Re: [asa] Question from one of my students

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Sat Sep 30 2006 - 17:33:23 EDT

Bethany asks a very good question. We are often so focused on the "unwisely"
that we fail to emphasize the "wisely."

In addition to the good comments made so far, another way to think about a
wise mingling or confounding of science with our understanding of the
Scriptures is the approach suggested by the late Donald MacKay in his books
such as "The Clockwork Image." He points out that there are different levels
or categories of explanations of phenomena. Each level can be a 'complete'
explanation within its own category but different levels will provide
different explanations. These differences are not contradictions or
exclusionary but are complementary. A full understanding requires all
In this way, we can think of the Scriptures providing an explanation of
creation at the level of Who and Why and What is the relationship between
the creation and the creator? Science provides an explanation of the When
and How. As Jim and Paul and others pointed out, these are complementary and
not contradictory.
Some examples:
Job 39:13-18 focuses on who gave the ostrich her characteristics; science
describes in detail the habits of the ostrich and the immediate causes that
have influenced its behavior. these are different levels of explanation that
are complementary and not contradictory. Trying to examine Job 39 to see if
it matches perfectly with our natural history understanding is inappropriate
since that puts the two at the same level. This is not to say there is no
commonality or relationship between the two. There is indeed a close
connection but they represent different types of knowledge of the same
Similarly, as has often been cited, Gen. 1&2 talk about the who and why of
creation while science elucidates the when and how. Gen. 6-9 talks about
man's accountability to God and the consequences of sin as well as of grace
while science can help us understand the scope and timing of the flood(s)
that provided the lesson.

Science should not be kept separate from theology but should be seen as
providing a complementary view of all reality from different perspectives.


----- Original Message -----
From: "James Mahaffy" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, September 29, 2006 5:18 PM
Subject: [asa] Question from one of my students

> Folks,
> My paleontology students were asked to read Ted Davis article on
> concordism and Bethany, one of my students had a question. I suggested
> she give it to me and I would post it to the ASA list. I will blind copy
> this to her and the class so their e-mails won't be out there in a
> public web archive. Paleo class you can see any responses by looking
> at the archives of the ASA list at url:
> Bethany has not read as much as some of you have but she is asking a
> serious question so I will post it and see if you have any response
> 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 be
> 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 sound?
> --
> James Mahaffy ( Phone: 712 722-6279
> 498 4th Ave NE
> Biology Department FAX : 712
> 722-1198
> Dordt College, Sioux Center IA 51250-1697
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Received on Sat Sep 30 17:33:55 2006

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