Harmonizing science and Scripture?
‘Sophisticated’, well-meaning, but uninformed Christians can actually harm the cause
Originally published in a CMI newsletter, October 2014
Most weeks (yes, it is that often) we are advised about a new book that has a back cover blurb something like:
“This insightful book demonstrates there is no contradiction between science and Scripture.” Or, “This book reconciles the tensions between science and Scripture.”
Those descriptions are enough to already reveal the direction of the author.
Similarly, our speakers are often confronted by well-meaning Christians who excitedly share their ‘novel’ theory on how God created the universe during the big bang, and that because God’s time is not our time, the days of Genesis could be long periods of time (yes, as I write, I had this one only last week). The fact that such views continue to be perpetuated in the church means it still has not come to terms with the single greatest objection to the authority of Scripture—evolution and its associated age issue. Unfortunately, most people just blindly accept the ‘interpretations’ of secular scientists. And by secular, I mean that their desire is to explain all things naturalistically or materialistically (as in ‘matter is all there ever was or will be’—to quote evolutionist Carl Sagan).
Both creationists and evolutionists have the same facts; the same rocks, fossils and the same data to study. But the glaring blind spot in these well-meaning Christians is their failure to understand that there is nothing independently about these facts that can tell us about the age of the earth or the universe. Old ages are inferred because they have deferred to scientific interpretations that start outside the Bible and then use those interpretations to tell us what the Bible means!
Did God use a big bang?
Wrong hermeneutics creates massive internal inconsistencies in Scripture and also awful theological problems. For example, the ‘big bang’ is a loaded term that cannot be readily isolated from the evolutionary baggage that accompanies it. See the box on how the order of appearance in a big bang/long-age scenario completely contradicts Genesis 1. It undermines the integrity of Scripture.
|The Big Bang order of appearance (also for ‘progressive creation’)
|The order of appearance in Genesis 1
|1. Sun/stars existed before Earth
|1. Earth created before sun/stars
|2. Sun is Earth’s first light
|2. Light created before sun
|3. First life = marine organisms
|3. First life = land plants
|3. Reptiles pre-date birds
|4. Birds pre-date land reptiles
|5. Land mammals pre-date whales
|5. Whales pre-date land mammals
|6. Disease/death precede man
|6. Disease/death result from man’s sin
Even the deference to an ancient earth has similar problems. This is because the very concept of an earth billions of years old is based upon the belief that the many hardened, sedimentary rock layers in geologic formations worldwide were laid down and accumulated slowly over billions of years (instead of being the result of the global Flood of Noah’s time). The problem for old-earth and evolution-believing Christians is that most of these layers contain fossils. This is a massive record of death, disease, carnivory, tumors, broken bones and so on; things that biblically, would only have started to happen after the Fall of man and the entrance of sin and death (Romans 5:12, 8:20–22 ). In short, an old-earth belief (even minus evolution) violates the actual Gospel and the reason for Christ’s (the last Adam’s) substitutionary death on a cruel cross.
When we come across books or people with these novel ideas, they either caricature what creationists believe, or, when asked, have simply never bothered to read any creationist literature. One person said to me, “Why would I? The evidence for an old earth is overwhelming.” Not meaning to sound rude, but this is ‘willing ignorance’ (2 Peter 3:3–7) about the massive wealth of information available today to support what the Bible clearly says when it touches upon scientific matters in relation to earth’s past.
There is still a lot to do
Experience shows that many of these same well-meaning Christians, who try to reconcile evolution/millions of years with the Bible, represent the highest proportion of those who leave the faith, particularly our young ones. It is the slippery slope that leads to total unbelief.
And finally, in terms of using such ‘peaceful, tension-reducing’ compromised notions to reach others, how many come to the faith because they think they can add evolution or a big bang to the Bible? In all reality, do people tend to become convinced, believing disciples of Christ by not believing what the Bible clearly teaches? As atheistic evolutionary professor Richard Dawkins commented, those “sophisticated theologians [who] are quite happy to live with evolution—I think they’re deluded.” So, compromise does not win those who have only heard information for evolution and millions of years. But by helping them use the Bible as an interpretive filter, the world can start to make sense in terms of the Bible’s history—especially when dealing with some of life’s bigger questions of our mortality, and our meaning and purpose for life.