5 Ways Theology Speaks to Science

5 Ways Theology Speaks to Science February 24, 2015

clark bookIn To Know and Love God, David Clark outlines five “controversial” ways that theology could speak to the sciences (pp. 287-288):

1. “Christian theology gives an account of why the universe is orderly, why it is susceptible to mathematical interpretation, why it exists, and most fundamentally, why its existence matters.”

2. “Christian theology provides a metaphysical grounding of the rational justification of science. Theology explains why natural science is even possible as a rational enterprise.”

3. “Christian theology explains why science matters. Christian thinking accounts for the fact that we rightly consider the knowledge gained through science to be of value.”

4. “A growing minority voice says that theology can speak to science by guiding future research. This goes beyond providing metaphysical, rational, and axiological grounds for science. It means that religious views could suggest potentially profitable lines of scientific research.”

5. “Christians might use what they know theologically to assist in warranting one scientific theory over another.”

At the end of this section, he then notes, “Evangelical theology has nothing to fear and everything to gain from competent scientific practice that seeks to understand God’s world.”

I think these suggestions are helpful and true. Christians have certainly felt cold toward the sciences, building a “Darwin vs. Us” framework. But science is much bigger, and more useful, than primitive Darwinism. If the sciences reveal truths about God’s world, as Clark has noted, then we can approach them with a careful hope that we may learn something about God himself. Science, in a sense, shines much light on God’s general revelation. In fact, one could argue rightly that God is for, not against, our continual understanding of the intricacies of the universe.

The danger is, of course, allowing science to begin informing our theology too much. We all take presuppositions to the text of Scripture and to our attempts at doing theology, but science is today’s drug of choice, clouding our minds and blurring our vision. Modern science is an ever-evolving (pardon the pun) discipline that is only about 200 years old. It’s constantly changing and outdoing itself. Its subjectivity does not compete with the objective, authoritative truth given to us by God.

God wants us to take all things captive for Christ, including science where possible, and Satan wants us to idolize science in a way that blurs our view of God’s creative and sustaining power in the world. Our constant danger is to think that we ourselves hold all knowledge either a priori or a posteriori. We are reminded of a different truth from Scripture: “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness'” (2 Cor. 3:19).

In light of that, I might amend Clark’s conclusion a tad bit: we have certain things to fear and much to gain from competent scientific practice.

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