We must teach no more and no less than what the Scriptures say.
Arthur A. Eggert
It’s common to hear of people who are working to prove evolution is false and to validate the biblical account of creation. They have written a lot of literature, they run websites like Answers in Genesis, and they even have a Creation Museum. Their arguments can sound very convincing, just like the models of the evolutionists can sound very convincing. Before we accept their arguments, however, we need to evaluate how they fit with the Bible and scientific practice.
The fundamental assumption of science is that all phenomena we observe can be explained in terms of the natural properties of matter, energy, time, and space. This assumption precludes the existence of supernatural beings.
Because the Bible teaches that the Lord God (a supernatural being) exists, that he created the world, and that he actively manages it, Christians reject the fundamental assumption of science. Due to the Lord’s active involvement with the universe, anything observed by scientists may be a result of natural processes, of miraculous acts by God, or of a combination of the two. This makes all evolutionary models or theories wholly unreliable and impossible to validate.
Alas, the same statement is equally true of all explanations developed by “creation scientists.” For example, did the Lord bring the Grand Canyon to its present state of existence through natural processes, supernatural acts, or both? Neither evolutionary science nor creation science can answer that question if the primary assumption of science is false. Moreover, the Bible does not give us the answer either.
While scientists must believe that nothing is a miracle (i.e., unexplainable), Christians must believe that everything is a miracle (i.e., we don’t really know how God causes anything to happen). This profound truth is inherent in our belief in an almighty God who controls even the “laws of nature.”
This truth is made very clear when the Lord challenged Job (Job chapters 38–41) to explain the hidden things of God. Job couldn’t. Nobody can. At any one time humans can observe only the tiniest fraction of the universe and can know only what their senses and their instruments reveal to them. The Lord is not obligated to limit his activities to what humans can detect and model. He reveals the breadth of his power throughout Scripture. He has absolute control over all things, both large and small. He leads the stars out (Job 38:31,32). He guards little sparrows (Matthew 10:29). He numbers people’s hairs (Matthew 10:30). He “clothes” lilies (Luke 12:27,28). He provides food for all (Psalm 145:15,16). He guards our safety (Psalm 91:11,12). He builds our structures (Psalm 127:1), and he establishes governments (Romans 13:1). The only way we know anything about God’s hidden actions is through revelation, not through science or other means of human investigation (Isaiah 8:20). Even perfect science can tell us nothing for certain.
Second, scientific models are not like religious tenets. For example, we understand the meaning of such teachings as transubstantiation and double predestination because they have precise definitions. We can formulate scriptural arguments against them that will endure throughout the generations. Conversely, scientific models are the result of the scientific method, which cause them to undergo frequent refinement. For example, the constant that relates the height of an object to the length of its sun-caused shadow changes continually based on the time of day and time of year. Every scientific model/theory is hostage to the next observation, which may force it to be revised. If one develops a scientific argument against a model, that argument will become obsolete as soon as the model is refined. That’s how science works. Scientists criticize each other’s models continually to try to disprove them, and they are better than amateurs at finding the weaknesses in such models.
It is precisely in this regard that churches that try to argue scientifically against evolution often make themselves look foolish. To understand the implications of scientific models takes a substantial amount of training, usually in several fields of science. Scientific models are built on many assumptions, not all of which are usually expressed, because everyone working with them supposedly already knows these assumptions.
For example, it is seldom mentioned in elementary science courses that common laws of motion are only true for perfectly elastic uncharged point-masses at slow speeds in vacuums where there are no frictional or gravitational forces. Sound complex? It is, but one needs to understand such complexity to challenge scientific models. Most scientific models, even generally accepted ones (sometimes called “laws”), have boundary conditions that greatly limit when they can be applied. It is also common for models to contain conclusions that do not sit comfortably with human reason. For example, how can the lengths of objects decrease as they go faster? It is common for those who are not thoroughly trained in science, such as most pastors and teachers in the church, to make caricatures of the actual scientific models/theories and beat on them with arguments that are scientific nonsense. Such efforts can diminish called workers’ credibility and undermine their authority on spiritual matters.
Finally, the Christian church is not commissioned to reform the institutions of the world, neither through the social gospel nor through improving society’s morals nor through creation science. In this sinful world such efforts are like trying to empty an ocean with a teaspoon. The time and effort expended to perform them do nothing to fulfill the Great Commission. It is more important that we preach the gospel and teach the faith. It is even of little value to point out the irrationality of some of the claims of evolutionists because Christianity itself is not based on logic but on revelation. The Holy Spirit works through the Word, not through our reasoning, to change hardened hearts with the saving message.
We must teach no more and no less than the Scriptures teach about how the Lord created and preserves the world. That means we accept six-day creation and the universal flood. We accept the miracles performed in both the Old and New Testaments. We hold this position because, “Thus says the Lord.”
On the other hand, we do not try to peek behind the curtain of how the Lord brought the world to its current state. We admit that we do not know what changes he made when he cursed the ground in Genesis chapter 3, through the flood, or at any other time unless they are specifically mentioned in the Bible. We acknowledge the usefulness of science and the value of the scientific method in helping us to live more comfortably in the world God gave us. We insist, however, that scientific models/theories be accepted for what they really are—the results of the efforts of fallible human beings to explain the universe, efforts that are limited by what the Lord allows us to observe, and results that are worthless when they contradict the revelation the Lord has given us in the Scriptures. We dare not buttress our faith with any such human-devised models lest we slide off the rock of Scripture and into a ditch.
Dr. Arthur Eggert is a member at Peace, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
This is the final article in a two-part series on creation.
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Author: Arthur A. Eggert
Volume 103, Number 1
Issue: January 2016
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