I received lots of great feedback today on the sermon on creation that kicks off our series on sound doctrine. For those of you who are interested in thinking through this subject more deeply, I published an essay in The Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology that might be helpful (available in the articles section).
I also received several questions regarding the difference between science and nature, and related questions about creation passages such as Psalm 19 and Romans 1:18-32. Following are additional thoughts on these topics:
It is important to differentiate between science and nature. Nature is created by God and does indeed point people to God. However, according to Romans 1, all nature can do is condemn people by highlighting our sinfulness.
Science, on the other hand, is a human-created way of studying the physical world. As with most things created by humans, it has both good and bad aspects. One of its weaknesses is that because science is part of the “world” – meaning the world’s systems created by humans and not the natural world created by God – it falls under 1 John 5:19. John says “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” One of the ways that Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers is by using the system of processing truth that we know of as science.
When we take science (human creation) and use it to study nature (divine creation), we end up with nature pointing people to God but science being unable to decipher God’s involvement. Another way to look at it is that although nature is always broadcasting a message about God (Psalm 19), when we attempt to interpret and understand the message using science, we always get some aspect of the interpretation wrong. This is because science, the system we developed for interpreting the data, is flawed and ultimately under the control of the evil one. That why Hebrews 11 reminds us that it is not faith plus science, wisdom, or reason. It says “by faith we understand that the world was made at God’s command.”
However, because science is created by humans, who are made in the image of God, it has an important place in God’s world and is used by God to help us process and understand the physical world. But faith is a different way of knowing. While science can provide barriers or aids to faith, knowing by faith is fundamentally different than knowing by science.