Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Good Science--Good Theology

What would be the result of incorporating sound science teachings into the educational offerings of our churches? I do not merely speak of the use of a science reference or two in our church Sunday School, youth group, adult Sunday School discussions, or pulpit presentations. Rather, I propose a deliberate effort to strengthen and reinforce theological concepts using a science take-off dimension.

It is possible that such efforts may initially fail. Rightly, our congregations are conditioned to receive theological truths over scientific truths at the instructional level. Members of our churches believe they should be learning about God’s love for man and how we should respond in kind. They are conditioned to think of man as alienated from God by our fallen nature. The remedy for man’s alienation from God is provided by the atoning love gift of the death of the Son, we learn. We are instructed “Ye must be born again” as was Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night (John 3). After this eternal transaction we manifest new life, Scripture says. The New Testament epistles elaborate on the characteristics of new spiritual life.

Enthusiastic reception of the profound gospel message outlined above is the longed-for goal of every spiritual mentor. Many pastors acknowledge that quality of personal acquisition of saving faith is distributed along a broad continuum. Seekers’ experiences range from serious self-doubt to questioning hesitancy to joyful certainty. The highway to belief is not often paved smoothly. Human free will is a significant factor in personal reception of the gospel and practice of spiritual life. Pastors search for effective ways to communicate the gospel. Their goal is that their members establish a relationship with God and embrace his reality in order to satisfy  the fulfillment of humanity.

Recognizing our discussion is multidimensional, let us explore but one dimension—the dimension of science understanding as a support pillar for theological belief. The topic of origins is recognized in both secular and faith-based worlds as scientific. Secular scientists claim their evolutionary theory is scientific. Essentially, they claim biochemical genetic evidence of the commonality of all living things and the power of evolutionary inference settles the questions of common ancestry. The processes of evolution, therefore, do not affirm divine creation events, they state. They affirm naturalistic events. (Theistic evolutionists, now called “evolutionary creationists,” support their argument with the caveat “God is the Creator of all things.”)  But even secular, naturalistic scientists have no answer for the origin of life mystery. The sudden appearance of complex bacterial life on this earth has all the hallmarks of a divine creation event but naturalists and many theistic evolutionists search for a possible naturalistic explanation.

Naturalistic science leads to a different theological vision. Naturalistic scientists have a different interpretation of life origins than theistic creationists. Their science leads to divergent interpretations. Earth’s species are characterized by sudden appearances, minimal change during their tenure on earth, and disappearances. The many abrupt appearances of life on earth are difficult to explain naturalistically. Science has established the “fits and starts” nature of life’s appearances. Evidence of divine miracles as the work of the Creator is soundly affirmed by good science. Theistic creationists perceive ubiquitous creation events, from the origin of the universe, to the origin of life, to periodic creation events of novel phyla and species, including the many instances of orderly and predictable physical properties governing our universe and our daily lives. Our concept of the Creator who authored orderly physical laws and who created past and present life forms suddenly and by divine miracle should be cited by our spiritual mentors as a vital apologetic for theological belief. The Creator has gifted us with capacity to test the veracity of scientific conclusions.

Belief in God is supported by the discoveries of science. Why should we believe in God’s love for each human? Why should we believe the message of the gospel? If we recognize his omnipotence we ought also to recognize his ability to create in the physical realm and in the realm of human existence. His acts of creation are indicators of his care and love for man. When we affirm God’s love by appropriating belief in the scientific evidence of his existence based on the works he has produced. We acclaim that good science leads to good theology.