Science & Faith

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Many Christians worry that science undermines the Christian faith. Instead of fearing scientific discovery, Jack Collins believes that people of faith should study the natural world.

A Fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, Collins first explains that science is controversially defined, but that it is best viewed as “a discipline in which one studies features of the world around us, and tries to describe his observations systematically and critically.” (pg. 34) In his definition of faith, Collins lauds a statement by C. S. Lewis who said, “Faith – is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes.” (Quoting C.S. Lewis, pg. 38)

Finally he shows their relations and explains what each has concerning truth.

Collins also delves into the public debate, teaching his readers how to think critically about Darwinist arguments. In a chapter entitled, ‘Culture Wars and Warriors,’ he critiques the arguments of Darwinists such as Barry Lynn and Eugenie Scott. Lynn, he observes, aims to “mold your emotional reaction” to design proponents by comparing them to “fundamentalists” and proponents of “astrology.” Lynn’s misrepresentations draw attention to the need for “education that fosters sound critical thinking and keen awareness of rhetoric.” (pg. 335) Next Collins scrutinizes the arguments of Eugenie Scott:

“First, she wants you to think that she speaks on behalf of science and scientists – you can see that from how she uses “we.” Second, she wants you to think that your religious values – “whodunit” and “ultimate causes” – are safe with her version of science. And third, she uses a harmless definition of evolution that almost no one can be bothered about.” (pg. 336)

Scott had defined evolution as simply “change through time” and the notion that living organisms “have shared common ancestors and descended with modification.” (quoting Scott, pg. 335) But Collins had already explained that “Neo-Darwinism claims to have discovered, not just that “these [lifeforms] have transformed and differentiated,” but how they did so: namely by “an unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.”” (pg. 272) Thus, if theists “believe that God “controlled” the process of evolution, they would do well to define “controlled.”” (pg. 272)

Collins’ book is worth reading for any person attempting to obtain a realistic understanding of the relationship between science and faith.

Science & Faith: Friends or Foes?

C. John Collins

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Jack Collins is Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis, Missouri. With degrees from MIT (SB, SM) and the University of Liverpool (PhD), he has been a research engineer, a church-planter, and, since 1993, a teacher. In addition to his early focus on Hebrew and Greek grammar, he also studies science and faith, how the New Testament uses the Old, and Biblical theology. He was Old Testament Chairman for the English Standard Version of the Bible, and is author of Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? and Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care, and is currently writing commentaries on Numbers, Psalms, and Isaiah. During the 2016-17 academic year, he was a Senior Research Fellow at the Carl Henry Center for Theological Understanding of Trinity International University. He and his wife have been married since 1979, and have two grown children.