From: Loren Haarsma (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Sep 01 2003 - 11:39:31 EDT
Recent discussion motivated me to dig up an old hand-out from a class
where we discussed pseudo-science. This is my preliminary effort to
provide Christians with some _theological_ reasons for why they should
take serious interest when the scientific community speaks with general
consensus on a scientific question.
---a gift from God for discovering truths about his creation.
---one way in which we human beings act as God's image-bearers.
---a joint human endeavor -- part of our "cultural mandate" from God
to be stewards of the earth.
When scientists speak on scientific matters, they are speaking in an
area where God has given them particular talents and where they have honed
those talents with extensive training.
---Science is a group/community effort because consensus is much more
reliable than the opinion of a single scientist or a small group.
---Competent and ethical scientific practice generates knowledge
which is reasonably free from bias, in the sense that scientists can
reproduce and double-check each other's work.
When scientists speak on philosophical and theological matters, they are
speaking outside their area of expertise. Their opinions (even when there
is a general consensus -- which there seldom is on such matters) carry
less weight in these areas.
All truth is God's truth. When we learn new truths, it is a gift from
God which we should not reject.
---Scientists from many worldviews (including Christians) work
together to reach scientific consensus. This is possible because
scientists of many worldviews share, with Christians, some basic worldview
beliefs about the intelligibility of the world, the regularity of cause
and effect, the existence of objective knowledge, the necessity for
observation and experiments, the worthiness of the endeavor.
---One feature of God's "common grace" is that Christian and
non-Christian scientists alike can do science properly to discover
truths. John Calvin wrote, "If the Lord has willed that we be helped in
physics, dialectic, mathematics, and other like disciplines, by the work
and ministry of the ungodly, let us use this assistance. For if we
neglect God's gift freely offered in these arts, we ought to suffer just
punishment for our sloth." Institutes of the Christian Religion 2.11.16
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