Day: June 25, 2010

should we put faith in science or derive science from faith?

I’m sure you’ve noticed the two ‘going’ popular stories about the relationship between science and faith — particularly Christian faith. Matt has recently posed the question in relation to the resurrection.

On the one hand, there’s the one that plays faith off against science. In this story, reason and individual autonomy triumph over dogma and institutional authority. The so-called New Atheists love this story. Especially because it appears to justify their faith in science (and opposition to faith). Galileo is the hero here.

On the other hand, there’s a competing story which keeps telling us that we should — and that in the course of Western history we have in fact — derive our science from faith. In his book, God’s Undertaker,┬áJohn Lennox sounds like he’s working with this story when he says:

…the rise of science would have been seriously retarded if one particular doctrine of theology, the doctrine of creation had not been present.

The Protestant Reformers are usually the heroes in this story.

My problem with both of these stories is that (as ever) things are more complex. For the faith in science story, I would have thought that even not very recent work in the history and philosophy of science had popped the Galileo = Science Trumps Faith balloon.

As for deriving science from faith, I wonder: if it’s belief in creation that’s the key to developing modern science then…

  • Why didn’t modern science develop long before it did (since Christians believed in creation well before the Protestant Reformation)?
  • And why did the Reformers — with the possible exception of Calvin — not actually have that much to say about creation (there are big gaps here in the Protestant Confessions, etc)?