843 Acres: Science and Orthodoxy as Rivals?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Deut 11 (text | audio, 4:29 min)
Ps 95 (text | audio, 1:10 min)
Ps 96 (text | audio, 1:22 min)
Highlighted: Ps 95:4-6

Huxley: Modern naturalism is indebted to Thomas Huxley (1825—1895), an English scientist who thought that society’s true intellectual leaders should be scientists, not theologians. He believed that religion should be “a private matter of emotion and values—not something that deserved any place in serious intellectual discussion.” Indeed, he enjoyed setting up science and theology as rivals, with science as the certain victor: “ … whenever science and orthodoxy have been fairly opposed, the latter has been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed, if not annihilated; scotched, if not slain” [1]. Is there any other way to view science and theology?

Bacon: Francis Bacon (1562—1626) had a different view. Bacon argued that the empirical method—that is, making observations through experimentation—was the best way to gain knowledge about the world. He thought that science was meant to point to God, not replace him: “God, [Bacon] argued, was the first cause of everything. He is the ultimate reason that anything happens. God makes things happen, however, in certain natural ways. He makes flowers grow, for instance, by providing sunlight and rain. These mechanisms can be regarded as the secondary cause, the way in which God goes about doing things. By separating our first and second causes, Bacon was able to discuss second causes while contemplating the first one. As he himself wrote, “[L]et no man … think or maintain that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s word or in the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficiency in both.”

Psalmists: In response to seeing creation, the Psalmists cry out for the Creator: “In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker; for he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture” [2].

Prayer: Lord, Science and theology are not necessarily at odds. Instead, as we see the earth’s depths and the mountains’ heights, we consider your greatness. When we contemplate the sea and land, we marvel in your glory. Let us, therefore, bow down in worship and kneel before you as the first cause of everything. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Texts (our reading plan)

Sat, June 8: Deut 12 (text | audio, 5:20 min) & Psalm 97 (text | audio, 1:12 min) & Psalm 98 (text | audio, 0:59 min)
Sun, June 9: Deut 13 (text | audio, 3:01 min) & Deut 14 (text | audio, 3:20 min) & Psalm 99 (text | audio, 0:57 min) & Psalm 100 (text | audio, 0:31 min) & Psalm 101 (text | audio, 1:01 min)

Footnotes

[1] See Kristen Birkett. “I Believe in Nature: An Exploration of Naturalism and the Biblical Worldview.” via The Gospel Coalition. | [2] Psalm 95:4-6 ESV

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