Reformed Reflections

The Pastor's Desk: 1989 - 1993


A lecture by Walt Brown, director of the U.S. Centre for scientific Creation, on evolution versus creation at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School in London, ON 1992, led to a heated debate among teachers and students. A biology teacher, who argued with Brown, remarked, "Creation is based on faith and evolution is based on science. I believe in evolution and I also believe in creation, but I keep my science and my faith separate." But can one separate science and faith? Is science a neutral, value free, activity? Is it totally objective? Don't faith and interpretation play a legitimate part in scientific research? One's faith determines one's interpretation of his research. What is this faith? John Boer, in his paper Science Without Faith is Dead, defines faith as "the deep-down commitment or set of beliefs that every person has stored away in his heart and which guides him in his activities." Our values, our ambitions, our view of human nature and our hopes influence our activities and decisions. No scientist investigates without any presuppositions. The researcher is also finite. He will never have all the necessary information at hand to make a complete objective assessment. How he views his discoveries determines the outcome of his conclusions. "Whichever way one turns in the debate about science," observes John Boer, "one runs into the ever-present role of faith, beliefs and assumptions that themselves have never been proven scientifically." Therefore it is not the question of science versus faith but which faith guides in your life and work. It is always a question of one faith versus another.

A Christian scientist approaches his work from his faith perspective. He investigates God's creation in obedience to the command already given to Adam in paradise. Science has its place in the development and dominion of the earth (Gen. 1:28; Gen.2: 15; Job 28: 9-11; Ps.8:7). God is still in control of His creation. His world is not chaotic but orderly.

A Scientist is also a steward of God's earth. He is not the owner. He is accountable for what he does. A Christian also knows that the human mind is influenced by sin. Therefore when he discusses his discoveries and their effects, he realizes that he only knows in part. The Bible will have a strong influence on his research work.

More and more scholars, whether Christian or not, are acknowledging that scientific inquiry can't pretend to be value free. Since science is not neutral, the question is which faith perspective does the scientist use. A Christian scientist submits his mind to Christ (2 Cor.10:5).

Johan D. Tangelder