Does the "question of origins" fall within the scope of science's
It depends, of course, on what the "question of origins" is. There is an
abundance of sloppy talk on this topic. Results: Speakers mean different
things by the same words. Speakers talk past one another. Speakers alienate
one another. Speakers confuse other people. Babble perpetuates............
In _The Fourth Day_ (Eerdmans, 1986) I made a distinction between questions
of "origin" and questions of "formation."
The question of "origin" is the question about the ultimate source of the
universe's _being_, where "being" includes everything that the universe _is_
(all of its resources, if you like), everything that the universe is capable
of _doing_ (all of its capabilities for acting and interacting), and
everything that the universe is capable of _becoming_ (all of the
potentialities for physical structures and life forms that could be
actualized by the exercise of its formational capabilities).
The question of "origin" is, What is the ultimate source (or Source) of the
being of the universe? Questions of "formation", on the other hand, ask, How
did the resources of the universe use their formational capabilities to
actualize some of the universe's potentialities for viable structures and
Questions of _formation_ are within the competence of the natural sciences
to explore. The question of _origin_, on the other hand, must appeal to
theology or metaphysics for the crafting of propositions/answers. Had Darwin
used this distinction, he would have titled his book, _The Formation of
Species_. His question was, How did species come to be _formed_ in the
course of time? The potentialities for each species and the capabilities for
forming them have been a part of the universe's 'being' from the beginning.
Howard Van Till
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