I received a copy of a book that I could not review intelligently. It is by Vern Poythress and it is on science and faith, so I asked my friend, RJS (a science professor at a research institution), if she’d like to review it. Here is her first installment. She’s got some good questions at the end.
1. Premise of the book and introduction of basic ideas:
Vern S. Poythress, Professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, has come out with a new book entitled Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach. With doctoral degrees in New Testament (University of Stellenbosch, 1981) and Mathematics (Harvard 1970), and a life-long interest in and appreciation for science, he is well qualified to discuss this topic. In fact it is apparent in this book that he has a solid understanding and enthusiasm for the scientific exploration and understanding of God’s creation.
Poythress starts with the statement “All scientists – including agnostics and atheists – believe in God. They have to in order to do their work (13).” This statement may surprise some, but arises from his foundational hypothesis that God is not to be confined to the gaps. Speaking of God, Poythress asserts that “According to the Bible he is involved in those areas where science does best, namely areas involving regular and predictable events, repeating patterns, and sometimes exact mathematical descriptions (14).” Belief in the reproducibility of nature, the universality of scientific laws, is either belief in the personal God responsible for those laws or idolatry – the substitution of devotion to the idol of impersonal naturalism in the place of God.
So some questions to consider here: What role or priority do we assign to special versus general revelation? Is it appropriate to assert that evolving understanding of general revelation (science) can guide our interpretation of the special revelation contained within scripture? Are the laws of nature, the laws of physics, a manifestation of the Word of God (John 1: 3) and thus reliable and authoritative?