Nov 212006

Few thoughts by Leonard R. Brand on relationship between science and religion, which I think, is quite relevant at present. I would appreciate your comments?

With Christianity there are many different attitudes toward the authority of the Scriptures, but this paper is built on a conviction that there are many lines of evidence indicating that the prophets do indeed speak for a loving and all-knowing God whom we can trust, and whose prophetic messages we can trust. Within that framework, an effective working relationship between science and revelation can result if we proceed through the following steps in our attempts to understand truth:

1. The accumulating data from scientific research suggest new ideas or hypotheses that we might not have thought of if the research had not been done.
2. If the new idea involves a subject that we think the Bible may speak about, we would examine all relevant Bible texts, comparing Scripture with Scripture, and using the Bible as its own interpreter. In doing so, it is important to make use of all the latest information that helps us to research a correct understanding of the original meaning of the words used in the biblical manuscripts. In this way, we attempt to understand exactly what the Bible does or does not say about our new idea. Is the idea compatible with the Bible or not? Do the relevant Bible statements say what we thought they said, or have we been incorrectly reading something between the lines?
3. We then make one of the following decisions, or some appropriate variation of one of these:
a. It is evident that revelation does not speak to this issue at all, and does not help us in our research.
b. We conclude that revelation does address this topic, but does not say anything against the new idea; there is no biblical reason not to accept it as a valid possibility. We then proceed with further scientific research to rigorously test it. This research may give us increased confidence in the idea, or it may lead to even better hypotheses which would also need to be compared with the Scriptures.
c. Our study indicates that revelation clearly contradicts the new idea, thus telling us to go back and do some more research because there is something wrong with our interpretation of the data.

If we follow this process, the Bible is maintained as the standard for religious doctrines, and yet science and the Bible shed light on each other. Science suggests ideas that may help us to recognize that we have been reading some preconceived idea into the Bible that really is not there. In other cases the Bible can help us to recognize incorrect scientific theories, so that we can turn our efforts toward developing more accurate interpretations of the data.

The whole article can be found here.

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15 years ago

Thanks inunison, this is a nice article from Brand. I would agree with what he said with one caveat, which I will get to later. First let me expand on his point in 3c.

As a fundamentalist Christian, I hold the original autograph of the Word of God as inerrant and true in every respect. We know the Bible is not a scientific cookbook, but where it touches on science I expect it to be absolutely true. Therefore being the blind fool that I am, if there is any scientific knowledge (which is different than scientific data) that conflicts with the knowledge of the Bible. I will defer to the Bible as the standard for testing that knowledge. This may seem antiquated and unenlightened, until we put this in context of our understanding of science. All scientific knowledge or theories are provisional truths, subject to change in light of new evidences and discoveries. Human limitation and modesty demands that we hold all knowledge as provisional. The Bible is a revelation from the Creator Who set the rules and materials of this universe. There is no gap in His knowledge of what is. He see things as IS. We see things as BEING. e.g. At one point, a good portion of humanity’s knowledge understood the earth to be flat or sits on some platform. Does the Bible actually say that? I don’t think so. In fact the Bible is clear that the earth is a free-floating body in space.
He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth over nothing. Job 26:7

I don’t doubt that our understanding of Scripture can be affected by our knowledge of the phenomenal, which oddly enough reinforce my faith in the Bible. Any perceive conflict may only be my misunderstanding of Scripture or a flaw in our knowledge.

Now for the caveat. I am one of those that believe the Christian faith is a rational faith and not blind faith. If it can be shown from Scripture that It contradicts the normative phenomena, that would be cause for skepticism of the Truthfulness of the Bible. e.g. If it can be shown that the Bible teaches against the phenomena of gravity, the observe fact that objects fall toward the center of the earth. This would be cause to reject the Bible as an objective Truth source. Just to be clear I am not speaking about the theory of gravity with all of the glory of Einsteinian equations. The theory is the quest for knowledge of how gravity itself works. Gravity the phenomena is the data. There is no doubt that if you jump off a ten stories building you would accelerate toward the center of the earth until you are stopped by a solid surface between you and the center. If the Bible teaches that you would not fall to the ground and you would float in the air. That would be irrational and the Bible should not be accepted as the source for Truth.