God Decides, We Measure
The former chair of the Harvard University physics department muses on how faith gives meaning to his scientific work.
In this series, Ryan Pettey offers several clips from his powerful documentary "From the Dust". This feature-length film is divided up into various sections, each of which wrestles with the difficult problems that arise when reconciling Scripture with the theory of evolution. A light of hope dawns on the science-faith conversation, however, as scientists and theologians engage in honest dialogue about tough issues such as the interpretation of Genesis, the nature of the Fall, and the idea of random design. Their profound insights are sure to enlighten all minds, raise deeper questions, and provoke new thought.
It should be noted that indeterminacy does not imply that God does not have foreknowledge of future events. Christians ought not to be uncomfortable with the idea of God interacting with his creation through chance.
In this talk, Professor Plantinga addresses the fact that many contemporary thinkers—including many theologians—believe that God cannot perform miracles, providentially guide history, or interact in the lives of people, as these activities would be contrary to science. Plantinga, on the other hand, makes the case that this popular view is mistaken; excluding divine action in the world is not a central feature of natural science itself, but a philosophical or theological preference that has been added on to science (and can just as readily be removed). Plantinga concludes that it is completely logical to accept the miracles of the Bible and support contemporary science.
Some people see science and religion as enemies, at war for leadership in our modern culture. Others see science and religion as completely separate and unrelated facets of life. However, science is not the only source of facts, and religion reaches beyond the realm of values and morals. In fact, religion can have a positive impact on science, such as in the development of modern medical ethics. Many early scientific leaders were devout Christians, as are some scientific leaders today. Science can also enhance the spiritual life of believers. Christians rejoice in scientific discoveries that reveal the glory of God the creator.
(Updated June 27, 2012)
This BioLogos videocast addresses the idea of randomness as a part of natural selection, and whether it challenges the possibility of God using the evolutionary process as a means of creation.
One way to resolve the apparent conflict between the Bible and science is to say that the world merely looks old. Perhaps God created it 6,000 years ago, but made it look millions and billions of years old. While God certainly has it in his power to do this, this view raises a theological challenge for the Christian: it makes God out to be a deceiver. It would have God revealing things in the universe that are contrary to what he reveals in the Bible. The lie would be not just in a few places, but embedded in galaxies, in stars, in rocks and fossils, and in our very DNA. If we trust that “The heavens declare the glory of God”, we have to trust that they truthfully declare the history by which God made them.
In today’s video, Brian McLaren explains his own comfort with accepting Scripture and evolution, seeing the process of evolution as a wonderful opportunity for adaptation, growth, and development and a reflection of God’s glory.
For many, the importance of apparent randomness in evolution can be a major stumbling block when considering whether God could have created through an evolutionary process.
This chapter from Mark Noll's book Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind seeks to understand science through a Christ-centered lens. Overall, if one accepts that nature is created and sustained by Jesus Christ, the author explains, then one must conclude that looking at nature is, in fact, the best way to learn about nature.
If God has indeed created all things, pure scientific truth should never be a “problematic thing” for Christians. If anything, scientific truth enriches the faith as it reveals his majesty and provides Christians with a deeper understanding of God.
In our first Distinctions video -- featuring biologists Sean Carroll and Kerry Fulcher, Smithsonian Human Origins Program director Rick Potts, and Old Testament scholar John Walton -- we look at the concept of randomness.
Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
Scientists become fairly comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty within scientific data, notes Kathryn Applegate, but that is not the case for most people, especially where faith is concerned
Mark Noll, historian and author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, describes how Andrew Dickson White relentlessly advocated a view of history in which Science and Dogmatic Theology have always been at war with one another. Noll identifies 16 reasons why White’s notion of warfare is mistaken.
Evolution includes random factors in both genetic mutation and natural selection. In popular usage, “random” often means “without purpose.” Some atheists have described evolution as proceeding by “blind, purposeless chance.” But to scientists, “chance” simply means unpredictability. God could choose to use random, unpredictable processes to accomplish his purposes in creation.
In this paper, physicist Ard Louis, a "scientist who believes in the miracles of the Bible", looks at the implications science has on the acceptance of miracles.
In this video conversation, Karl Giberson notes that have to be careful about projecting our idea about human creation onto God because the notion of a human creator is an entirely different concept.
Many evangelicals believe that Young Earth Creationism is the only authentic, biblical way for Christians to understand origins, and that until the advent of Darwin's theory of evolution, it was the only view held by Christians. However, in this excerpt from Saving Darwin, Karl Giberson explains that Young Earth Creationism's origins are surprisingly recent.
Given that evolution accounts for the diversity of present life, it might seem as if God plays no role in the process. But our modern understanding of physical laws, combined with a proper understanding of God’s relationship to time, can be synthesized into a robust Christian worldview.