Re: [asa] Question from one of my students

From: Paul Seely <>
Date: Sat Sep 30 2006 - 14:02:30 EDT

Bethany wrote, <<Ted Davis, in his article on historical views of the
origins of the earth, especially in regards to Christian concordism, cites
Francis Bacon writing about Scripture and Creation, and warning that people
careful to "not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings together."
I wonder if anyone on the ASA list has an opinion on "wisely" mingling the
teachings of Scripture and Creation. Is there a way to discuss God's
Creation in a way that is scientifically sound and also Scripturally

As some have already noted, the purpose of Scripture is to understand God as
Creator and how to relate to him and others. The purpose of science is to
understand how he created, etc. One answers, Who? The other answers, How?

As to the the actual conflicts which occur between Scripture and science,
John Calvin figured out that the reason the Bible says things which are not
scientifically sound is because Moses or David or whoever was accommodating
his message to the ignorance of the Israelites, to the "notions which then
prevailed." With regard to astronomy (and in principle paleontology) Calvin
wrote in his commentary on Genesis, "The Holy Spirit had no intention to
teach astronomy." He also invited those of his readers who might be
interested in learning science to come not to Gen 1 but "to go elsewhere."
And he clearly delineates that "elsewhere" as referring to modern
professional scientists (whom he called philosophers).

  I have updated Calvin's approach via our modern knowledge of science and
what we know from the ancient Near East, retaining his principle of
accommodation but shifting the origin of the accommodation from the human
writer to God. You can see a fuller discussion of Calvin's principle of
accommodation and my updating of it in the latter section of my paper, "The
Date of the Tower of Babel and some Theological Implications," Westminster
Theological Journal 63 (2001) 15-38.

May the Lord continue to bless your pursuit of both science and Scripture in
obedience to the first commandment to worship God with "ALL of your mind."

Paul Seely

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Received on Sat Sep 30 14:11:23 2006

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