Why should Christians care what scientists think?

From: Loren Haarsma (lhaarsma@calvin.edu)
Date: Mon Sep 01 2003 - 11:39:31 EDT

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      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.

    Loren Haarsma

    Science is
    ---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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