science is not 'in the flesh'

Paul Arveson (
Wed, 19 Feb 97 11:20:12 EST

Bill Hamilton wrote:

> 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.

More or less 2ding Bill's own response to these:

> 1) Is that "doing things in the flesh"? No.
> 2) If it is, can Christians do science? Not applicable.
> 3) If it isn't, why isn't it? Christians need not stop trusting Christ simply
because they are
doing things that don't call for explicit appeal to Christian beliefs or
ideas - planting a garden, tuning a car, or doing science. There is no
distinctively "Christian gardening" &c. Belief that there is is a
variety of gnosticism.
> 4) What role(s) should Christian faith play in science? At the beginning of
the process, it gives distinctive motives
for doing science. Among other things, it gives reason to think that
the world does make sense (though one obviously need not be a Christian
to believe this). When scientific work has been done, it gives a larger
context within which to place the understanding of the world which has
been gained.
George Murphy


I agree with the patient responses to the questions given by Bill and George
above. But I wish to add that it saddens me to see these questions constantly
arising among Christians. It shows how far we have strayed from our
theological roots that we would consider science a 'work of the flesh'.

One fact that we as ASAers should constant remind people about is this:

There is no fundamental conflict between 'natural' science and Christian faith.
On the contrary, among all the civilizations in history,


Excuse me for shouting, but the historical tracks of science lead right
back to the cloister and the cathedral: Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo,
Bacon, Boyle, Descartes, Leibniz, etc. were all Christian theists, not
naturalists. They were creative people who had their own distinct religious
ideas, of course. But they all made certain assumptions that formed
the foundation of natural science as we know it. Such assumptions were
not found in Eastern religions, in gnosticism, or paganism or atheism.

There are plenty of books that support this claim; e.g. Hooykaas, 'Religion
and the Rise of Modern Science', Burtt's 'The Metaphysical Foundations of
Modern Science', Butterfield's 'The Origins of Modern Science' etc. (Obviously
there are qualifications and other considerations in the history of science,
as some of you will no doubt remind us. But the fact that Christian
theology provided a philosophical foundation that was encouraging to
the development of science is made clear by these early modern scientists

We need to put a reading list on the web site, I guess.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, Signatures Directorate, NSWC
9500 MacArthur Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817-5700
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-4511 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)