Science: working in the flesh?

Bill Hamilton (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 08:35:41 -0500

The discussion of professionals v. amateurs reminds me of a sticky (Mac
users with System 7.5+ know what I'm talking about) that's been on my
desktop for some time:

Science: working in the flesh?

Christians frown on "doing things in the flesh." We are advised to follow the
leading of the Holy Spirit and depend on the Lord for strength.

One might be tempted to claim that the naturalistic bent of science is by
definition an exercise in unbelief. Science as defined by most scientists
tries to understand natural causes of natural phenomena. Thus a scientist,
doing science by the commonly used definition should not be looking for
supernatural causes.

1) Is that "doing things in the flesh"?

2) If it is, can Christians do science?

3) If it isn't, why isn't it?

4) What role(s) should Christian faith play in science?

I believe these questions capture what bothers some Christians who are not
professional scientists when they get into discussions with scientists. My
answers to questions 1) and 4) above are

1) Not necessarily

2) I know a number of Christians who do what I would call conventional
science -- that is they look for natural causes of natural effects -- and I
have seen no evidence that this mindset has in any way influence their
faith negatively.
Using the same logic we could also condemn a track coach for using
scientific methods to improve his team's performance. Why not just prayer?

3) It seems to me that God has given us a natural world that behaves pretty
consistently, and he has given us senses and brains and muscles that deal
reasonably well with the material world. He has not given us the same
capabilities spiritually. I don't believe we are doing anything he didn't
intend us to do when we use our senses and our intellect to deal with
nature around us. We would be using our intellect and our senses
improperly if we claimed we could use them to establish that God does not
exist. And we would be using them improperly if we used them to do
something clearly condemned by Scripture. But using senses and intellect
to learn about nature seems to me an appropriate use.

4) Christian faith ought to give the scientist hope that phenomena he
studies are rational and understandable because they were created by a
rational God. At the same time his Christian faith ought to make him
humble. The Bible teaches that His ways are higher than ours, and that
there are secret things known only to the Lord (Deut 29:29)

Bill Hamilton
William E. Hamilton, Jr, Ph.D. | Staff Research Engineer
Chassis and Vehicle Systems | General Motors R&D Center | Warren, MI
810 986 1474 (voice) | 810 986 3003 (FAX) | (home email)