This post is part of a series walking through the third volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace
When we forget the “independence of spirit from matter”, we end in idolatry and atheism. (551) Neutrality is thus doomed from the start since it can never start with the truth of the spiritual world. The starting point of distrust then has to be balanced out by turning to the popular will.
“People attempt to recover what they thereby lose by locating their fulcrum in the consciousness of the prevailing majority.” (551-552)
This becomes the new ground of truth. And to be sure, the result is a kind of truth, but one that never goes very far without being considered outside the bounds of science. So we need to put science in its proper place, accounting for the foolishness of the world and the nature of true knowledge alike.
Obviously some science can be done by looking only at the material world. But this is only lower-order science and ignores the higher-order stuff like theology. This division into wisdom/foolishness has to do with higher sciences. What’s more, the difference fundamentally is between those who have received the Spirit and those who have not. The two scientists will be working from two different foundations. A second difference has to do with Scripture. Is it authoritative, or just a human tool? the latter ends with the destruction of Scripture all together.
Of course, the two points are connected. We must have Scripture to get the Spirit, and vice-versa. Common grace has done much, but particular grace is required for the true understanding of the greatest things. And yet, that true understanding itself is a part of common grace. Creation and its end is governed by Providence and the Noahic covenant, not by salvation. So here particular grace strengthens common grace. If all particular grace did was salvation, there could be no Christian science–or any theology, for that matter. But particular grace is broader than that. Besides, Scripture doesn’t draw a hard line here.
This doesn’t mean all Christians agree about science all the time. We have no infallible guide to science or to Scripture, so we all wander and stumble on this topic. This is not a bad, thing, and at times even shows the glorious diversity of creation. Even pre-sin this would have bene the case. Though even diverse believers stand opposed to the world, while bouncing between unity and diversity is what moves history forward. We see this even in the Christian traditions that dominate Europe which are tied to place and culture (as Calvinism is Dutch, for example).
More on science in the next chapter.