The Sources of Conflict

The sources of conflict between scientific and Biblical views of creation can be illustrated simply. The following illustration was developed to help in sorting out the issues from a Christian viewpoint.

1. God is the single Source or Origin of everything. By general revelation, we mean the creation of the physical universe, outside of God, as a testimony to God's existence and power to everyone, irrespective of their beliefs about God.

2. By special revelation, we mean the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, in which God revealed His will and plan to human beings through selected prophets and teachers. This authoritative, verbal revelation has the primary purpose of leading mankind to salvation, although it does overlap somewhat with the general revelation in describing the relationship of God to the physical universe and to mankind.

3. There is no final conflict between God's general revelation and God's special revelation, since they both came from the same Source. Why should God lie about what He created? On the other hand, how could we infer from the creation anything false about the revelation?

4. The cloud barrier represents two kinds of problems of knowledge that emerged after the Fall, i.e. the current state of all mankind as sinners. Sin has a 'noetic effect'; it clouds our minds and prevents us from seeing God's revelations clearly. On the scientific side are 'epistemological problems' such as the problem of induction, the problem of demarcation, and the problem of psychologism. On the theological side are the problems of hermeneutics and linguistics. As after the Fall mankind had to work hard to eat, so great struggle and study is now necessary to understand either nature or the Scriptures.

5. The human systematic study of the created world or nature is called 'science'. The human systematic study of Biblical knowledge is called 'theology'. Both of them are human endeavors that suffer from the problems of the Fall. We can never be certain that we know what the truth or reality is. We acknowledge that God is Absolute Truth, but we are not personally in possesion of that truth. This is the humble status of the scholar who 'stands under' God, rather than 'understanding' God.

6. This lack of possession of knowledge is not the same as doubt. Rather, it is consistent with what God's revelation says about our status in this world. When His glory is fully revealed to us, then we will understand with the capacity that we were originally created with -- as the image of God.

"For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." I Cor. 13:8-11 NRSV.

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him." I Cor. 8:2-3 NRSV.


American Scientific Affiliation,
Washington-Baltimore Section
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