In the first of these articles on creation, we started from the position that "the foundation of the Lord stands sure, His Word is totally trustworthy, and a belief in the literal Bible account of origins is totally sustainable". This position has been well justified by examining widely and in depth many examples of the design and efficiency which pervade the natural world around us and the physiological processes within us. In this final article, we will consider something of the broader relationship between science and the Scriptures. Our thesis is that they complement each other. They are not in disagreement. In fact, it has been shown repeatedly that science supports the revelation of Scripture.1
The pursuit of science is now almost 400 years old. Its beginnings were slow and modest, but in this 21st century it has a major influence upon every aspect of our daily lives and is an essential component of education and civilisation everywhere. Many of its results and applications have undeniably improved our health and material well-being.
But what is science? The word means "knowledge", and that is the sense in which it is used in 1 Timothy 6.20. In the 1st century there was no "science" in the presently accepted sense, but there were threats from a "knowledge system" which rejected God. Such systems and their threats change their form throughout history, but they are as old as time (see Gen 3.1-5) and as modern as today.
Science nowadays is defined as an organised and correlated body of knowledge about the material world which is based upon observation and measurement, and developed by experiment and thought. Science attempts to understand the workings of the natural world and to simplify or unify the laws by which it operates, often using quite elegant mathematics to do so. This makes it rather mysterious and daunting to many people. The danger in this is that what scientists say and propose is often simply accepted uncritically. It can be difficult to distinguish the established facts and basic laws of science from the proposals and theories which may be propagated for reasons beyond the actual limits of science. Evolution theory is a prime example of this an ideological necessity for some whose drive is atheism.
Science does have its limits. It is limited to the material world, "matter" as it is called, and it can deal only with what can be measured (in terms of the three fundamental quantities of mass, length, and time). From such measurements, laws and theories are developed and then predictions can be made of what is not directly measurable. This is called extrapolation. We have noticed before that such extrapolations sometimes lead to erroneous conclusions especially when the conditions are very far removed from the experimental ones. Such conclusions can only be accepted when they are tested and verified by new experimental evidence.
From this at least two points are worth repeating. First, those statements you hear about such things as the origin of the universe, the age of the earth, the origin and development of life, are all based upon huge extrapolations which, because of their very nature, cannot be tested by experiment. They are therefore not scientific facts. They are simply the popular ideas of those who either follow the dogma of the majority opinion or do not wish to believe otherwise. Second, because God is a spirit, science is totally unable to say anything about Him He cannot be measured, cannot be proved or disproved by science. No one can find God through science alone (Job 11.7). God is found through faith (Heb 11.6).
Science tries to simplify things by using the principle of "reductionism" - reducing systems to their simplest components for study and explanation. So science will attempt to explain everything in nature in terms of its material components, its matter only. But there are many things which we encounter in life which are not material things and cannot be measured or explained in terms of matter only. For example, the emotions of love and hate, the appreciation of beauty and wonder are not material things. Neither is the spiritual dimension to life which Christians have found to be no less real than the material or natural, indeed we believe it is more important. By definition it is super-natural.
Something else is found throughout the natural world which is not a material thing. It is information, and information is very important. It exists everywhere, but especially in living things which require matter and energy and information to be able to function. The storage and transfer of information uses material things as in the books we read, the barcodes we scan, the DNA in every cell, hormones in the blood stream, and so on. But the information these things contain and transmit is something beyond the material symbols or code. It has to do with intelligence and ability to communicate. Information is not matter and cannot be reduced to it. Information is a fundamental entity in nature, different from, and as important as, the other fundamentals of energy and matter.2
The laws of information science, now very relevant in this digital age, state that information requires a source, a receptor, and a transmitting code. Information never arises of itself, never comes from nothing or nowhere. Also codes which transfer information never arise by chance: they always require intelligent design. The source of all information in the universe is the One who is wisdom itself (Prov 8.12-31).
The most valuable information of all has been given in the Holy Scriptures this revelation from God (2 Tim 3.16) of which we can be receptors. It has been transferred and communicated to us, not in a strange code but in a way we can understand, by holy men of God speaking (writing) by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1.21). The overall purpose of it all is that we might be made wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. That is far more important than discovering distant worlds in space or microscopic details of creatures nearby. These are interesting things which do indeed declare the glory of God, but they are not the ultimate.
To create them all, God spoke and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast (Ps 33.9), an amazing work of power! But to save us from our sins and bring us to Himself in a righteous relationship of grace, He "sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him" (1 Jn 4.9), an amazing work of love! This is the ultimate and the best. Creation cannot teach it, but the Scriptures teach it clearly! No other message is better, no results are greater, nothing more wonderful than this glorious gospel! We who have received this information, this eternal truth, must transmit it to others. Let us make sure that we do transmit it in a way which those others can understand, not in some strange coded language peculiar to ourselves.
Science deals with observed facts about material things, then deduces and theorises, appealing to our intellect. The Bible deals with spiritual needs and values, and calls for our faith. It was not written to teach science, but something more important and personal and lasting. Although such an ancient book, it contains no ancient absurdities or anything which is incompatible with validated modern science. The Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture should be studied side by side. No disagreements or contradictions will be found, because God is the author of both.
To find out the truth is important. Sadly, some cannot be bothered, some even believe that there is no such thing as truth, just opinions and relative values, and they drift on through life without any fixed reference point or purpose. Others actively pursue knowledge by research, seeking answers by means of intellect and reason. Many amazing things about the material world have been discovered in this way.
But answers to deeper and more relevant questions, questions about spiritual values, about origins and destinies, about our relationships with God and with man, are not to be found by that type of research. They lie outside the scope and limits of science, found rather in the revelation which God has so graciously given in the Bible and in the person of Christ Jesus His beloved Son. Divine revelation transcends all human research. It is permanent, indeed eternal, and totally trustworthy.
1 "As I hope the evidence presented in this book has shown, science, which has been for centuries the great ally of atheism and scepticism, has become at last, in these final days of the second millennium, what Newton and many of its early advocates had so fervently wished the defender of the anthropocentric faith". Michael Denton, Natures Destiny, the Free Press New York, 1998, p.389.
2 See W Gitt, In the Beginning was Information, CLV, Germany, 2000.