Religion, Science, Philosophy And How Each Interfaces In The Noah Flood Account
Published: 28 May 2013 (GMT+10)
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.1 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.2,3
An atheist or agnostic religion is a belief system that purposefully excludes the idea of God. But to the Christian there is a physical, soul, and spiritual domain (in which divine revelation is given).
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 … .”4
Neither science5 nor philosophy6,7 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.8 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 irrelevant9) or an atheist (i.e. who chooses to believe there is no God10).
Religion implies that which one relies on or is devoted to.11 If a person believes in God, then their religion is associated with God, but an atheist or agnostic religion is a belief system that purposefully excludes the idea of God.12 In a broader sense, religion is the core set of principles upon which any individual depends, and thus it overlaps with their philosophy of life (discussed next). To the adherent of the “materialist” view of life, all reality is composed of only what can be felt, seen, smelled etc., the idea of a non-material nature is excluded by their faith.13,14 To the Christian and other faiths there is a physical, soul, and spiritual domain (in which divine revelation is given).15,16,17
One of the most profound effects of choosing not to believe in God is that it allows one to become their own judge of right and wrong.18 This will affect how one views the Noah flood account as the focus of the narrative is directly related to how God views right and wrong.19
The term philosophy comes from two Greek words: philos—friend and sophos—wise. Thus it embraces the idea of one who loves or desires knowledge.20 It comprises both value-commitments and beliefs about the general nature of things.21 The process by which one philosophizes is called “reasoning”.
The law of causality is to most people intrinsically obvious: If a car runs on fuel, then doesn’t the car need fuel to run?
Reasoning is a mental process by which a person assesses one’s self, others, and the environment. It is both inductive and deductive.22 By it one compares and contrasts, associates and disassociates information. Evidencing is a type of reasoning. One sees a car, therefore it is. Motivation affects reason. For example, one dislikes walking long distances, and a car becomes viewed as a necessity of life. Causality is a process of reasoning. A car runs on gas therefore it must have gas to run.
Philosophy as a construct can be isolated to assessing only the physical realm (and may exclude the soulish and spiritual realms) as occurs in naturalism, which was previously known as positivism (1800s).23 It can be used to emphasize mental perception as promoted by David Hume in the 1700s,24 or it can be applied to minimize the physical and emphasize the spiritual as in New Ageism (various movements).25,26 Other world views such as Christianity, accept the physical, mental and spiritual realms as areas to be examined, but that examination is to be put within the guidelines of the developer of that world view or paradigm.27 For the Christian this becomes the construct from God revealed to mankind.
Reliable reasoning requires four assumptions:
1) that truth can be discovered;
2) that reality is real (physical and spiritual) and can be understood;
3) man is finite in his capacity for understanding knowledge (this is a practical truth); and
4) a corollary: revelation from God is necessary for the understanding of absolute truth (otherwise absolute truth is not obtainable—as there will always be the likelihood of unknown factors that could affect it).
These principles have a direct impact on the study of science.
Science as a general concept involves the systematic study and organization of groups of information.28 In a practical sense and in common usage it is simply the observation of the physical universe. By this definition, it can be used to ask only two basic questions:
1) classification of physical properties; for example, “what is its color,” or “how heavy is it” etc. and
2) directly observed change; for example, “will heating or cooling alter it” or “will mixing it with this other compound change its properties” etc.
The information obtained can then be used to manipulate the physical environment, and this is called technology. Science cannot be used to estimate the beauty or value of something, it does not answer aesthetic questions—for how can it?29 Nor can it be used to determine, definitively, events out of observed history that are non-reproducible or of a non-material nature. It is an observational process—and is limited by the correct knowledge already ascertained and by the method of discovery with its limits of precision (to what exactness can something be measured), variability/reproducibility, and the reliability and calibration of the equipment being used.
The organized pursuit of science and discovery has been advanced mostly through what has been called the “Scientific Method”. This method or process involves the collecting of observations which are then collated into a hypothesis. This information is then applied by induction to form a theory. The theory is then tested by deduction, a process of experimentation, to predict certain results which may or may not be verified to varying degrees by observations. The theory should be supported, modified, or discarded based on the results. This process was primarily developed mostly by Christian scientists in the 1500-1700s30 but the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks31 had done some groundbreaking work earlier on—although it can be argued that their understanding of God and nature hindered any real development of a Scientific Method.32
1) ethical norms: honesty is essential;
2) personal power of the scientist: mental capability, equipment, etc.;
3) validity of laws of logic: that reality is, that there are reproducible laws of nature;
4) confirmatory testing of others, as all scientists are affected by bias and limited by their understanding of the observations, and ultimately
5) that God created all creation for His purposes.
And for it, the creation, to be intelligible one must seek to understand God as well. Its key elements are:
3) theory; and
4) law (see Flow Diagram of Process).
Applying science, religion, and philosophy to Noah’s Flood
It should be noted that in the standard Scientific Method there is a process of experimentation which involves some sort of action or dynamic processing of the objects being observed. Static objects can be classified and this is a part of the scientific field of knowledge, but it has little value to the development of technology and the testing of its properties. As this relates to the Noah Flood Account the Scientific Method cannot be strictly applied to it, i.e. to completely verify or to discredit it. It is a past event not able to be fully tested empirically by present technology. And even if the expansive technology were available it would not entirely disprove or prove it as it has been stated to have occurred once in the past. This is the problem with past unique events. It is the same issue with the events of the creation.36
One can use experimentation to develop theories regarding the ways the stratified earth may have formed, but they will never be definitive. Thus, when certain scientists talk of billions of years to form the universe and the earth, and the long struggle for the increasing complexity of life seen on this earth they are incorporating more than the scientific method and its results in making those sorts of statements. As a contrast to their views there are many pieces of physical information that are very supportive of a young age of the earth, and of a rapid strata buildup around the earth due to a massive floody catastrophe.37 Yet, neither view can be definitively proven by the Scientific Method. Thus, the Noah Flood Account is supported by many pieces of scientific information, but it is not strictly proven in an empirical sense. However, it can be said that there are physical properties of the earth that are consistent with the residua, from The Flood. These include, among others, what appear to be water layered strata throughout (at least 70-80%) the entire crustal earth, massive deposits of crushed animals and plants within those strata, and radiometric readings that give similar ages for deep and superficial stratified layers.38
The Scientific Method is only one source of assessing the realities of life and human existence. There are other sources of information, in other domains of philosophy. Eye witness reports, including the concept of a True Narrative Representation,39 are important sources of information especially when the event was a singular unique one. The TNR analyses can be used to explore the Noah Flood account. One aspect of this linguistic technique incorporates the Scientific Method, but there are the other parts that deal with the expression of language. Within these facets truthfulness, the descriptive quality of the words used, and the cohesiveness of the process being involved must be assessed. In the Noah Flood account words are used which are consistent with the antiquity of the text, ones which give the impression of a person actually viewing the event(s), e.g. Noah’s conversations with God, releasing the doves, the counting of the days, specific dimensions of the ark, etc. The acceptance of his account is found throughout the entire Bible by many different authors, and it is consistent with accounts found throughout most the tribes and groups of people of the earth.40 Yet, it does not have some of the fantastical properties or vagueness of those other accounts, e.g. it gives a very time specific sequence to the events, a start and finish. It is a logical document in that it has a very plausible time sequencing to the sub-events described in it, and the boat is of proper dimensions (in contrast to other non-biblical accounts).
Finally, it refers to a Being that is outside of time and space. God spoke with Noah. The account gives explanations for the effects of sin and its consequences which can still be felt today. It reveals or explains ultimate purposes. These subjects are outside the direct domains of either science or philosophy (as they are from a direct revelation from God). It is within the domain of religion and all mankind partakes of religion whether he or she acknowledges it. Man worships whether it is with God included or without him. What one relies upon becomes their religion.
Thus, Science roughly functions within the realm of the physical, Philosophy in that of the mind, and Religion in the realm of the spirit (see Venn Diagram of the overlap of Religion, Science, and Philosophy).
The interfacing of Religion, Science and Philosophy as demonstrated on a Venn Diagram
There would be those who would deny the realm of the spirit, but that does not exclude it, and many things happen in life that cannot be explained by science or philosophy. Human testimony, a valid form of evidencing, from large numbers of humans throughout written history testifies to the interaction of humans with spirit beings. That other humans state that this does not occur does not invalidate the testimony.
Problems arise when scientists, theologians and others mix their views of religion, philosophy, and science without acknowledging the contribution of each to those views. Most secular humanistic or naturalistic believers will not admit their religious views, often for prideful or political reasons.41 Many will attempt to justify the public teaching of naturalistic science to the exclusion of mentioning a creation concept; justifying it as science vs. religion. This is a false division.42
When some researchers, claiming a religious belief, have attempted to interface science and religion, there also appears to be an imbalance with science being given the pre-eminence. H. Drummond stands as an example in the 1800s43, F. Collins44,45 and H. Ross46 are current examples. There is of course the whole field of “Creationist” scientists who also attempt to interface the scriptures with science, with science more subjugated to the principles of the scriptures.47 I am of that general position.Yet it must be stressed that all scientists, philosophers, and theologians bring a religious view to whatever they develop, propound, and teach.
It is the opinion of this author, JGL, that the Noah Flood account is adequately understood as a True Narrative Representation when the realms of religion, philosophy, and science are applied correctly. Its description is most consistent with a worldwide flood event. Those who oppose it as a reliable eye witness account must do so based on their own biased views, and whatever arguments they muster, but it (the Noah Flood Account) cannot be strictly disproven, and the available physical evidence weighs heavily in its favor (to use common vernacular). It is interesting to note that the scriptures declare that God will never flood the earth again as He did then, and it has not happened (Gen. 9:12–17). The next event, per the scriptures, will be one of fire (2Peter 3:10). As well, from the writings of 2 Peter 3:5–10 it becomes obvious that the Creation narrative, Noah flood narrative, and the Prophecy of a coming judgment of fire are all inter-connected, and of worldwide impact/consequences.
- J. Leslie, Defending the Faith in the Last Days (Transforming Christian Worldview of Religion, Philosophy, and Science) (Gallup: self-publish, 2000). J.G Leslie. Return to text.
- This article listed quotations from many evolutionists that drew a line between the science of evolution and religion— a point to which this author strongly disagrees. Please note that in the title the wording is Evolution Theory. This is a term which this author no longer uses, as it is not a theory but a worldview and this will be discussed below. See J. G. Leslie and C.K. Pallaghy, “The Religious Nature of Evolution Theory and its Attack on Christianity,” Creation 7(4):42–48, (1985). Return to text.
- F. Collins, a professed Christian, in defending his views
on “theistic evolution” does attempt to discuss science and religion
in his text. He stated on page 202–203, “There are many subtle variations
of theistic evolution, but a typical version rests upon the following premises.”
He then listed six: 1) universe 14 billion years old, 2) universe tuned for life,
3) origin of life not known but once started the process of evolution and natural
selection permitted the development of biological diversity, 4) once started no
supernatural intervention needed, 5) apes have common ancestor with humans, and
6) humans unique because of the existence of Moral Law and our search for God. “If
one accepts these six premises, then an entirely plausible, intellectually satisfying,
and logically consistent synthesis emerges, God, who is not limited in space or
time, created the universe and established natural laws that govern it. Seeking
to populate this otherwise sterile universe with living creatures, God chose the
elegant mechanism of evolution to create microbes, plants, and animals of all sorts
… . Unfortunately, many of the nouns and adjectives that could describe the
rich nature of this synthesis (of theistic evolution and a belief in God) are already
freighted with so much baggage as to be off-limits. Should we coin the term ‘crevolution’?
Probably not. And one dare not use the words ‘creation,’ ‘intelligent,’
‘fundamental,’ or ‘designer,’ for fear of confusion. We
need to start afresh. My modest proposal is to rename theistic evolution as Bios
through Logos, or simply BioLogos. Scholars will recognize bios as the Greek word
for ‘life’ (the root word for biology, biochemistry, and so forth),
and logos as the Greek for ‘word.’ To many believers, the Word is synonymous
with God, as powerfully and poetically expressed in those majestic opening lines
of the gospel of John, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God’ (John 1:11). ‘BioLogos’ expresses
the belief that God is the source of all life and life expresses the will of God.”
He goes on to lament that this view has not been accepted by many because they lack
an understanding of it.
While I applaud Dr. Collins desire to express his faith, many fine scientists oppose his views of theistic evolution—on both sides of the coin, but that is not a matter of attention for this article. I only quote him as one who has tried to inter-relate his faith and his views of science. It saddened me to read his book as it appeared to me that he compromised the grandness of the Bible to fit current perceptions of the genetic code. His redefining terms, i.e. BioLogos, will not redefine the debate. His views directly impact how the Noah Flood account can be perceived, understood, and its implications. F. Collins, The Language of God, (New York, NY: Free Press, 2006). Return to text.
- W.C.B., “On the Objections Commonly Urged Against the Holy Bible,” in The Publications of the American Tract Society Vol. 3, (New York: American Tract Society, 1830), 1–40. Return to text.
- Jastrow commented, “No scientist can ever answer that question [how the universe began]; we can never tell whether the Prime Mover willed the world into being, or the creative agent was one of the familiar forces of physics … .” He goes on to say that, “I think part of the answer is that scientists can’t bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money.” Yet amazingly he then admitted that this view was a form of religion in science [naturalistic]. This will be discussed further. Quote from: R. Jastrow et al., God and the Astronomers (New York: NY, 1978), 12;113–116. As well, it should be noted that the creation event is connected to the flood event as regards to any interpretation of the geology of the earth. Return to text.
- In the chapter on Analytic Philosophy, Sahakian stated, “Its adherents contend that the entire business of philosophy is that of analysis. As such, philosophy is devoid of content in the sense that it does not add to the scope of scientific knowledge, but instead consists of linguistic activity designed to eliminate problems and perplexities arising from intellectual confusion or misunderstanding and thus to clarify the knowledge which we already possess. It is no longer to be the task of philosophy to search for ultimate or metaphysical truth … . During the past several decades the new point of view has dominated the British philosophical scene and has had considerable influence in the United States as well.” Per this author, there are other definitions, but this has become a prominent view. W.S Sahakian et al., History of Philosophy (New York, NY: Barns and Noble Books, 1968), 307. Return to text.
- This author stated, “Are there any questions left for the philosopher [as it appears science has been so successfully developed] to answer? There certainly are. Roughly speaking, the philosopher deals with those questions that the scientist either does not answer or cannot answer.” He gave the example of the artistic qualities of a painting vs. the process of painting it. Then he stated, “Similarly, if we perform an experiment and write up the results, we are acting as scientists. But when we discuss the general problems involved in experimentation, we are writing about Science. What are the problems that scientists do not write about (unless, of course, they happen to be acting as Philosophers)? They include discussions on the scientific method, on the concepts and basic assumptions of Science, its subject matter and its limitations, what it makes use of and what it is used for in turn. In general, it is an attempt to give a unified picture of the nature of Science.“ Kemeny, J. G., A Philosopher Looks at Science (Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc, 1961), x. Interestingly, He makes no mention of the interplay of religion with both science and philosophy. Return to text.
- Tillich stated, “Man’s ethical and social existence in the Bible is based on his religious existence. The biblical word for religious existence is ‘faith’ … . Faith is the concern about our existence in its ultimate ‘whence’ and ‘whither.’ It is a concern of the whole person; it is the most personal concern and that which determines all others.” P. Tillich, Biblical Religion and the Search for Ultimate Reality (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1955, fifth impression 1963), 51. Return to text.
- Agnosia means “without knowledge”. Return to text.
- “Sir Julian Huxley (related to T.H. Huxley), stated in 1961, ‘Evolutionary man can no longer take refuge from his loneliness by creeping for shelter into the arms of a divinized father-figure whom he has himself created … .to sum up, and belief in supernatural creators, rulers, or influencers of natural or human process introduces an inseparable split into the universe, and prevents us from grasping its real unity.’” Quoted in: Leslie, J.G. and C.K. Pallaghy, “The Religious Nature of Evolution Theory and its Attack on Christianity,” Creation 7(4) (1985):43–48. Original reference: Huxley, J.S. “The Humanist Frame”, in The Humanist Frame, J.S. Huxley (ed.), (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1965) pp. 19, 40. Return to text.
- On page 249 the dictionary states regarding religion, “A system of faith and worship” and on 127 regarding faith it states that is an, “object of belief; creed; fidelity; promise given.” Please note that the concept of God is not mentioned in the definitions. Webster’s Common School Dictionary, 1867. Return to text.
- In talking about evolution Huxley stated, “I find myself inevitably driven to use the language of religion. For the fact is that all this does add up to something in the nature of a religion: perhaps one might call it Evolutionary Humanism. The word religion is often used restrictively to mean belief in gods; but I am not using it in this sense—I am using it in a broader sense, to denote an overall relation between man and his destiny, and one involving his deepest feelings, including his sense of what is sacred.” J. Huxley et al., Evolution in Action (New York: Mentor Books, 1958), 132. Return to text.
- Lehninger wrote, “Philosophers once answered that living organisms are endowed with a mysterious and divine life-force. But this doctrine, called vitalism, has been rejected by modern science, which seeks rational and, above all, testable explanations of the natural phenomena.” A.L Lehninger, Principles of Biochemistry (New York: Worth Publishers, 1982), 5. Quoted in: J. Leslie and C.K. Pallaghy, “The Religious Nature of Evolution Theory and Its Attack on Christianity,” (1984). A fuller explanation of this debate is given there. Return to text.
- It must be stated that to decide to disbelieve in a non-material substance is not the same as proving it not true. Clearly, mankind is affected by a dimension that cannot be measured in a test tube—even the concept of the soul is inadequately addressed by science. Return to text.
- NASB Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Return to text.
- Watchman Nee, Spiritual Man (Christian Fellowship Publishers, 1968). Return to text.
- Tillich (1955): 3, 21. In clarifying a correct understanding of religion he stated, “They forgot that revelation must be received and that the name for the reception of revelation is ‘religion.’ … . The term ‘biblical religion’ stands for two things: divine revelation and human reception.” Return to text.
- Huxley stated, “I use the word ‘Humanist’ to mean someone who believes that man is just as much a natural phenomenon as an animal or plant; that his body, mind and soul were not supernaturally created but are products of evolution, and that he is not under the control or guidance of any supernatural being or beings, but has to rely on himself and his own powers.” J. Huxley, American Humanist Association Brochure; quoted in H.M. Morris, That Their Words May Be Used Against Them (Green Forest AR: Master Books, Inc, 1997), 392. Return to text.
- In Luke 17:26–29 the attitude of people at the time of the Coming of Christ, a second time, will be as before the Noah Flood. Yet the “gospel of the kingdom” will be preached in the whole earth and then the end will come, so that most if not all will have heard about the Noah Flood (Mathew 24:14). The Flood Account has already gone out into all cultures—regardless of the purity of transmission. See BC. Nelson, The Deluge Story In Stone, Bethany Fellowship, Inc., Publishers, Minneapolis, MN, (1931, 7th reprint 1968), table pg. 169. Return to text.
- On page 178 regarding knowledge the dictionary states, “Clear perception; information; cognizance; learning;” page 315 regarding understanding, “Knowledge; interpretation; the intellectual powers; intellect; judgment; sense.” and on page 332 regarding wisdom, “Knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it; prudence; sagacity.” Webster’s Common School Dictionary, 1867th ed., s.v. “Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom.” In practical usage the concepts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom intertwine as such: knowledge is composed of the basic facts (observations), understanding is the correct assimilation of those facts within the context of other information (in a sense a type of indexing), and wisdom is the correct application of the facts. Return to text.
- Tillich (1963):5, 8, 13, 61–62. In defining philosophy Tillich stated, “Yet philosophy, ‘love of wisdom,’ means much more than this … . Philosophy is that cognitive endeavor in which the question of being is asked.” On page 13 he said, “The search for ultimate reality beyond everything that seems to be real is the search for being-itself, for the power of being in everything that is. It is the ontological question, the root question of every philosophy.” He went on to define being and nonbeing. He said, “and everyone experiences being when he encounters beings: persons, things, events, essences. And everyone participates in nonbeing and experiences it in disintegration and in death, in guilt and in doubt. It is this concrete situation in which the philosopher searches for ultimate reality.” Return to text.
- See science for definition of induction, deduction, and reduction. Return to text.
- Comte, A, A General View of Positivism (London, Trubner and Co, 1865). Return to text.
- Huxley in reviewing Hume’s philosophy regarding the interfacing of soul and body stated, “If, as has been set forth in the preceding chapter, all mental states are effects of physical causes, it follows that what are called mental faculties and operations are, properly speaking, cerebral functions, allotted to definite, though not yet precisely assignable, parts of the brain.” David Hume, in Essays, ed. T. H. Huxley (New York, NY: D. Appleton and Co., 1896), 104. Return to text.
- He deals with several different groups but Spiritism and the Theosophical Society would fit as New Age. W. Martin, Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, MN: , 1965, eleventh printing 1972), 199–212.W. Martin, Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, MN.: Zondervan, 1965, eleventh printing 1972). Return to text.
- W. Martin, The New Cults (Santa Ana, CA: Vision House, 1980). Return to text.
- The canonical Bible. Return to text.
- This author stated on page 12, “Nature means practically
the part of the world which man regards as external to himself. Accordingly it is
suggested that science should be defined as that branch of pure learning which is
concerned with the properties of the external world of nature. Its business is to
find out accurately what those properties are … . to interpret them, and
to make them intelligible to man; On the other hand, science will not, on this view,
be concerned with anything distinctively human; it will not consider human thoughts
and actions, ask what those thoughts and actions are, or examine and criticize them
… . There are difficulties in accepting it [this definition].” On page 27
he redefines science to include, “I propose to reject that definition of science
[as mentioned above]. In its place I propose to put another … . This definition
is: Science is the study of those judgments concerning which universal agreement
can be obtained … . It is the fact that there are things concerning which
universal agreement can be obtained which gives rise to our belief in an external
world, and it is the judgments which are universally agreed upon which are held
to give us information about the world.”
“Nature” and “external world” represent inferences from the judgments he considered. He goes on to say, “Nature is not sensations or judgments concerning which there is agreement; it is something we infer from such sensations and judgments. And this inference may be wrong.” On page 28 he continues, “It is true that the popular belief in the external world is founded primarily upon the fact of agreement about sensations; but, in deciding what part of our experience is to be referred to that external world, common sense does not adhere at all strictly to the criterion on which that belief is ultimately based.” He gives an example of a book dropping in the room where he was sitting alone. There would be no way to have universal agreement that it had occurred. Thus he argues, “Accordingly, in defining science as the study of judgments concerning which universal agreement can be obtained, we are limiting science to judgments which affect action and deliberately excluding matters which, though they may actually be the subject of universal agreement, do not affect action.” I think here he is arguing for directly observed testing of the physical properties of matter. If so, this would probably exclude the historical sciences that were not directly observed and recorded by several independent sources and/or were not reproducible. N. Campbell et al., What is Science (New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1921; reprint 1953), 11; 27–29. Return to text.
- There are those who have advocated that human emotions, e.g. can be reduced to simple chemical reactions that occur at certain sound frequencies or light wavelengths e.g. B.F. Skinner). This is an abductio ad absurdum. There has been no reasonable assumption or empirical basis for this sort of idea. In another example, this is true even if “pithing” a frog’s brain makes its leg move etc. All this confirms, in my opinion, is the complex mechanical/chemical structure of the living organism’s body. Return to text.
- Kepler whose work had a profound effect on planetary motion stated, “But since the first light eight months ago, since broad day three months ago, and since the sun of my wonderful speculation has shone fully a very few days ago: nothing holds me back. I am free to give myself up to the sacred madness. I am free to taunt mortals with the frank confession that I am stealing the golden vessels of the Egyptians, in order to build of them a temple for my God, far from the territory of Egypt. If you pardon me, I shall rejoice; if you are enraged, I shall bear up. The die is cast, and I am writing the book-whether to be read by my contemporaries or by posterity matters not. Let it await its reader for a hundred years, if God Himself has been ready for His contemplators for six thousand years.” He and many others of his time combined their worship of God with their study of the physical universe. J. Kepler, Harmonies of the World Book 5, ed. S. Hawking (Philadelphia, PA: Running Press, 2002), 3. Return to text.
- Pearcey and Thaxton commented, “To say that the order of creation can be grasped by human intelligence is to say that it is intelligible. Yet there may be differing ideas of what kind of order and what kind if intelligibility the world exhibits … . Consider first the Aristotlelian concept of intelligibility. Aristotelian logic understood natural objects on the model of man-made artifacts. An artifact like a chair or a saucepan can be analyzed as a material substratum arranged according to the guiding principle of a rational goal or purpose (the Aristotelian Form). Indeed, what defines the object is not the material base but the purpose … . The same logic was applied to nature. For the Aristotelian nature consists of matter structured by purposes, essences, Forms. The scientist best understands a natural object by asking what it is for … . Thus Aristotelian science tended to stress rational intuition of purposes or Forms followed by deduction, rather than observation and experiment … . In its extreme form, Aristotelianism held ‘that the ultimate rational causes of things in God’s mind could be discovered by the human reason; and Aristotle had in fact discovered those causes, so that the universe must necessarily be so instituted as he had described it, and could not be otherwise.’ It was this notion of necessity constraining even God Himself that the voluntarists objected to. In contrast, they emphasized God’s omnipotence and His freedom to create the world according to His own purposes, by His sovereign commands … . Robert Boyle echoed the themes of voluntarist theology as well, referring to God as the ‘free establisher of the laws of motion’ and noting that these laws ‘depend perfectly on his will.’ He spoke of God’s creatures as ‘the limited and arbitrary productions of his power and will,’ formed not by any independent rational agency within creation but by ‘God’s immediate fiat.’ … . As Kaiser explains, for Copernicus ‘the laws of nature are not intrinsic and cannot be deduce a priori; rather they are imposed or infused by God’ and can only be known a posteriori, through empirical investigation … . We see that the conviction that the world is contingent-its order imposed rather than inherent– provided a powerful justification for the experimental method of science.” Pearcey, N.R. and C.B. Thaxton, The Soul of Science Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), 30–33. Return to text.
- It can be argued that because to many the gods could be unpredictable, the events and experiences of their lives were too. Thus while practical alchemy, i.e. the hap-hazard mixing of compounds, was done and some descriptions of nature made, there was no organized exploration of the characteristics of nature by what we now call the experimental method. Nature was not considered that predictable, as the gods were not predictable. With the Judeo-Christian view of God as a real consistent being who did and does interpose into mankind’s lives, and who is willing to teach them truth came a hope that the physical world could be explored and understood. It is well founded that the history of modern scientific exploration was founded by God-fearing scientists. They had a hope to pursue knowledge which was based in an awareness of God’s love for them and the gift of faith to pursue the hope (of understanding the physical universe). As Kepler said that he was thinking God’s thoughts after Him. Return to text.
- “Scientific Method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method if inquiry must be based on gathering observable empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypothesis … . Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable in order to dependably predict any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently-derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure.” Wikipedia, ed., s.v. “Scientific Method.”, http://en.wikipedia.org/ (accessed Feb. 27, 2010). Return to text.
- This author commented that it was Galileo’s dropping of the two different weighted spheres from the Leaning Tower of Pisa in 1591 that was the onset of the modern scientific method. H. Butterfield, The Origins of Modern Science (Great Britain: The Free Press, 1957, reprint 1965), 93. Galileo, while he was persecuted by the Catholic Church for some of his views, was a devote believer in God. See H. Morris Men of Science Men of God. Return to text.
- H. Morris, Men of Science, Men of God (Master Books, 1982). Return to text.
- He stated, “No scientist can answer that question; we can never tell whether the Prime Mover willed the world into being, or the creative agent was one of the familiar forces of physics; for the astronomical evidence proves that the universe was created twenty billion years ago in a fiery explosion, and in the searing heat of that first moment, all the evidence needed for a scientific study of the cause of the great explosion was melted down and destroyed.” R. Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (NY and London: W.W. Norton and Co, 1978), 12. He thus argued that the elements of the initial forms of matter were destroyed at the formation of the universe. Thus while he is not a “creationist” he recognized that he was unable to give a testable explanation for the event. Unfortunately, his premise (bias) also limits God’s presence to the physical universe, nor does he understand that science cannot absolutely prove such a past event. Return to text.
- See Dr. A. Snelling’s book, “Earth’s Catastrophic Past”, ICR, Dallas, TX (2009) in 2 volumes. There are many other volumes by other scientists as well. Return to text.
- Ibid reference 37, Chapter 63–67; 68; and 106. Return to text.
- J. W. Oller and others have developed a technique to analyse whether a narrative story has the consistency of a true account. They break down the analysis into 3 components: 1) Determinancy-does the story use recognizable and realistic nouns and adjectives; 2) Connectedness-is there a logical time sequence pattern to the story, and 3) Generalizability-can the event be reproduced or if it was a single unique one is there residual evidence from it. From: Oller, J.W., Oller, S.D., and L.C. Badon, Milestones Normal Speech and Language Development Across the Life-Span, Plural Publishing, San Diego, (2006). Return to text.
- Ibid, BC. Nelson, 1931. Return to text.
- One only needs to look at the writings of T.H. Huxley and J. Huxley (some quotes in this dissertation). Return to text.
- Morris clearly demonstrated the religious qualities of “secular or naturalistic” science (justified by evolutionary paradigms). But he also referred to more nefarious scheming related to the post French revolution waves of anti-monarchism. He quoted Marton on page 101, “Paley’s doctrine was required study in the universities, and was the received wisdom in society. There was only one way to reform Parliament, and that was to destroy Paley’s Natural Theology– and the only way to do that was to discredit the catastrophist notions of its religious defenders who sought to reconcile the geological evidence with the story of Genesis … . If the scientific evidence denied the truth of the Bible, then it also denied any connection between God and the Monarchy, thus freeing Parliament and the people to redefine the political equations.” The book of Genesis was the target of this political movement. H.M Morris, The Long War Against God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989, 4th printing 1991), 101. Return to text.
- On pages xviii-xx Drummond stated, “I can scarcely now say whether in those moments I was more overcome with thankfulness that Nature was so like Revelation, or more filled with wonder that Revelation was so like Nature … . But now that Science has made the world around articulate, it speaks to Religion with a twofold purpose. In the first place it offers to corroborate Theology, in the second to purify it … . Science, therefore, may yet have to be called upon to arbitrate at some points between conflicting creeds … . No man can study modern Science without a change coming over his view of truth. What impresses him about Nature is its solidarity. He is there standing upon actual things, among fixed laws. And the integrity of the scientific method so seizes him that all other forms of truth begin to appear comparatively unstable.” He does go on to say that science cannot overthrow Faith, but he promoted theistic evolution. The point here is that he implied that science could actually be a referee (to arbitrate) over scripture. This is much different than saying that it can color in or give evidence of that already demonstrated in the scriptures. H. Drummond, Spiritual Law in the Natural World (New York: WM. L. Allison Co, 1896), xviii–xx. Return to text.
- Collins stated, “It’s also now been possible to compare our DNA with that of many other species. The evidence supporting the idea that all living things are descended from a common ancestor is truly overwhelming … . I believe that God used the mechanism of evolution to achieve that goal.” His views are in plain contradiction to the early chapters of Genesis. F. Collins, “God Is Not Threatened by Our Scientific Adventures,” interview by Laura Sheahen (August 2006), Beliefnet, www.beliefnet.com/ (accessed 9/18/2010). Return to text.
- On page 200 Collins summarized his concept of theistic evolution: 1) universe 14 billion years old; 2) universe precisely “tuned for life”; 3) origin of unknown; 4) present life developed through evolution and natural selection; 5) “once evolution got underway, no supernatural intervention was required”; 6) humans and apes share common ancestry; 7) human nature, i.e. use of the moral law, cannot be explained by evolution; nor is the search for God explained by evolution. F.S Collins, The Language of God (New York, NY: Free Press, 2006), 200. Return to text.
- Ross is a well known scientist who has advocated a progressive creation of life forms, with man being created after the “hominids”. He stated on page 160, “While bipedal, tool-using, large-brained hominids roamed the earth at least as long ago as one million years, evidence for religious relics and altars dates back only 8,000 to 24,000 years. Thus, the secular anthropological date for the first spirit creatures is in complete agreement with the biblical date.” H. Ross, The Fingerprint of God (Orange, CA: Promise Publishing Co, 1989), 160. Return to text.
- Morris in the forward commented, “Scientific inquiry depends upon the premise that there is order in the universe. If this premise were not true, science would be meaningless. Implicit in this premise is the corollary that our experience bears a true relationship to the orderliness of the universe-the word of experience is meaningful. The order premise and its corollary, however, require a leap of faith which science cannot avoid making. Without this act of faith, science as an activity cannot be done and as a body of knowledge cannot exist … . If there is a God, such as the God of the Bible, who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere at all times and throughout eternity, the faith of science has a basis. There is reason to believe in the order premise. Otherwise, without an intelligent creator, the orderliness of the universe remains a total mystery. There can be no sufficient basis for believing that such order actually exists and is not illusory. Moreover, if such a God exists, it follows that trusting Him is a reasonable course of action. Not trusting Him is unreasonable … .Evolutionary humanism, masquerading as science, is often held out as a ‘scientific’ stronghold in which man can take refuge, but God assessed it and found it wanting long ago: Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hide ourselves; Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste (Isa. 28:15–16).” … . Morris then commented on page 21 “The Bible authors claim to have written the very Word of God, and it has been accepted as such by multitudes of intelligent people down through the centuries. This is of greater truth today than ever in the past, and there are now thousands of qualified scientists around the world who quite definitely believe in the full verbal inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. It is absurd for anyone to say that ‘science’ has disproved the Bible. The Bible is indeed a book of science, as well as a book of history, literature, psychology, economics, law, education, and every other field. It does not use the technical jargon of particular disciplines, of course, but speaks in the universal language of human experience. As the Word of God, it is altogether ‘profitable’ … . ‘that the man of God may be perfect.’ (2 Tim. 3:16–17), meeting every need, either by direct instruction on specific subjects or by broad guidance in research and decision making … . We are living in a ‘scientific age’ … (which) can be a danger as well as a blessing to mankind. Not only has the arrogance of the so-called scientific mind tended to subvert religious faith and confidence in the Scriptures, but is also threatening civilization with its nuclear armaments, environmental pollutants, biochemical weaponry, genetic manipulations, and other products of scientific research. The modern world is desperately in need of God’s own wisdom with respect to the purpose and meaning of true science.” In: H.M. Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984). Morris throughout his public life argued effectively against evolution in all its forms, including theistic evolution. Return to text.
I like your Venn diagram. Makes it simple!
This is an excellent article, and I'll be passing it on to many people. I appreciate the way you essentially described what a world view consists of and how it relates, oftentimes subconsciously for many people, to our reaction to/assessment of, various subjects, issues, etc. I think passing the article on to start a discussion about how religion/science/philosophy overlap in general would be a clever way to discuss Christianity specifically – a great tool. Thanks!
Just another "proof" of the Noah story, a Hollander has built an exact replica of Noah's Ark, It stands on a canal in Holland, and it could take in all the animals in 2's. I have heard of another ark, I think in the USA. So Noah could have built it, and used it to carry out the Will of the Creator YHVH.
This article was well done and discussion/evaluation of its theme(s) is badly needed among professing believers and the church. We need to redefine what a worldview actually is and hold the philosophers and scientists to our definition and not theirs. In my humble opinion this is the broad outline.
All human beings must have a belief system, aka a religion since we are not omniscient. Belief systems fall into 3 broad categories; theistic, atheistic and agnostic. Our thinking must begin on/with a set of unprovable starting assumptions thru which our observations are interpreted. We all begin with the same evidence but differing worldviews (starting assumptions) will result in vastly different interpretations. So our struggle is not religion vs. science or philosophy but starting assumptions vs. starting assumptions. The ultimate question is therefore who has the true set of consistent, coherent and immutable starting assumptions! For the biblical theist the propositions of Scripture provide our starting point(s).
A great article. Applying science, religion, and philosophy together when checking the truth of any claims and theories would have to give a far more accurate and valid assessment, since the claims are thoroughly tested in three different realms at the same time.
When science, religion, and philosophy are applied to a major aspect of evolution, namely, the idea of “the survival of the fittest” as having operated as a general principle throughout time, it can be shown to be false, because it contradicts all of known history.
In reality, the strong and fit die and the weak and sick go on living, or, the weak and sick die and the strong and fit go on living.
Historically, it has gone either way with “survival of the fittest” generally having had nothing to do with it.
"The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favour to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.
For man does not know his time:
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
When it suddenly falls upon them." Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12
In reference to comment by Peter H. about whether the Bible is the only sacred text that can be verified with the Oller outline. Our church had a guest who is involved in archeology (name escapes me) who stated that the Bible is unique in that it displays the losses as well as the victories of the Jewish nation. The Egyptians and the Assyrians built their steles with propaganda purposes; they NEVER lose any battles...to the point that a particular battle between the Hittites and the Egyptians was commemorated by both nations as a resounding victory against their foe. He also mentioned that not only did the timing match up well, but that the vocabulary in the Bible matched the appropriate historical era, and sometimes with an amazing degree of precision. His first example was that of Abraham traveling to the region of Sichem while his grandson Jacob was able to go to the city of Sichem. Again, as per my notes of the sermon, this matches with external history sources. Again, he commented that archeology can provide arguments in favor or against certain theories but proof is not to be expected. Another more famous archeologist Yamauchi detailed some of the limitations to archeology. Archeologists have listed many sites of interest to examine and have barely scratched the surface, this, plus the fact that most of the artifacts did not survive to present day (and the literature in even smaller amounts!) means that the unknown far exceeds the known when we deal with the past. Still, it is exciting to see how frequently the Bible is found to be fully accurate with the scraps of information that did survive and have now been found.
I wondered whether it is only the Bible that passes Oller's technique [as per ref 39 ] or might some other sacred writings also hold up. I tried a similar argument online once and was told that others are attested to by reference to dates and locations. Of course I can't verify the honesty of the posters claiming this.
Thankyou for a very helpful article.
Oller's technique is applicable to all testimonies, historical statements etc. He is a well known linguist and his main book is called Milestones Normal Speech and Language Development Across the Life Span. But his writings regarding the True Narrative Representation (TNR) appear in papers. I review these concepts in my dissertation (see the methods section): www.defendingthechristianfaith.org/dissertations-of-john-g-leslie.html View the one regarding the Noah Flood Account as a True Narrative Representation.
Initially, I found myself thinking that I would have considered religion and philosophy as synonymous. Then I realized that your three circles begin to make sense once I consider "religion" as being "revealed knowledge". Using revealed knowledge plus the scientific method, we can reason (or philosophize) about life.
I wanted to note that I find reading the "fine print" of legal, tax documents, political statements to be tedious in the extreme. These "fine points" in the footnotes, I read carefully AND with profit!
I want to commend Dr Leslie for such a comprehensive overview of one of the vexing problems we face when dealing with this interface between faith and science. I learned much from the article (and footnotes).
This is the best, most concise, explanation of how these three realms interact I have ever read. I have noticed, in Scripture, that there is quite an overlap between the original meanings of the words translated mind, heart, soul, and life. And the word, revelation, implies that it isn't something from within our own minds but something that is given from outside of us--a removal of a veil so that we can see reality to some degree rather than seeing everything through the lens of our own opinions. Reading about how some scientific discoveries have come about, they have seemed to have been more on the order of a revelation of the nature of the material world than some sort of cold process without God. I would be interested in knowing how this fits in with the concepts found in this article.
Bob, thanks for your thoughts. I agree with what you have stated. All truth, correctly understood, must come by revelation from the Spirit of Truth whom is the Holy Spirit. There is no other source of true knowledge, understanding, or wisdom. And You mention "mind, heart, soul, and life." The Bible clearly teaches that man has a triune nature: spirit, soul, and body-1 Thess.5:23. It even compares Jesus and us to the temple of God John 2:19-21 and ICorinth. 6:19. I would encourage you to study the structure /function of the Temple to gain a better understanding of Jesus and our own triune nature. Alfred Edersheim and Paul F. Keene are good sources.
John G Leslie
I like the graph depicting the three main regions of religion, philosophy and science. However, I have troubles understanding why the intersection of all three is depicted as "World View". There are a number of "Word Views" that are solely described in the realm of religion, philosophy or science, or a combination of any two of these. Also, "World View" has the popular connotation of being anti-God or atheistic, be it right or wrong. A better term would be “Belief System”. I suppose you won’t agree but that’s OK. We can agree to disagree.
Thank you for your thoughts. My main point is that there is no way to have a worldview that does not incorporate the three realms, religion/philosophy/science, into our experience as human beings. All three are integral to each other. It is true that for some the circle science could be arranged as larger than religion, but in truth evolutionists are very religious. So how does one portray this. The Venn diagram is just a crude way to demonstrate that we are all affected by all three. 'Worldview' I think encapsulates more of what I was trying to portray than 'belief system' but either could be applied.