Believing in Creation but Also in Science (Science and Faith 1)

One of the biggest challenges to a Bible-based faith in today’s world is the evidence we encounter when we take up the study of science. For one thing, while science has answered many questions and has provided many enhancements to our lives, it has not generally brought us closer to God. And it is impotent to prove that God exists (neither is it able to disprove that God exists). Furthermore, while Scripture does not itself set a date for creation, a plain reading of the text certainly implies that life began a relatively short time ago. Multiple trails of scientific evidence, on the other hand, imply that life began an extremely long time ago.

The relationship of faith to the evidence of science, therefore, is a very important point of discussion. Unfortunately aspect of this topic is that once an issue like this becomes politicized, and it has been politicized, the conversation tends to be controlled by extremists on both sides and those who represent the center are often intimidated into silence. But it is at times when courage begins to fail that those who “cannot be bought or sold” must be all the more prepared to speak. In doing so, however, we must not confuse rudeness and disparaging speech with integrity. Genuine integrity must be combined with respect for those who may disagree.

One way for believers to resolve the issues of faith and science is the “head in the sand” approach. Assume that there is something seriously flawed somewhere in the scientific enterprise and go on believing as if science never happened. Another way some believers resolve the issue is to assume that science has settled some of these ultimate questions and that the Bible is unscientific enough to be ignored on all issues where science has a legitimate voice. But neither of these approaches works if you are a Seventh-day Adventist. From the beginning, Adventists have been firmly committed to the teachings of the Bible, but also firmly committed to God’s “other book,” the book of nature, and therefore to the scientific enterprise. Adventists do not see these two tasks, understanding the Bible and understanding reality as exposed by science, as two parallel tracks that never intersect. Adventism has always been committed to integrating faith and the scientific enterprise.

Because of this passion for wholeness and integration, Adventists not only have institutions of higher education that focus on the humanities, like Andrews University, they have institutions of higher education that focus on science, like Loma Linda University and the Geoscience Research Institute. Given the challenges and the possibilities inherent in attempting to integrate faith and science, church leadership has encouraged me to ponder these issues afresh and offer some guidance and encouragement to all who struggle with these issues. As a professor of religion in a science-based university, I do not have all the answers, but I am in a place to understand some of the questions. This series of blogs is my own reflection. I have not sought feedback before putting these out there, so my choice of words and themes may be deficient. I have a lot to learn. So I welcome response and will not be offended by criticism. And in the process, I hope that this series will build faith in the God who I believe makes science possible and offers His blessing on our best efforts to understand His creation.

10 thoughts on “Believing in Creation but Also in Science (Science and Faith 1)

  1. Zog Has-fallen

    Dr. Paulien,
    Regarding the extraordinarily compelling scientific arguments that dominate the unsettled controversies of instantaneous creation versus evolution, I wish that believing Seventh-day Adventists would aspire to be the head and not the tail. To inspire the Remnant Church with the belief that going forth conquering and to conquer is a possibility in the scientific realm, I wish to alert your audience to an important 2-page summary of Dr. J.C. Sanford’s book, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome (Classroom Edition). http://everythingimportant.org/genome.pdf

    Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Sharyn

    I feel that your series of an integrated approach of scripture and science will only harmonise truth to reveal a better understanding of God’s character. I also feel that you need to add an additional evidence thread of “experience”- see Psalm 34:8.

    Reply
  3. Robert Whiteman

    Regarding the Bible teaching of a “recent” creation vs the teaching of long ages of evolution (due to how the evidence is being interpreted by “science”): if today’s scientists had arrived here on earth the week following creation, let’s say, the following Tuesday(the 3rd day of the 2nd week), and happened to meet Adam and Eve there in the garden, to their observations, Adam and Eve would appear to be at least in their 30’s, the the trees in the garden and all around would appear to be quite old themselves, perhaps 50 years or older, though they were just now one week in existence, along with the soil they were growing in, while Adam and Eve would be 4 days old. God created a mature world fit for habitation. The sun and moon, barely 5 days in existence would appear(in the light of today’s scientific reasoning) to be several million(billion?) years in existence.

    What does this tell us? Those of faith accept the Word of God above the evidence and it’s interpretation by finite men who by their conclusions are saying “there is no God[i.e. Creator]”(Ps 14:1), and thus are defined by God’s Word as fools. Are the servants of God to contend with such people, if we accept all the instructions contained in God’s word? Is this Word truly a “lamp for [our] feet and a light for [our] path”?

    So why are they called fools in the Word of God? The Holy Spirit through Paul tells us: “that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,…”. Do we believe this, or do we accept the arguments/excuses of those God calls fools? Do we have faith in God(Ps 118:8,9)?

    Any “evidence of science” which is contrary to God’s Word must be seen as misunderstood, and left for God to explain when we finally see Him face to face, when He will address subjects which today are really not important compared to the work of saving sinners in the waning hours of their probation, which Christ has commissioned His servants to do. What has not been revealed to us must wait, and not distract the servants of God from doing their appointed work. We have no example from Christ to follow in debating with the foolish over “facts” that deny the truth, and of those things not yet revealed to us. He never taught His disciples to take on such challenges, and has even given counsel to “avoid questions that gender strife”. Also, according to scripture, what will be the outcome of reproving a “fool”?

    Based on my personal understanding of God’s word, this is the only way I am able to view this topic presently, so if there is anything wrong with the above perspective, please point it out.

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      A pretty compelling outline to anyone who privileges their understanding of the Bible over other sources of evidence. My point in this series is that we may have misunderstood what the Bible allows and does not allow us to think about origins and therefore a satisfying, but speculative approach like the one you have taken is not a solution for most struggling with these issues. Not everything that satisfies is true and not everything that is true satisfies.

      Reply
      1. Robert Whiteman

        Faith in God will never be a solution to those who reject any portion of His word. Scripture is all we have that is reliable in the field of origins since no one who has lived on earth, including Adam and Eve were eyewitnesses to creation. So any suggestion or idea accepted that assumes the creation account as false, will naturally leave the one accepting it unsatisfied with trusting God and His word. Yet, according to Paul, this is done by rejecting the base conviction that God’s word is true, since “…God has shown it unto them”(Rom 1:20). Remember, it is the “fool” that denies God and His claim as creator of all things that are made(Ps 14:1).

        When you say “we may have misunderstood what the Bible allows and does not allow us to think about origins”, I’m not sure what you are referring to specifically. I realize “new” ideas have come forth from among many in our church, but without specifics, I don’t know if your suggestion might be something similar or not. I’m just not aware of what may be “misunderstood”. (This has not been a topic on the front burner for me, so excuse any ignorance I might be demonstrating. I have found the Bible to reveal greater concerns than the argument over origins. At least for me at this time. Still, acceptance of the Gospel will replace unbelief with faith in the word of God, which remains the best solution to the problem man has created over this issue.)

        My main point was actually questioning the validity of even taking on the challenge of debating this subject when scripture barely mentions it, while being filled from Genesis to the Revelation on the subject of the gospel saving sinners from sin and it’s wages, so that they might “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” with the Creator who will reveal more than we can even imagine. God’s priorities for His servants are clearly defined, especially in the life and teachings of Jesus, the Living Head of the Church. Any who are led to trust and accept Jesus will trust the Word of God on origins and leave the unanswered questions until the time of God’s choosing.

        Does this seem reasonable?

        Reply
        1. Jon Paulien Post author

          Actually, I like your point. I have translated Genesis from the Hebrew and know that what it does NOT say about science is a lot more than what it DOES say. The SDA Church bases its view on a reasonable understanding of Genesis, but it is not an infallible understanding, so I try to stay humble.

          Reply
          1. Robert Whiteman

            Exactly, there is no basis for pride regardless of how “great” our understanding might seem to ourselves. God’s silence on the subject of science is an example for us isn’t it? We may have “strong confidence” in what God has revealed, yet, with meekness and lowliness of heart.

      2. Doris

        Why would you be struggling with any such issues. Do you not know that ALL men are liars, and only God is truth? Who do you think is in behind our all so-called science? It is Lucifer, the former prince of this world. He lost his mojo with the universe when he got innocent Christ Jesus treated brutally and murdered. All of the beings that God created finally saw Satan for who he really is, and there was no longer any sympathetic feelings for him once Christ ascended to Heaven. All beings no longer had any unresolved questions regarding God’s character. He was overwhelming and completely vindicated from Satan’s lies about Him. If you allow any field of worldly science to blind you to God’s plain Biblical truths, then you are not exercising faith, imo. Technology has advanced due to Satan’s knowledge in that regard, but the true scientific method and peer review has been totally high-jacked by Rome’s patsies – in exactly the same way that pure, apostolic Christianity was. Science is a complete sham, and has been since the Jesuit order was instituted. This has been their prime target. Look at all the scientific degrees in astronomy, math, physics, and math that so many Jesuit priests have. They have been in control of our educational system for many generations now. You surely have to notice how dumbed-down the masses have become. People cannot even spell correctly anymore, nor do they know the rules of grammar. Most can barely write a coherent sentence. Compare that with how beautifully people wrote and spoke 160 years ago. Children are ‘trained’ as monkeys as to what they must know. They are merely indoctrinated with the paradigms that Rome wants them to believe. They are not taught to question things nor how to think critically for themselves. Once their education is completed – they are nothing but mindless puppets that ‘believe’ what they have been taught is truth. Science has become the religion of Scientism (based only upon theories) and is completely a faith based enterprise for the masses. I will put my faith in the Creator of all things (which includes science) – not in man, who is fallen and in rebellion against God’s laws – just like Satan is. Christ gave us the opportunity of salvation by dying our eternal death penalty for breaking God’s laws. He also promised to send His comforter, who has the power to restore us into the same image Adam had at creation. We just have to ‘believe’ he can re-create us and make us fit subjects for His Kingdom, and this requires faith (trust) and having his laws written upon our heart and mind; whereby, we once again have his attributes of love for God above all others and real love for each other.

        Reply
    2. Doris

      Robert – Wonderful reply. The way I see it – why should we trust or believe anything that so-called science has to say. Satan has his tentacles into everything – especially the pseudoscience that is taught today – well. actually for about 500 years. The Jesuits control our education system (as well as our political & governmental) – so everything taught in our education system is nothing but indoctrination into the paradigms THEY want us to believe. Most especially the medical mafia paradigm, which is 100% controlled by Big Pharma, as are the FDA, CDC, WHO, UNICEF, FDA, etc. It is all junk science and mainly theoretical math equations. The scientific method is dead and buried. Math is NOT science. It is a language, and as such, can only describe. It cannot demonstrate. Furthermore, math can be made to say whatever you desire – all depends on the axiom upon which the equations begin with.

      Reply

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