Re: truth and science

Bill Hamilton (
Thu, 5 Jun 1997 10:33:43 -0400

At 8:47 PM -0600 6/4/97, Garry DeWeese wrote:
>No--by requiring that propositions about geology derived from Scripture
>not contradict propositions about gelolgy derived from and justified by
>geological science, we are directly opposing Averroism and maintaining the
>unity of truth. To do otherwise is to split off "truths of faith" (or, in
>your terms, "revelational knowledge") from the realm of rational

There is, however, a danger in requiring that truths about (for example)
geology from Scripture not contradict truths about geology from geological
science. The danger is that we will try to make those truths match while
our state of knowledge is so incomplete that we are forced into an
incorrect conclusion. Before the advent of radioisotope dating it was
easier to dispute geologists' datings for various strata. It turns out (as
I understand it) the geologists had a pretty good idea about the age of
much of the geologic column, but they didn't have the precision that became
available with the radioisotope methods. Radioisotope dating and other
methods have only increased the confidence geologists have in their
estimates. Had I lived in the eighteenth century I might have felt pretty
confident about attacking geologists' views of earth's history. Today it
would seem more rational to look closely at Scripture to determine whether
there are honest interpretations which honor God and don't challenge
knowledge that we have considerable confidence in. To stake out a position
with incomplete knowledge is to set yourself up for claims of "double
truth". It's wiser to admit that we don't know everything. Let apparently
conflicting bodies of knowledge exist and challenge each other. Both will
be better for it.

I agree that there is only one truth -- God's truth. But we have different
spheres of inquiry, and the methods appropriate for each, the methods of
gathering knowledge and the completeness of our knowledge are different in
each sphere.

But again the question: How do you know the truths of faith
>if not by using your rationality? (Note: Even deciding how to interpret
>the statements of Scripture involves a long, complicated, but often tacit
>rational process!)

Agreed, although it seems to me that Jesus made it rather clear in Jn 16:13
that we need the Holy Spirit to understand His revelation in Scripture.

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)