Surely, evolution is about the origin and development of life-forms on earth — what has this got to do with religion? Evolution is science, isn’t it?
We are sure that many people will find the question posed as the title of this chapter a little strange. Surely, evolution is about the origin and development of life-forms on earth — what has this got to do with religion? Evolution is science, isn’t it? And we are told that it has got to be separate from religious belief — at least in the classroom! Well, let’s see if evolution fits the bill as a true science as opposed to a religious belief. In order to do so, we must define some terms.
What Is Science?
Creationists are often accused of being unscientific or pseudoscientific, while at the same time those who promote evolution assume the mantle of “real scientist.” But what is science anyway? According to The American Heritage Dictionary, science is “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.”1 Or put more simply, science involves observing things in the real world and trying to explain how they work. The key word here is observation.
You see, creationists do, indeed, believe in real “observational science,” sometimes called “operational science.” We enjoy the benefits of observational science every day. Whether flying in an airplane, having our illness cured by the wonders of modern medicine, or writing this book on a space-age laptop computer, we are benefiting from the technology that applies genuine observational science to real-world needs. These triumphs of science exist in the present and can therefore be the subjects of examination and investigation.
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But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:20–21).
I was having lunch with a highly educated man some time ago when he turned and asked with a slight air of cynicism, “Do you take a religious view of Genesis or the scientific view?”
I responded this way, “Let me ask you a question. Can you define for me in the context of this conversation what you mean by the term ‘scientific’?” There was a long silence. “Hmmm, I don’t really know. I haven’t really thought about that,” he admitted.
Part of the problem we see in Christian colleges that are already compromised is that most people haven’t thought about that! Most people think that the battle over creation and evolution is being fought between “science” and “religion.” But there are two problems with this thinking:
Most people can’t define the word “science,” and thus they end up misunderstanding how the word is used in our modern world.
Most people have an incorrect understanding of the word “religion” and, as a result, falsely think in terms of neutrality and nonreligion versus religion.
The primary dictionary definition of the word science is basically “knowledge.” We need to understand that one can have knowledge concerning what happened in the past (e.g., the origins issue). This is called “historical science.” However, this knowledge is based on certain assumptions about the past. If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions reached will likely be wrong and we will misunderstand history. Understanding the assumptions used to build historical knowledge is extremely important.
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In the context of discussing the Noah Flood Account a correct understanding of it as a narrative can be better ascertained by a correct understanding of the fields of religion, science, and philosophy. These three categories are part of the fabric of every human being. How one views and integrates them together will affect their views on the Noah Flood Account. A brief description and discussion of the interfacing of them will follow—but a longer account has been given elsewhere. Thus, I am presenting how I view the inter-related fields of religion, science, and philosophy and their impact on my views of the Noah Flood Account. But it is very important to acknowledge that every single theologian, philosopher, and scientist brings to the debate a bias—some admit this, but many are unwilling to admit that they do so.
Religion answers questions that no other domain of inquiry can answer. It answers what is unanswerable by any other means. As a dialogue written in 1826 stated, “Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? How shall I reach the one—how shall I reach the other? Let reason pronounce: let reason determine. It cannot. No created intelligence can come forward and satisfy me. Who can find out God, and his infinite mind and will. But look ye, companions; to be left ignorance, or even doubt, on these things, is to be left without the first elements of religion … .”
Neither science nor philosophy can answer whether there is a heaven or hell, nor can they answer questions regarding the absolute beginning or ending of the universe, the exact composition of matter, whether there is an immaterial soul or spiritual part of man, nor the absolute “meaning to life.” It remains a domain of religion. Even today, all of mankind are religious whether each considers themselves God-fearing, agnostic (who states he’s not sure whether there is a god—but to most god becomes irrelevant) or an atheist (i.e. who chooses to believe there is no God).
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