controversy
                                                               i.      Was the universe, earth, all plant and animal life created 6000 years ago in 6 days?
                                                             ii.      Was there a flood since beginning of human race that covered the entire world?
                                                            iii.      Are all fossils result of flood?
g.       General Principles of understanding Gen 1-11
                                                               i.      There exists a relationship between God and nature
1.       Christians and Jews are theists not deists
2.       Newton believed that gravitational attraction (and other natural laws) were descriptions of Gods’ customary way of caring for his creatures Col1:17
3.       This view stimulated experimental approach to science, departing from Greek rationalism (using logic alone to derive truth about natural world)
4.       What then are miracles?
                                                             ii.      Use of phenomenological language
                                                            iii.      Use of metaphorical language
                                                           iv.      Use of literary genres
                                                             v.      Accommodation of audience—exegetical tool, proposed by Calvin—the Bible accommodates the original readers of Scripture
                                                           vi.      Keep God’s primary purposes in scriptural context in mind
                                                          vii.      International Council on Biblical Inerrancy indicated that the goal of Biblical hermeneutics is to interpret the passage as the original author intended it (like the conservative Supreme Court jurists who say that we interpret the Constitution  as the authors meant it)

4)      Science and Religion are Complementary—advocated by Richard Bube, Donald MacKay
a.       Bible and science are dealing with different  questions
                                                               i.      Science deals with how or proximate causes
                                                             ii.      Bible and faith deal with why and ultimate causes
b.      Why is the water boiling on the stove? (upper and lower story) (mechanistic purpose vs higher purpose)
5)      In summary:
a.       There is no final conflict
b.      Bible clearly speaks to meaning and purpose- why water is boiling?
c.       Bible may provide insights about the physical world, but this is not its primary purpose
d.      We need to be careful not to read into the Bible details about the physical world that are not intended and conflict with Gods revelation in the created world
e.      Bible paints with broad strokes on creation; we should be careful not to read too much into the streaks in this broad paint job
f.        Andy Crouch-review of “Science vs  Religion:  What Scientists Really Think” by Elaine Ecklund—October 19, 2010

This excellent talk was so long and information dense, my fingers were flying across the keyboard trying to keep my notes apace with Bradley’s information. The outline format I used in my notes seemed like a good way to present the material visually in a blog format, so I beg your indulgence.


No comments:

Post a Comment