The word "science" is derived from the Latin word "scientia," meaning "knowledge." All knowledge is derived from certain governing presuppositions. In other words, as I have noted before, each side of every issue that human beings debate ultimately has certain unprovable assumptions upon which they must eventually rely.
As the late philosopher, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, put it, "At the most fundamental level of everyone's thinking and beliefs there are primary convictions about reality, man, the world, knowledge, truth, behavior, and such things. Convictions about which all other experience is organized, interpreted, and applied."
Likewise, theologian, author and pastor, R.C. Sproul, recently discussed the "lasting impression" that the book, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, which he read over 50 years ago, had made upon him. He noted that the book was so influential to him because it "clearly set forth the importance of understanding that all scientific theories presuppose certain philosophical premises."
The concept of "primary convictions" or presupposed "philosophical premises" is important when it comes to the nonsense that is religion vs. science. The idea that there is some battle between science and religion — especially Christianity — simply won't go away. Writing in the UK's Guardian, Julian Baggini recently declared that any religion "that seeks to explain the hows of the universe ... is competing with science. In such contests science always wins, hands down, and the only way out is to claim a priority for faith over evidence, or the Bible over the lab."
Speaking of the "hows of the universe," some of the most famous and influential founders of what is considered "modern science" — Galileo, Kepler and Newton — operated from a strict biblical worldview. For example, in 1595, in Kepler's first major work, he thought that he had discovered "God's geometrical plan for the universe." As a Christian, Kepler believed that the universe was designed by a Creator and thus should function in a very logical fashion. He went as far as to define his view of "science" as "thinking God's thoughts after Him."
Though he made many mistakes, Kepler, led by his faith, was determined to make sense of the motion of the planets in our solar system. The first two of Kepler's three laws of planetary motion were published in 1609. The third and final law was published in 1619 in his book, "The Harmony of the World." In this work, Kepler noted "that the geometrical things have provided the Creator with the model for decorating the whole world." He also praised God, declaring "Great is God our Lord, great is His power and there is no end to His wisdom."
Kepler had a rather strained relationship with Galileo, but they shared a belief in the Copernican model (planets rotate around the sun, and so on) of the universe. This, of course, is what placed Galileo at odds with the Catholic Church and is what many, especially those who worship at the altar of science, point to for evidence of the backwardness of those who operate from a biblical worldview.
However, just as Kepler, Galileo was a Christian who believed in the trustworthiness of the Bible. As Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher puts it, "(Galileo) was fighting against the contemporary principles of Bible interpretation which, blinded by Aristotelian philosophy, did not do justice to the biblical text."
Isaac Newton is considered by many to be the greatest scientist who ever lived. He is most famous for his laws of motion and universal gravitation. On gravitation he noted that, "Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done."
When it comes to the age of the earth, a favorite topic of the science worshippers, both Kepler and Newton calculated the earth to be only a few thousand years old. Kepler calculated a creation date of 3,992 B.C. Newton stated that, "For an educated man ... any suggestion that the human past extended back further than 6,000 years was a vain and foolish speculation."
Now, before anyone accuses me of the fallacy of appealing to authorities, let me say that my views on Creation and the Bible are not correct simply because they are in common with Kepler, Galileo, Newton, et al. That is not the issue here. The point is that anyone can practice good science while operating from a biblical worldview and that everyone who does any kind of science operates from some worldview.
In other words, there is no battle between science and religion. The only competition that exists when it comes to our pursuit of knowledge and truth lies in our worldviews.
Trevor Grant Thomas is a Hall County resident and frequent columnist.