Theology, not science

Creation Science is about theology, not science.

This whole debate is about theology, not science. As you pointed out to me Ben, "If evolution is right then the Bible must be wrong. We are convinced that the Bible is right therefore science must be wrong about evolution." This seems impeccable logic. If the bible is factual, literal historical truth, then either it, or creation science, is wrong.

Before looking at the logic though, consider what that argument is about. It's theology that's at issue, not science! The interest creation science has in science is to prove it wrong. It is interested not in the scientific facts, but in the theological truth. The temptation will always be to bend the scientific facts to suit the theological truth. This doesn't mean that will happen, but it's the pressure point. On the other hand theological truth is not an issue for scientific investigation. To quote Scott again:

Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. As practiced in the 20th and likely in the 21st centuries, science restricts itself to explaining the natural world using natural causes. This restriction of evolution to explanation through natural cause is referred to as methodological materialism, materialism in this context referring to matter, energy, and their interaction. Methodological materialism is one of the main differences between science and religion (Scott, 1995). Religion may use natural explanations for worldly phenomena, but reserves the right to explain through divine intervention; science has no such option. Whether or not miracles occur, they cannot be part of a scientific explanation.

There is a very good comment from Charles Birch which points out that when scientists assume that because they have found out ''how" they also know "what for" they have gone from being scientific to being religious. Creation Science advocates are right when they claim some scientists are anti-religious.

The doctrine of materialism (he means science that claims to explain ''what for' ) is a metaphysic; (i.e.; loosely, a religion, not science,) it is certainly neither verifiable nor falsifiable, any more than are non-materialistic views. Indeed, it seems likely that we all have some sort of metaphysics in the sense of the basic assumptions we make about the order and structure of existence.

Let's go back to logic. "if evolution is right then the Bible must be wrong. We are convinced that the Bible is right, therefore science must be wrong about evolution."

This assumes a) there are only two choices in opposition to each other, and b) that science and the bible are talking about the some thing. Otherwise the logic does not hold. So, are science in evolution and the bible in Genesis talking about the some thing? Are they really competing with each other to truthfully explain the origins of life? As I keep saying to you , No! Science is how, theology is why/ what for/ what does this all mean? They are about different kinds of knowledge and truth.

Remember the story of the Hyena I told you about. He smelled a fresh carcass on the wind from the north and turned towards it. But the wind changed to come from the south and he smelled another carcass there. So he turned to the south. But then the wind changed back from the north so he turned again. The wind kept changing, and the hyena kept running from north to south until suddenly it split in two, and fell down dead!

I told you this story, and asked if it were true? And you said, "I shouldn't think so," and laughed. I said, "That the city dweller's answer, but the African villagers say, 'Of course it's true: greed kills!"'

That's where the problem is. You were misunderstanding what kind of truth the story of the Hyena is dealing with. It is dealing with the truth of meaning, but your ears were only listening for the truth of how! This is the mistake Creation Scientists make. They are reading the bible with eyes looking for "how," not eyes looking for meaning. Or else, they think the Theory of Evolution is dealing with more than just "how," and contradicting the bible.

In his article Evolution Science and Creation Theology, Anthony J. M. Garrett puts it this way:

At this point we can see what causes the trouble: because evolution gives an account of human descent that is silent about purpose, people mistakenly suppose it asserts that there is no purpose to human presence. This is a logical error. Evolution, being silent about purpose, cannot be taken to imply that there is or is not purpose to human existence. To support or attack the theory on the grounds that it implies there is no purpose to human life, as some atheists and some Christians respectively do, is to commit this error.

Creation Scientists are making a category mistake when they attack evolution. A category mistake is where we talk of something in terms appropriate only to something of a radically different kind.

Let me end This letter with one more quote from Eugenie Scott , who says how St. Augustine (354 - 430 AD) said Christians

should not talk nonsense, i.e., accept statements in the Bible about natural phenomena as true when they contradict reason and experience. When Scripture is contradicted by empirical evidence, it is the duty of a Christian to scrupulously examine the argument, and if it cannot be refuted, then to accept it. Augustine was concerned that potential converts would not accept the spiritual message of Christianity if the Scriptures were found to be in error on empirical matters:
"Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, while presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics. ... If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well, and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about the Scriptures, how then are they going to believe those Scriptures in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven? How indeed, when they think that their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?" (Taylor, 1983)

Creation Scientists are fond of suggesting that some other Christians have deserted ''historical Christianity" for modern philosophy. Actually the reverse is true. Creation Science is captive to the extreme rationalism that came from parts of the enlightenment. In an ironic tragedy it cannot read its own scriptures properly, but reads them as a scientific text, missing so much of God's truth, and holding the faith up to ridicule! To put it bluntly, rot only is Creation Science not science, it is bad theology.


April 28 2006





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