COSMOLOGY CHALLENGES THEOLOGY
by W. M. Overn
[Reprinted by permission of the author]
In the May 12, 1993 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, in their Scholarship feature, there is a provocative article by Kim A. McDonald concerning the interaction between Theology and Cosmology. The article makes the point that the two fields compete for territorial rights over ever-increasing turf, well illustrated by many quotes.
In the material which follows, the style will be to discuss quotations and principles in the framework of the article and the quotations, thus logical development will often unfold based on premises which I reject. It becomes too awkward to constantly qualify statements by "alleged", "so-called", "sic", and other thought stoppers. As an alternative, permit me simply to declare at the outset that I firmly believe in the Triune God as revealed in the Bible. That I believe His word to be inerrant, complete, and historically accurate, and that I find compelling references in the Bible to an age for the cosmos well under ten thousand years.
The article under discussion is titled Science Confronts the Ultimate Question: Does the Universe Hold Clues to God? A caption states "One theory claims cosmos had no beginning or creator, but many researchers disagree." On an inner page the article is re-introduced by "Can Science Explain the Origin of the Universe or the Existence of God?"
The article features an announcement made last spring by astrophysicist George F. Smoots of the University of California at Berkeley, and highlights the following quote:
"You're never going to get rid of the question of where the universe came from. You can always ask who made the laws or designed the universe. "
Before describing the announcement, consider some background not found in the article. It is a well-established observation that radiation emanates from any object or substance that is above absolute zero in temperature. If the substance has, or approaches, certain ideal optical properties (technically called a "black body"), the wave length of the radiation is a function of temperature. The discovery, several years ago, of the universal 2.9-degree-Kelvin black-body microwave radiation was hailed as proof of the Big Bang, the spectacular event proposed as the birth of the present universe. The gigantic explosion of some "primordial atom", in which all the substance of the universe was condensed, would have generated temperatures of millions of degrees. After the succeeding several billion years, having traversed the curved space of the universe, the flash of the explosion is thought to have cooled down to three degrees.
Shortly after the discovery of the microwave background, Robert Jastrow asserted (circa 1979) that the big bang, contrary to other cosmological models, called for a beginning. Thus his famous quote that scientists had climbed their highest peak, and had found the theologians there before them. Ever since, big bang cosmology and creationist theology have been equated in the literature, much to the discomfort of both the cosmologists and the biblicists. The liberal theologians and theistic evolutionists (who call themselves "old-age creationists") gleefully accept this association.
From the standpoint of empirical science, the idea that the microwaves can be associated with an ancient explosion is too speculative for serious consideration. First, there is no evidence for the cooling process. Second, there is no valid evidence for curved space, or any other mechanism, for the flash to still be around. (I am aware of evidence often proposed as valid. ) Third, the total experience of experimental science demands that the 3-degree Kelvin radiation indicates the average temperature of the universe out there, nothing more.
These concerns keep a significant portion of the scientific community off the big-bang bandwagon. But an additional major problem arose to plague the big bang. While the cosmologists fight the battle of the bang, the astronomers have made new discoveries which show a fantastic structure and order in the universe. With each observation the known universe is getting lumpier. Theorists cannot get from the extremely-uniform background radiation to the known lumpy universe using the big bang. The big bang had reentered a scientific crisis*.
* Crisis is a term applied to a scientific paradigm when the data seem inconsistent with it. Crises often lead to a revolution that overthrows the paradigm. See Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2nd Ed. 1970
Dr. Smoots' announcement discussed in the article concerned the result of a year's effort on the part of a multi-megabuck satellite observatory collecting data on the microwave background which shows that the radiation contains very minute fluctuations. The fluctuations are disappointingly minuscule to the theorists, and would not have justified the statements made in the nation-wide news that the big bang is now confirmed, even if they were orders of magnitude larger. However, that's what all the fuss is about. The radiation is barely-perceptibly non-uniform, and therefore can now again be a "proof" of a big bang that gave birth to our highly-structured universe. In addition Dr. Smoots also announced that he and his associates had reduced the data to a map of the universe "as it existed 300,000 years after the moment of creation." "It's like looking at God," the article quotes.
The theme of the article is to review the comments being made by people that assume that the big bang is now confirmed, and speculate on the resulting dialog between scientists and theologians. The stage is set by noting that scientists like to invade the theologian's realm. This is then justified on the basis that science now can "provide a picture" of how the universe began, as well as the origin of life and the eventual fate of the universe.
If the article were accurate in this, it would be a sorry day for theology. The main reason that much of theology is in such a sorry state is the acceptance of just that premise. Higher criticism, and the wholesale abandonment of the authority of the scriptures, is a direct product of a belief that science has proven the Bible to be inaccurate in the area of origins.
An example of theological "new speak" appears in the article. William R. Stoeger, a Jesuit priest and astronomer for the Vatican Observatory, is quoted: "Most contemporary scriptures have emphasized for the last 30 or 40 years that Biblical accounts of creation were never intended to answer the questions that modern science poses today. " His use of the term "contemporary scriptures" is intriguing, to say the least.
Father Stoeger is further quoted as a spokesman for those who allow for the existence of God by invoking "other ways of knowing", the knowledge of being loved, and knowing that we enjoy something. Many go so far as to declare that there are differing types of truth that can exist side by side. (I react to the fact that Luther came close to such a statement with `shame on Luther'. This great and gifted man was unsuccessful in sorting out certain mathematical concepts.)*
* See Luther's Works, The Disputation Concerning the Passage: "The Word was made flesh", Am. Ed. Vol. 38, 239
Scientists are not concerned over what a theologian may say. Theological spokespersons (word deliberately used) often are found worshipping at the scientist's feet. Those who don't get labeled "fundamentalists" a term which instantly discredits in most circles. The article contains a lengthy quote by Nancey Murphy, associate professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary. The essence is that fundamentalists live in another century, that science is important in shaping theology, and that they are ignorant of that fact because they do not pursue their education to an adequate level.
The article does a good job of summarizing the debate among cosmologists concerning the existence of God, and the scientific evidence for it. It explores a range of views.
The range starts with Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge, who denies the idea that the big-bang paradigm demands a beginning. His alternative is a "quantum fluctuation". "Without a beginning, how can we invoke God", he says.
At the other end of the range are the "fundamentalists", who are dismissed by the article as discussed above.
In between are those who have an array of deistic reactions to the theories. The article shows some excellent insights into the world views of the natural philosophers. It quotes Father Stoeger accurately pointing out that science, as we know it, sprang up under the dominant Judeo-Christian world view of a Creator God, and that Galileo, Newton, and Kepler were not only believers, but wrote extensively on theology. What it omits is that science could not have flourished in a pagan atmosphere, and indeed did not develop in ancient China, in spite of its superior technology. Imagine developing the science of meteorology when you firmly believed that rain happened when the proper quota of babies had been thrown into the fire.
Even more to the point is the fact that the dominant methodology of cosmology and astrophysics is quantum mechanics. Completely alien to the philosophy of the article is that the understanding of reality imposed by quantum physics is again that of the pagan, and tends to violate the logical rules of cause and effect, as well as the absolutes of truth and falsehood associated with the Christian world view. Modern science with all of its triumphs could not have developed in that atmosphere, and has made no tangible advances under its influence. This is not to say that there are no scientific advances, but I do claim that where the analysis has been contaminated by quantum thinking, true advance has not occurred.
This statement is too severe, on the surface, to be left unexplained. Light is definitely absorbed by the individual molecules and atoms in its path in increments or quanta. This is caused by the discrete energy levels associated with the individual particles, electrons, for example, within the atoms. It is an unwarranted assumption that this should somehow extend to the light itself, and the theory that light energy should itself be everywhere quantized*. Theorists have surmised far beyond that, and treat all types of energy in quantum fashion.
* This is equivalent to noting that we eat an apple in a series of discrete bites, then concluding that apples are composed of bites.
Statistical methods are used, and probabilities are invoked. Since anything, regardless of how remote, has some finite probability, the range of possibilities has been hypothetically extended beyond any reasonable bound, including existence itself. Thus the very existence of anything is considered a statistical quantum process. This is not compatible with the Judeo-Christian world view that gave rise to science, nor is it consistent with the time-tested scientific method which the author of the article describes as "rigorous experimentation and independent verification".
Two examples are found in the article. One is a broad consensus that "the particles in the subatomic realm appear spontaneously". The second is "one popular idea" that the universe came into existence from nothing, using the same quantum-mechanical reasoning. Cosmologists who accept this are attempting to discover the quantum "laws" that permit the universe to come into existence from nothing.
Those who faithfully and deliberately hold to the Christian world view and are fully conscious of all it implies are probably skeptical at this point as to whether rational people, particularly educated scientists, could even remotely consider such seeming unreality. Even the non-scientists have heard of the First Law of Thermodynamics which states that ever since initial creation, no matter or energy can be either created or destroyed. To western man this is intuitively obvious. But the perception of reality and the principles of cause and effect that gave us modern science, including the laws of thermodynamics, the laws of motion, etc. is strictly within the western Judeo-Christian world view. Traditional eastern world views contain completely different concepts of reality.
A quick glance at eastern religions, with their doctrines of karma and reincarnation, divinity and cosmic unity, reveals a vast difference not only in the meaning of life, but also in the concepts of material existence. For the last seventy-five years there have been a predominance of eastern people among theoretical scientists, who have lavished their world view upon scientific theory. The early humble beginnings of relativity and quantum mechanics were dismissed by the scientists as mathematical flights of fancy. But as the majority of theorists, led by the adherents of eastern reality, became believers in these new concepts, they became firmly entrenched.
To understand these points more thoroughly one may try to imagine a debate between a doctrinaire Westerner and Easterner on the subject of the rationality of curved space. The practical problem here is that the Westerner has been so conditioned to the absolute truthfulness of curved space that he is no longer equipped to call upon his western world view to show the utter incompatibility of that concept with his concept of reality.
Back to the article. It promotes a theme that the dominant world view among scientists is still theological, a faith that the universe is composed upon symmetry, is simple and understandable, having an ultimate intelligent first cause. So many will argue for a god.
There is obvious design in the universe. If any of the important fundamental constants were to have been different from their measured values by minute amounts, the resulting universe would not be able to support life on earth. This is noted by many, who also cite the fact that science still holds to the idea that there are laws, even in quantum mechanics, that scientists can discover. Then the ultimate question remains as to who wrote the laws.
Although the article features the words science and scientists, and quotes astrophysicists, astronomers, and mathematicians, the discussion sticks closely to one major area, cosmology. We must keep in mind that there are not many positions available in cosmology, making it a rather exclusive field. Its great influence vastly surpasses its number of participants, not only because their statements make the most sensational press, but also because the majority of scientists don't make the effort to take issue with them. I am more comfortable identifying the subject as cosmology, rather than calling it science.
Perhaps some of my bias is associated with my career as an engineer. Scientists who practice engineering, with its needs for designs that work, meet specifications and, pass inspection, are less inclined to dabble with speculative science.
Cosmological quotations abound in the article. By framing them in their parochial setting they become more interesting. For example, "Not only are we not at the center of the universe, but we may not be made of the stuff most of the universe is made of. "
Not at the center is probably meant to be a dig against the Bible and the Christian world view, but misses the mark. My world view has no need that we occupy the center, nor is it in the Bible. It is simply a matter of the astronomical observations made over the last two centuries. A standard college text on cosmology will say that the astronomers' observations have consistently shown the earth (or solar system) to be at the center. But this is "philosophically untenable because of its theological implications"! Over time the standard Cosmological Principle has been adopted, which states "Wherever the observer is located within the universe, he will appear to be at the center. "
This principle solved the philosopher's problems over a preferred location for man's world, but understandably made the physicists uncomfortable. Couldn't their observations be relied upon to determine their location? Einstein's curved space solved the physicist's problem. In the mathematics of curved space, which is not helpful in explaining any real observations, the observer at any point will indeed appear to be at the center. This little piece of unreality (in my world view) was eagerly accepted by the physicists since it was confirmed by the cosmologists. So the Principle and Curved Space mutually confirm each other in a beautiful synergism.
The remark about the "stuff the universe is made of" has to do with missing mass in the universe required to fit the various models of stellar evolution. That stars form over millions to billions of years is indisputable in cosmology, so the matter must be there. Some of the speculative models of the universe require quantities that would dwarf the known observable matter. This "dark matter" could not be of the same nature as known matter or we should have been able to observe it.
Perhaps a word is in order about the methods of cosmology. Above all, a cosmologist must be inquisitive and imaginative. He asks the questions about the universe that others have overlooked, and then goes about answering them. In all respect to the cosmologists, they should be, and indeed are, excellent science-fiction writers. They creatively synthesize solutions to problems, using any tools available, be they scientific, mathematical, religious, or pure speculation.
The next step is to subject the hypothesis to rigorous scientific scrutiny, testing whether any part fails the test of compatibility with known laws based on experimental evidence and sound logic. Often the only test it passes is the ability to form rigorous mathematical expressions describing it.
Mathematics is often called the "language of science". It is that and much more. It is a true discipline, which has the capability of ordering our otherwise scattered thoughts. Learning just a little mathematics can significantly increase one's reasoning skills.
Mathematics is also an idea processor for the scientist. Once the physical principle is correctly paraphrased into mathematical terms, the manipulative power of the math will accurately derive the consequences.
A significant fact, often overlooked, is that mathematics shares with all other languages the ability to express fiction. You can lie in any language, and math is no exception. A cosmologist attempts to express some aspect of our universe and makes a mistake, or he is expressing the creative solution he has devised for a problem. He has in this case expressed a make-believe universe. When the mathematical crank is turned, out comes science fiction. Tom Barnes has presented the convincing arguments that have led a significant portion of the scientific community to believe that Einstein's general relativity, with its conclusion of time dilatation and curved space, is just that: bad physics plugged into good mathematics, resulting in science fiction.*
*Barnes, Thomas G. Physics of the Future, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, 1983 And
Space Medium, The Key to Unified Physics, Geo/Space Research Foundation, El Paso, TX, 1986
For a cosmologist to come up with truly useful concepts, he must be an alert and careful scientist. The majority have strong initial background in such disciplines as astronomy or physics. Their scores on scientific rigor vary widely, however.
I particularly admire Sir Fred Hoyle for his careful and competent scientific inquiry. He is no longer highly respected by his peers because of his inability to endorse the big bang and because of his speaking out against the popular idea of the terrestrial origin of life. I conclude that both of these problems come from a superior scientific insight, extraordinary attention to detail in his scientific analysis, and unswerving integrity in his scientific reporting.
He attracted attention some years ago with his statement that it was more probable that a Boeing 747 would arise from a junk yard under the influence of a tornado, than that life should arise spontaneously on earth in four-and-a-half billion years. Examination of that statement reveals that it was the culmination of ten years of studying the chemical and statistical processes required for life to appear.
Among the events leading to that study was a serious attempt to explain the nature of the nebula, faint clouds of matter observed in outer space. They are only known by their optical properties, but Hoyle made the most of that by studying comparable properties of every known type of substance. The first finding was that it couldn't be ice, the most popular explanation.
The only honest conclusion after all the studies was that the nebula were organic, a rather preposterous conclusion unless life were able to arise spontaneously with reasonable probability. But after all, isn't that what the biologists and biochemists have discovered? Not so, he immediately found. After ten years of careful research, Hoyle reluctantly announced not only his but the failure of the entire biochemical enterprise to solve the mystery of the origin of life. In the meantime a vast amount of data have been amassed as to why it can't happen. Thus Hoyle's famous quote.
Additional insights can be learned from Sir. Fred Hoyle. This very capable scientist suffers from a sad philosophical imperfection. Good science has steered him in the direction of truth. He has declared that the origin of life as well as the chemical properties of the elements that make life possible must have arisen by the conscious act of a super intelligence. But can a man with his excellent intellect and empirical knowledge steer himself to his Creator? Scripture says not, as is certainly borne out in Sir Fred's case. He has said he believes that the super-intelligence probably resides collectively in the insects! The evidence for that is that the combined intellect of the insects has consistently outwitted the combined human efforts to wipe out even one species.
Do not underestimate the appeal of the eastern world view. Sir Fred undoubtedly calls his philosophy "New age", as do most Westerners who have adopted it. But in this case it is classic Buddhist doctrine.
One final reference to Kim McDonald's article in the "Chronicle" that triggered this avalanche of thought. There are several little subtleties that elicit comments.
The author calls the ideas being expressed by the cosmologists "New findings". I beg you to translate that "New speculations". Many cosmologists allow for other simultaneous universes. Black holes have been suggested as passages between these universes. Others think of an infinite procession of universes. Another view is that our observable universe is only the manifest part of the more complete universe. There is an interesting parallel between this viewpoint and the Christian world view as revealed in Scripture. We acknowledge at least three parts to the entire reality. There is the visible universe, created in time, measured in time and space, being both created and temporal. Then there is the supernatural universe, created in eternity, and eternal. Beyond that there is God Himself, the Supreme Supernatural, eternal and uncreate, having, forming, and occupying His own personal dominion.
The article touches on the "Anthropic Principle", whose bid for acceptance is more recent. This states that the range of coincident physical laws and constants that allow for living things to flourish is a result as well as a cause of living intelligence. This fits the same eastern philosophy of cosmic unity that influenced Fred Hoyle in his conclusions. In both cases there is required a timeless unity, or unity over time, so that a result can also be the cause. Recall that quantum mechanics, since it replaces cause-and-effect physics, has already conditioned the scientific mind to this view of reality.
Although the article's main point is the increasing amount of theological discussion among cosmologists, it acknowledges a major dilemma. If science sticks to purely naturalistic processes, can it ever provide clues about the nature of God? Conservative Christian philosophers and scientists have always pointed out that by defining the supernatural out of science, the consideration of origins, or any other area where a supernatural process is a possibility, is ruled out of science. Or using a different emphasis, science relegates itself to a search for naturalistic explanations, rather than a search for truth.
Most of the time science is willing to live with these restrictions. But it has traditionally stepped out of line when individual scientists try to justify their atheistic or evolutionary world view by the same type of synergism mentioned before, atheism and naturalistic explanations confirming each other.
There are two other places where the shoe pinches. One is in the schools. When a scientist is called upon to justify teaching naturalistic processes that violate some of the children's deistic religious beliefs, he often succumbs to the temptation to call these processes truth.
The second is cosmology as discussed above. Very definitely, honesty demands placing supernatural processes as equal candidates with natural processes in considering the origin of the universe. As noted above, many honest cosmologists say you can't rule it out.
Extending the above discussion of world views, we note that many hypothetical processes that in human experience have no physical evidence are assumed by most cosmologists to be part of nature, and are candidates for a role in the creation of the universe. These processes are not considered supernatural. I will suggest that we agree that these are not supernatural, and for the same reason. They are not the acts of either a personal God, or of creatures endowed by that personal God with special powers. According to my world view the supernatural is very real, but these processes are not.
It is the ultimate hypothetical case to suppose that cosmology were to open its doors to all ideas, natural, unnatural, and supernatural, but let's attempt it. Defining legitimate testing grounds for the models would pose a severe problem. I would not foresee major difficulties in developing mathematical expressions to cover the models, but we could never produce a body of pertinent experimintal scientific data covering any supernatural processes.
Documentation is the only alternative. The supernatural is well documented in the Bible, the Talmud and the Koran. Cosmic unity is covered in the eastern religious classics and a wealth of western new-age sources. But were the cosmologists to seriously study these sources, and give papers on their relative merits, what field would they be in, science or theology? I rest my case that cosmology is not a legitimate science. If it were ultimately honest it would destroy itself.
I see no place in cosmology for one who holds the Judeo-Christian world view. He already holds the answer that cosmology seeks. He is better off distinguishing himself in a related field, such as astronomy, celestial mechanics, optics, or geophysics. Futhermore, I hold the cosmologists responsible for legitimizing the practice of discounting all the written histories of the ancient world, of which the Bible is chief. Both Geology and Paleontology claim to be involved in history, whose chief authority is documentation, and cosmology encourages them to discard it.
Our biblical response must first be love -- the body of Christ conveying Christ's love to fellow man. In order to reach out with the Gospel to those who accept these cosmological concepts, we first must overcome our Jonah problem, as well as the response of Moses, "I am slow of speech and tongue". People holding these views are not confined to ivy-covered buildings on remote campuses. They influence us all. Anyone who has attended school this century has been exposed to these concepts and has picked up some of it. We catch it from the science programs on public television. We teach it to our children when we help them with the homework they are assigned in their Christian schools, because it's in their textbooks. The people who are overdosing on pagan philosophy disguised as science (or civics or humanities) are ourselves, our families our church members and our neighbors. God gave Moses the solution, and gives us the same. He tells us "what to say" through Paul and Luke:
(All Scripture quotes are in the format "KJV * NIV".)
Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; * "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.
Acts 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead. * For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Paul was here speaking to the Greeks in their supreme philosophical forum, the Areopagus on Mars' Hill. He tells us several times in the epistles that there is a difference in approach to the Greek compared to the Jew.
1Cor 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: * Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; * but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
Examples of preaching to the Jews convey the theme that the Christ must suffer rather than rally Israel into a worldly power, the stumbling block. The difference is the personal knowledge of a personal God among the Jews, and the pantheistic godhood of Greek philosophy. The Jew acknowledged a sovereign Creator and the Greek did not.
Paul's writing and preaching are completely consistent. In the synagogue he expounded the prophetic teachings concerning a suffering Christ, but here on Mars' Hill he preached Creation! What a wonderful example of what a Christian testimony must be. First the Law, then the Gospel. In this case, the emphasis is where it was most needed, the Creator of the universe is a personal God, calling all men to him, and demanding their allegiance to Him. He has made Himself available to man as well, and has appointed a judge with impeccable credentials, He raised Him from the dead!
We miss the gospel here. Christ is introduced as the Judge. Paul was rudely interrupted, with the Greek's version of "Don't call us, we'll call you". Scripture says, however, that some believed. The specific Gospel message was simply not recorded.
Note the use of apologetics here, the emphasis on the historical resurrection of Christ. This event had several years of notoriety before the apostle hit the scene. It had undoubtedly been debated at length among this very audience.
Earlier in the Book of Acts, Luke presents the resurrection as having had the most rigorous documentary proof:
Acts 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: * After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Here was intellectual logical proof that the man, Jesus, had been appointed to a special office by the Supernatural God who holds the supreme power over mankind, the power of life and death. Here was the "wisdom" the Greeks sought.
Note what Paul did not do. He did not speak against naturalistic science. That the Greeks were hung up on that subject is well documented. The majority viewpoint was materialistic origins. The theory of evolution by natural selection was proposed and widely published by Lucretius over 100 years before. It was not that Paul was not well educated and capable in science. He showed the Greeks his science education by quoting a passage from memory from the definitive work for his generation in astronomy*. It was that he wanted to offer intellectual proof for the divinity of Christ, in other words an apologetic. And creationist science is not an apologetic.
*Paul's quote in Acts 17:28 that "we are His offspring" he attributes to "some of your own poets". One of these was Aratus, a native of Tarsus, who had been commissioned around 250 BC to translate Eudoxus (circa 350 BC), into modern Greek. This he had done in verse. Eudoxus is considered one of the foremost authorities in astronomy of the ancient world.
Paul's approach was to promote belief in the Triune God as revealed in the Scriptures, and to start where Scripture starts, with creation. All morality depends on creation, but more important to Paul's message is the dependence on creation of Gods right to govern, His sovereignty, and ownership, and His right to demand obedience, His right to judge. His power to enforce is fundamental if he is Creator, but could only be seized and constantly defended by a lesser deity.
Creation is an important part of the message of evangelism to the Greek, not an apologetic. The message is Law and Gospel. Without law there is no need for the gospel, and without creation there can be no basis for law. Our friends, in this century, be they the corner grocer or the cosmologists, are Greeks, not Jews. Even our Jewish friends today are mostly Greeks. The Jews of Paul's time, believers in a sovereign personal creator god, and to whom Christ Jesus is a stumbling block are represented in our generation mainly by the Muslims.
We must not be afraid to believe in what the scriptures tell us about this subject, and base our behavior upon it.
Rom. 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: * For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
The quotations from the article discussed previously are but examples of this scenario from Paul's letter to the Romans, being repeated non-stop. Of course the power and divinity of the Creator are clearly seen. This natural knowledge of God is well demonstrated by the statements made by the cosmologists. But with those who have been placed on a high pedestal by the public, and told that as scientists their imaginations are pure divine revelation, the rest of Scripture's scenario is inevitably played out.
Rom. 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. * For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Modern sophisticated man is no different from Paul's audience on Mars' Hill, of whom Paul writes,
1Cor 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. * For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
Rom. 10:17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. * Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
So we must faithfully preach the message, and, as Paul says in 1Cor 3:7, "[It is] God that giveth the increase".
What is the role of creation science? To the disappointment of many, it is not a way to prove the validity of the Bible. Nor is it capable of swerving men's mind into intellectual harmony with God's word. All this can only be done by the Holy Spirit, and the means He has promised to use is His Word. Not that He can't use our scientific reasoning when he desires, but He has not empowered it with His promise. Creation science is not an apologetic, because it is intellectual rather than forensic. In other words, the many eye-witnesses to Christ's resurrection would stand up in court, whereas my insistence on interpreting scientific data in the light of human experience rather than in a more imaginative way, can always be passed off as an intellectual preference.
Creation science is first a way of life for a scientist holding the Christian world view. Revealed truth is a set of data without a margin of error, and wherever it can be legitimately applied it gives an initial leg up in any scientific investigation. Creationists are better scientists.
Secondly, creation science is essential in avoiding intellectual temptation. Supposing Eve had had a sister who had not fallen. Imagine Satan tempting the sister with the same enticement of knowledge and wisdom. She would probably succumb except for Eve's warning that she had already tried it, and it didn't work out.
Creation scientists provide the warnings and the resources for Christian students confronted with the "proofs" that Genesis is inaccurate. They provide the data and reasoning which show there are no such proofs.
How lamentable it is that during the thirties and forties when major American church leaders flocked to the universities to get advanced degrees, the creation scientists were holed up licking their wounds from the Scopes trial. The abandonment of reliance on Scriptures that has led to today's wholesale apostasy, would certainly have been diminished, had creation science been adequately represented. Finally, creation science is a very-important part of the creation message, divine law that must be preached along with the saving gospel. Without it much of preaching cannot be heard. It seems that Paul's inspired statement that "faith cometh by hearing" uses particularly well chosen words. Faith is not said to come by preaching, but by hearing. One could preach till he was hoarse, day after day, and if no one is listening, no one will hear. So creation science, applied at the particulars where skepticism appears, can greatly aid the hearing process.
Isa 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else. * For this is what the LORD says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: * For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Our pious fathers have ever taught us to say with Paul, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). I am also not ashamed to be created by God, who saw fit to create me along with the angels and the mighty men of history, and, as Luther says, has invited me to call upon Him as little children call upon their dear Father.
Soli Deo Gloria
Article published in the "Lutheran Synod Quarterly", Sept. 1993
(Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, 6 Browns Court,
Mankato MN 56001)