Christ and Science

Posted: September 23, 2011 in controversy, creation, nature, science

Mark Noll:

My appeal is not for a simple Baconian empiricism that treats observation and experience as the only pathways to valid knowledge. Instead, the appeal is that following Christ means having an open mind that can be fruitfully informed by what we experience in the world. Scientists do this through the experimental method. When responsible examination of nature takes place, the examiner discovers not just nature, but nature as created by the Son of God and sustained by Providence.

From a basic Christ-centered focus, the attitude toward the study of nature requires great openness and willingness to learn. The relevance of Christ for science is to realize that everything that exists in nature comes from Christ, but also that the life of Christ gives us a way of exploring nature that involves openness to what we experience. So, “Come and see.”

On scientific controversies among Evangelicals:

Many of the problems that have taken place in the so-called conflict between religion and science come from hasty conclusions. Right back to the Middle Ages, we have a long series of purportedly new discoveries in nature. The response by church leaders has often been, “This can’t be possible.” Only a little while later would Christian people say, “Here’s how it is possible.”

Neither Martin Luther nor John Calvin was at all willing to believe that the earth might move around the sun. But two generations later, all Lutherans, Calvinists, and Catholics agreed that in fact the earth did move around the sun. It would have been ideal for people to respond to the ideas of Copernicus and Galileo by saying, “Well, let’s take our time and evaluate this apparent contradiction with Scripture as carefully and as patiently as possible.” What took place instead was an unnecessarily dogmatic reaction.

I’m not qualified to speak in detail about current problems. As a historian, I am qualified to say that less denunciation and more effort at patient study is the best way forward.

From “Mark Noll On the Foundation of The Evangelical Mind” in Christianity Today (August 2011)

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