The highly publicized debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye was disappointing to many people on many levels. Both men spoke past each other to push their message instead of truly engaging over the substantive issues regarding faith and science.
When discussing these subjects, we could all benefit from more humility and honesty — on both sides of the debate. Scientists, for example, should be honest enough to acknowledge that he cannot test the philosophy that the physical world is a self-contained system of impersonal natural laws without any outside involvement from a God or a Creator. Honest scientists realize this but often face significant social consequences for admitting it.
Students should not be taught that philosophical naturalism is based on scientific research. When teachers suggest that the science of evolution leads to the philosophy of naturalism, they give students the misleading impression that science offers more than it is capable of telling us.
Church leaders must also be more circumspect when speaking on matters of science. I’ve heard plenty of religious leaders suggest that evolution is an enemy of God that contradicts the account of creation. This is a careless statement because it fails to distinguish the actual science of evolution from the philosophy or worldview of evolution being used to explain ultimate origins.
Church leaders also must be careful not to make the Genesis account say more than it does. The Bible does not require belief in a certain age for the earth and the Church should not make such an issue a test of orthodoxy. We need Church leaders and Science teachers to exemplify mutual respect and serve their students well by distinguishing the fields of faith and science.
Science is an amazing discipline that has resulted in both blessing and tragedy for humanity. Before the influences that came with postmodernity, science held the seat of authority in academia and much of culture. Postmodernity, however, increased the tensions between the science and the humanities departments in the academy regarding intellectual authority. Unfortunately, efforts to unseat science were not so much about the nature of truth itself as about advancing the modern demand for relativism. This is a subject deserving more attention.
I think we need more transparency about what science can and cannot do/prove. This will then require more honesty about ways that Theophobia has bound the academy to a philosophy of naturalism. I am troubled by the use of the tag “science” for what is really philosophy or religion.
When scientists claim that the physical world is a self-contained system of impersonal natural laws without any outside involvement from a God or a Creator, they should have enough intellectual integrity to admit that such an opinion is beyond the reach of science and belongs to the discipline of philosophy or even religion. It cannot even be offered as a “theory” because, in terms of science, this word implies a tested and proven postulations (which obviously can’t be done).
When scientists are willing to acknowledge the shift of categories on questions of ultimate origin, then we can have an honest debate about the data used to suggest the plausibility of the philosophy. This would also require more honesty and humility about the validity of discovering truth in disciplines outside of science. A valid epistemology is not bound by one discipline.
Truth about “how it all began” cannot be resolved in scientific labs, but faith offers a different kind of evidence on the subject. A helpful line from Scripture states that, “every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything” (Hebrews 3:4). Whether one visits a construction site or a nature site, the logic consistently demands the same conclusion.
The science of evolution is not meant to offer a “story” that parallels the biblical account of creation. It’s not that scientists cannot postulate on the subject based on assumptions or patterns. They can do this in the same way that the science of intelligent design postulates origins based on design.
When we confuse faith and science, we fail to respect what each one contributes. On the science end of the discussion, perhaps a better question to ask is whether the idea that the material universe is all there is, was, or ever will be is more rational than believing an intelligent being created the world.