When people consider the contrasting conclusions and apparent disconnect between the Bible and modern science they raise some obvious questions. Can both be true? Can one have both a young supernatural creation and billions of years of cosmology, geology and evolution? Can one have both a worldwide catastrophic flood and billions of years of slow gradual accumulation of rock layers and fossils? Is not science so successful that it just has to be right? Many Christian scholars, a large majority perhaps, try to reconcile these issues by somehow fitting the billions of years from the historical sciences into Bible’s creation narrative. However, there are three aspects of the nature of science and the scientific establishments that we all need to consider very carefully first. Then we will be able to relate the Bible to modern science in a more sensible and consistent manner. We will begin with nature of scientific progress and then look at some other important aspects of science practice and science establishments. Finally, we will look at an overall example, and consider some useful conclusions.
Scientific Progress and Paradigm Shifts
We usually like to think of science as progressing steadily forward as scientists continually build on the current body of knowledge. Nevertheless, the history of scientific endeavor often tells a quite different story. History tells us that from time to time there are revolutions of scientific thought and perception of “fact”. In these revolutions, new ideas replace previous ideas that were well accepted by the great majority as unquestionably true. Usually such a shift in basic ideas is brought on by new observational evidence or theoretical analysis that simply will not fit the old way of thinking that seemed so obvious and so well accepted by the great majority. Such revolutionary changes in understanding are often called a paradigm shift. These paradigm shifts are usually caused by foundational modification in the basic assumptions or axioms used in scientific theories. New observations and analyses, that do not demand different foundational assumptions, can usually be worked into the currently accepted theories without a paradigm shift. But when new observational data requires a change in our basic assumptions a paradigm shift will occur. Often the human nature of the established authorities of the day will lead them to resist the new ways of thinking. After all they have years of blood, sweat, toil and prestige invested in the old way of thinking. Let us look at a few examples of paradigm shifts in several different areas of science.
Paradigm shift example from geology:
Before 1950 or so if one had asked a geologist if continents could move around he would likely say no. He might discuss the forces between the continents and the mantle compared to the force needed to crush or tear apart rock and come to the logical conclusion that it is simply impossible for the continents to have moved. However, during the 1950s there was a large research efforts to explore and study the ocean floors about which little was known at the time. The mass of new data soon indicated that all the ocean floors were quite young compared to the continents and that the ocean floors had been replaced as the continents had moved around on the globe quite a lot, colliding and separating and in the process destroying and replacing the floors of the oceans. In about a decade the foundational assumptions and “known facts” of Earth’s geology and history changed. The new ideas of plate tectonics are now agreed on by a very great majority. Only a few years before the great majority of professionals and institutions agreed on the previous version of obvious assumptions and “known” facts.
Paradigm shift example from physics:
In the late 1800s, many top physicists thought that they had all of the basic physical laws of nature worked out. After all, in the last few decades some truly great achievements had taken place including the stunning success of Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory and Boltzman’s thermodynamics. Some of the prominent authorities went so far as to assert that future physicists would only have a few details left to explore. Nevertheless, in the next few years’ exploration of these details led to two major revolutions in physical theory. In 1905, Einstein published the first of his revolutionary papers on relativity. At the same time Plank, Bohr and others produced a whole new and strange science of quantum theory. The more technology has achieved since, the more dependent it has become on quantum theory. Not very much of modern technology would be possible without the concepts of quantum theory and relativity.
Paradigm shift examples from biology:
In the mid 1800s, germ theory had been introduced but was still rejected by many of the prominent authorities. This is true even though the microscope was invented in the late 1600s and a plethora of smaller and smaller microscopic life forms had become known. So, by the 1800s it should have been clear that some microscopic life is possibly associated with many infections and diseases. But, some leading authorities refused to take simple measures like washing their hands before surgery or delivery, much to the detriment of their patients. Later, in the 1880s, it was clearly demonstrated that certain specific bacteria caused certain specific diseases. Finally, that undeniable evidence changed the course of biological and medical history.
Somewhat later in the early 1900s, medical science accumulated a list of more than a hundred organs in the human body that seemed to have no function or purpose. These organs were assumed to be leftover rejects of natural selection in our evolutionary history so they were dubbed ‘vestigial’ organs. For many years, the presence of these vestigial organs was offered as strong evidence supporting the ‘fact’ of evolution. Over the last century, the list of vestigial organs has shrunk to the vanishing point as science has learned more and the new data replaced the earlier ideas so authoritatively presented as fact.
Still later in the late 1900s, scientists learned to sequence the DNA molecule and discover the information encoded in it. Soon these scientists discovered that a large portion of the DNA’s code space is consumed with apparently simple repeating patterns that seemed to have no purpose. Many of these scientists were quick to announce that this was ‘junk’ DNA that was a leftover of natural selection in man’s evolution. However, in the last few years, much more has been learned and much of the ‘junk’ DNA has been shown to be part of the complex control system that determines when, where and how much of each protein is needed. Even so, one still frequently hears that junk DNA proves evolution. Science is moving forward at an astonishing rate, but there seems to be some things that human nature is very slow to learn indeed.
Thus, from the history of science and its ongoing change including paradigm shifts, we should learn to be tentative about current scientific theories in a disciplined way. What science knows at any given time is probably just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. A good scientific theory is required to explain all of the repeatable data. Therefore, the details are important and new observation and analysis will often lead to surprising changes in scientific knowledge. As a result, science often progresses with jumps, jerks and backtracking rather than smooth steady progress. Over the long haul, scientific progress often goes in surprising new directions. When we see that the tentativeness of our scientific knowledge has been forgotten, it is likely time to look out for the next paradigm shift. So, one should be careful to not base our understanding of God’s word on the current but changing understanding of science. For those interested in the Bible, it will be better in the end to look for consistency between the various parts of the inspired word of our omniscient God who knows as fact what happened in the past rather than look for some way to force agreement with the current understanding of science.
Two Kinds of Scientific Endeavor
In order to understand science as a whole we need to recognize a subdivision of science into two very different kinds of scientific endeavor. One of these is empirical or operational science, which deals with the things in the world around us that can be directly and repeatably observed or measured. The other subdivision is historical science, which deals with the unobservable and unrepeatable events of the past. Let us look at each in some detail.
Operational science demands verification of hypotheses by repeatable testing through direct observation and experimentation. This procedure is what we normally think of as the scientific method. Constant questioning, comparing different hypotheses, refining, and retesting make operational science self-correcting to a substantial degree and that produces forward progress. Anything that suppresses the open-minded process of questioning, comparing, refining, and retesting slows scientific progress and tends to lead science into a rut of stagnation.
The object of operational science is to discover the laws of nature through processes that can be repeatably observed and repeatably verified. It should make little difference how things got to be the way they now are. Ideally, observations and experiments are carefully designed to eliminate any preconception or bias of the observer. A good example that laymen often hear about is drug tests that are carried out with trials that are randomized, double blind, and placebo controlled. These three techniques are used to eliminate any possible effect on the experimental results by the preconceptions or desires of the technical staff or the test subjects about how things work or how they came to be the way they are. The purpose of empirical testing is to determine how natural laws now operate without regard to anything else.
Operational science has been extremely productive. It has produced all of our knowledge about the laws of physics and chemistry. All of modern technology grows out of operational science as well. As far as I know, there are no conflicts between operational science and the Bible. Miracles might be cited as an exception but true miracles, acts of God above or beyond natural law, are not repeatable and usually are not directly observable while in process. Thus, true miracles are not properly a part of science. Sometimes an event is mislabeled as a miracle and it is a valuable service when operational science demonstrates by what natural law the event could happen by entirely natural means.
Historical science makes an effort to reconstruct the past events that lead to the present situation that operational science now observes and studies. Historical science is different from operational science because it cannot directly observe or experiment on anything in the distant past. Historical science must take what has been observed and verified by operational science in the present and infer what might have happened sometime before that. Then, given that the first inference is true, extrapolate to greater detail or further back in time in a way that can be consistent with the laws of physics and the presently observed repeatable facts. Each step of the way scientists must be careful to consider only possibilities that would be consistent with the established laws of physics and chemistry. However, that still allows many possibilities so the inferences must be guided also by some philosophical assumptions or preconceptions about what events make up our past. The result is a theory that becomes more dependent on assumptions and preconceptions the further back in the past it attempt to go. This is the best that can be done because no one was present in the distant past to record what actually happened.
One of the choices that must be continually made for the historical reconstruction of the past is the nature and speed of physical processes. Were these always the same in the past as we observe today? In current historical science it is almost universally assumed that the processes of the past included only those observed today and that those proceeded at basically the same rate or speed as those observed today. This philosophical assumption is known as uniformitarianism. Clearly strict application of the assumption of uniformity will produce a theory that cannot be consistent with a number of things related in the Bible. On the other hand, one can argue that the uniformity assumption makes good sense unless there is good reason to make an exception. The question is what one takes to be good reason.
It is interesting to note that in well-crafted literature or cinema, the artists skillfully make their tale consistent with our actual experiences in real life so that it appears to be very realistic. One can be hard pressed to distinguish between a true story element and a fictional one unless the author tells us which it is. Likewise, the historical sciences are careful to make their work as consistent with present repeatable observations as possible. Therefore, it can be very hard to tell how much of the result is a fictional product of the assumptions, inferences, and extrapolations that were used in developing the current concepts of the historical sciences.
Historical science has produced many of the concepts about historical geology, about evolution theory and the origin of life, and much about big bang theory and the origin of matter and energy. These are very important areas of science. They suggest much about who we are, where we and our world came from and how we got here, and perhaps something about where we can go from here. These issues have an important impact on our personal philosophy, religion, faith, values and self-concept. Thus, the issues of historical science produce philosophical and religious conflicts and strong personal feeling that we often see in our society.
Science, Operational and Historical, and the Bible
As far as I can see, all of the conflicts between the Bible and science are issues of historical science rather than those of operational science. All modern technology comes out of the experimental repeatability of operational science and very little if any of that is in conflict with the Bible. This is a very important relationship to understand about scientific endeavors. The Bible’s primary conflicts with science are with the assumptions and inferences of historical science. The conflicts are not with the repeatable experiments and observations of operational science and the modern technology that grows out of operational science. This distinction between operational science and historical science must be kept in mind in order to say anything clearly meaningful or entirely truthful about the relationship between science and the Bible.
Some would like to ignore the difference between historical science and operational science and treat all science as having the same significance and value. But for those who want to understand the relationship between science and the Bible, it is essential to recognize that operational science has a much higher degree of rigor because it demands verification by repeatable experiments. This experimental repeatability of operational science has lead to the understanding of the laws of nature and the development of modern technology. In contrast historical science is strongly dependent on assumptions, inferences, and extrapolations about the unobservable and unrepeatable past. These assumptions, inferences, and extrapolations contribute nothing to modern technology. The common idea that the marvelous success of modern technology lends support to the assumptions, inferences and extrapolations of historical science is simply false. This false idea is an urban myth that all, and the Christian community in particular, need to be diligent in correcting.
Consider this: we know what the laws of physics and chemistry are because they can be verified by repeatable experiments. Thus, if historical sciences theories of evolution, cosmology, or historical geology are changed, how would that change the practice of medicine or any technology? It would not change the experimentally verified laws of physics or chemistry so it would not change the practice of medicine or technology either. Scientists might begin to select different jargon names for various things but what they physically do would not change any more than the laws of physics or chemistry. Thus the historical sciences have no effect on the results of operational science or modern technology. Likewise the marvelous successes of the operational sciences do not lend any support or confirmation for the inferences and theories of the historical sciences.
Scientists, Institutions and Worldviews
As we have seen above, the preconceptions and assumptions used by scientists make a very important contribution to the historical sciences. Therefore, it is important to try to understand more about the worldview of various groups of scientists. There is not a great amount of data available about this but Dr. Edward J. Larson, Professor of History and Law, has done some surveys that produce some useful and relevant results. Below I will draw on the following Larson publications:
The Evolution Debate, 116 Christian Century 1026 (1999)
Scientists and Religion in America, 281 Scientific Am. 88 (1999)
Leading scientists still reject God, Nature, Vol. 394 (1998) 313
The Broad Scope of Scientists
Dr. Larson’s surveys of the broad scope of practicing scientists show that about 40% believe in a God that answers prayer, an afterlife, and that God guided evolution in some manner. In contrast, the 60% majority do not so believe. This majority has a more materialist worldview more likely believing that only matter and energy exist and that evolution is random and purposeless. These worldviews are likely to have some bearing on the inferences about the past that scientists in the different groups might be willing to consider. For example, the 40% might be more willing to consider the possibility of a larger role for catastrophic or “episodic” processes in historical geology. The 60% majority is more likely to insist on a strict uniformitarian assumption, giving consideration to only the processes observed today and those going forward only at the speed observed today.
The Top Echelons of Scientists
An interesting thing happened when Larson surveyed the membership of the National Academy of Sciences, the NAS. There are several important institutions of leading scientists but the NAS is one of the largest and most influential. It is comprised of the leading scientists from all of the recognized fields and its purpose is to provide scientific advice and consultation to Congress and other government bodies. Naturally, to a large extent, these same leaders control the educational and research institutions, research grants, peer review for science journals, and career advancement. It is very significant that only about 7% of these ‘top’ scientists believe in a God that answers prayer, an afterlife, and that God guided evolution in some manner. The 93% majority of the NAS would express various degrees of doubt or denial and take much more of a materialist and uniformitarian worldview. Thus the NAS members are likely to be very biased as a group against considering any significant role for catastrophic processes or any role of intelligence in the past or anything else that might be construed by some as the action of God. Further, since the NAS elects its new members, it will be very slow to change even in response to new evidence or analysis. Even worse, it will be very hard for any of the broad scope of practicing scientists to pursue anything unsavory to the NAS establishment because the top scientists will naturally give the research grant money, institutional positions, and publication privileges to the work that makes good sense to them and their way of thinking. In academia, the proposition is truly publish or perish. The top scientists tend to keep all the scientists at lower levels in line. Those who might be inclined to explore other directions will likely have to ‘stay in the closet’ if they want any career advancement. This biased control of the establishment greatly limits the self-correcting nature of science and slows the forward progress toward truth.
In the best spirit of the pursuit of truth, science should make sure that there are always several competing lines of thought and research being pursued to some extent at any given time. This competition of ideas is essential to the progress of science. However, this is often not what happens in the science establishment. Instead, anything that might not be consistent with the current historical view is often suppressed, sometimes quite ruthlessly. This suppression of ideas will limit even the self-correcting action of operational science and the progress of science in general.
Christians should note well that under these conditions the current view of historical sciences cannot be a valid basis for understanding God’s word presented in the Bible. Even the operational sciences, with their much greater rigor than the historical sciences, must be expected to change over time in surprising ways and some of these changes will be the radical changes in thought called paradigm shifts. The only sound principle for interpreting God’s word is to ensure that our understanding of any one part of scripture is consistent with all other parts. This principle is sometimes expressed as, “Only God’s word should be used to interpret God’s word.”
An Overall Example
Cosmology and the Big Bang theory provide a good and instructive example of how all of the above issues work together in the historical sciences.
The only thing that astronomers observe directly is the pattern of light that entered their telescopes and instruments on a given date. To give meaning to this data they must first employ the laws of physics as reveled here and now by the operational sciences. Then they must also add to that some concept of the nature and history of the cosmos and of those light waves before they arrived at the telescope. Otherwise, they cannot come to any conclusion about what the pattern of light tells them about the rest of the universe and its history. Thus, their conclusions are just as dependent on their assumptions and preconceptions as it is on the observed data and the present understanding of the laws of physics. Sometimes it is very difficult to tell what part of their conclusions comes from the data and what part comes from the assumptions and preconceptions used.
Big Bang cosmology provides an interesting case study. The famed cosmologist Steven Hawking discusses the reasoning behind the foundational assumptions of the Big Bang theory in a technical book titled The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time that was published in the 1970s with co-author George Ellis. In explaining the assumption that matter is uniformly distributed throughout space, they write:
However we are not able to make cosmological models without some admixture of ideology. In the earliest cosmologies, man placed himself in a commanding position at the center of the universe. Since the time of Copernicus we have been steadily demoted to a medium sized planet going around a medium sized star on the outer edge of a fairly average galaxy, which is itself one of a local group of galaxies. Indeed we are now so democratic that we would not claim that our position in space is specially distinguished in any way. We shall, following Bondi , call this assumption the Copernican Principal.
A reasonable interpretation of this somewhat vague principle is to understand it as implying that, when viewed on a suitable scale, the universe is approximately spatially homogeneous.
Copernicus was a leading astronomer and a priest who in 1542 was first to publish a mathematical model of a sun centered planetary system. At the time, poor observational data and lack of a clear system of cause and effect prevented wide acceptance among astronomers. Some who took advantage of the theory’s greater simplicity took it to be purely a mathematical device rather than physical reality. In the late 1500s, Tycho Brahe provided observational data sufficiently accurate to make some distinction between Copernicus’ heliocentric model and the Ptolemaic Earth centered model that came from the Greeks. This more accurate data allowed Kepler in the early 1600s to recognize the elliptic form of the orbits and to formulate three mathematical rules or ‘laws’ from which a description of the planetary motion could be derived. However, there was still no clear system of cause and effect. Galileo, also in the early 1600s, made the first observations with a telescope, which exposed important details never before seen. Isaac Newton’s work in the late 1600s provided a system of physical cause and effect though his theory of gravitation and laws of motion. The improving observational data coupled with models derived from a small set of natural principles or ‘laws’ now gave the heliocentric model, first published by Copernicus more than 150 years earlier, status of a widely accepted description of physical reality.
All along the way there was a struggle of old science and established authority with new science. The Roman Catholic Church was the institutional authority for science and politics as well as religion of the day. Their support of the Ptolemaic system came from reliance on Greek philosophers rather than reliance on the Bible. In fact, the church authorities of that period were deep into a variety of corruptions far beyond the persecution of dissenters and that situation led to a revolt by Christian scholars in the Protestant Reformation. Soon the Catholic Church also experienced a substantial reformation from the former corruption and excess. Even so, anti-theist historical revisionist soon turned the success of the Copernican heliocentric model into propaganda. Many anti-theist distortions became well established in the 1700 and 1800s. In his article The Copernican Myths, Mano Singham (Physics Today, December 2007, p48.) cites a good example in the following statement by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832): “Perhaps no discovery or opinion ever produced a greater effect on human spirit than did the teachings of Copernicus. No sooner was the Earth recognized as being round and self-contained, than it was obliged to relinquish the colossal privilege of being the center of the world.” Singham informs us that in the 1500s the center of things was where one expected the lowest and worst of everything to fall, rather the opposite of a privileged place. Singham also notes that “Goethe managed to propagate another major distortion: the notion that before Copernicus (and Columbus) it was not known that the Earth was a sphere.” A majority of scientists and institutions have continued this kind of historical falsehood right up to the present. This includes the founders of the Big Bang and our esteemed cosmologists.
In this atmosphere of science and philosophy, the founders of the Big Bang extrapolated the non-centrality of man to a general principal that extends from the solar system to the entirety of the universe and made it a foundational assumption of the Big Bang theory. Thus, one of the foundation stones of Big Bang theory is that there is not to be any special or privileged place for man in the Big Bang universe not to mention any place for the special attention of God. That demands that an observer at any point in the universe would have to see, on the large scale, essentially the same thing in every direction. That demands a space-time geometry closed on itself with no edge or center and matter distributed uniformly throughout. Thus, Copernicus’ innovation modeling of the solar system was extrapolated to a general foundational principal of the universe in its entirety. This is the Copernican Principle. Somewhat later, the name Cosmological Principle came into frequent use as, perhaps, a more sanitary term.
Note that this foundation stone called the Copernican (Cosmological) Principle is an assumption based on ideology more than it is on observational or experimental science. Nor is this the only way to build a cosmological model; it is merely the way that the materialists mindset feels most safe because it might seem to keep God out of the picture. No doubt, many Big Bang theorists would like to have some more clearly physical reasoning to use in place of the Copernican Principal. At the same time, they do not ordinarily tell the public that the Big Bang is dependant on such an ideological assumption, not to mention one that has an anti-theist bias. Rather the Big Bang is generally presented as pure science and unquestioned fact
There has always been some observed data that did not seem to fit with the Big Bang theory and the theory has been patched up in many ways. One such patch job has become another foundation stone of current Big Bang theory. This is the period, very early in the theory’s scenario, of extremely fast expansion of space called inflation. Alan Guth hypothesized this inflation of space in 1979 to save the Big Bang theory from some looming fatal flaws. Since then there have been many variants of the inflation hypothesis but there are no direct observational tests for inflation.
Another such patch is required because there is not enough matter in structures like spiral galaxies, galaxy clusters, and super clusters to keep them in the expected orbital configurations over billions of years. To solve the problem astronomers hypothesize the presence of exotic forms of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ that cannot be seen via light waves and cannot be detected in our laboratories! Not only must these exist but they must also exist in the right special configurations around those structures. Further, such exotic dark matter and energy must comprise a great majority of the matter and energy in the universe. Many scientists simply assume that all this must indeed be the case and that it will be so proven in due time.
Some other scientists have become very uncomfortable with the amount of ‘special pleading’ that is required by the Big Bang theory. In fact there is a group of 33 dissenting scientists that published a paper titled Bucking The Big Bang in New Scientists, May 22, 2004. Therein they critique the theory and the establishment’s refusal to fund research efforts to explore other ideas. These scientists have also established a web site, http://cosmologystatement.org/ , where many others have signed onto their dissenting statement.
Quantized redshift is an important anomalous phenomenon that has been well confirmed in recent years. This is the strong tendency for observed redshifts to occur at multiples of 72 km/sec. The Big Bang theorists seem to have no way to account for this data because the spatial homogeneity of the Copernican Principal requires a curved space-time without any center or edge. Some seem to simply discount the data. Others note that the quantized redshift data is consistent with a universe that has a distinct center that is somewhere near our galaxy. However, such a center is the antithesis of the Big Bang theory with its Copernican Principle.
In sharp contrast to the establishment, YEC physicists and astronomers have proposed some alternatives to the Big Bang that are yet early in their development. Dr. Russell Humphreys’ book Starlight and Time has suggested an outline of a white hole based theory that has a distinct center. Astronomy professor Dr. Danny Faulkner provides a fine overview of cosmological issues from a creationist perspective in Universe By Design. Very recently, Dr. John Hartnett, an Australian physics professor, published Starlight, Time, and the New Physics, a book describing his new theory that includes a distinct cosmological center and explains the observed data with no need for dark matter or dark energy. Dr. Hartnett’s theory also seems to explain how light from galaxies now billions of light years away can arrive here in a short timeframe. All should be interested in this work as it continues to be scrutinized by others and developed further in the future. In the past, the work of these men was an anathema not to be given exposure in any positive way, not to mention funded. Hopefully, that roadblock is beginning to break.
So, one can see that Big Bang cosmology is a good example of a historical science guided in part by a dominant materialistic worldview of the leadership. One can also see that there are substantial reasons to expect paradigm shifts in the future. Unfortunately, the other historical sciences are not in much better shape. We can find similar situations in evolutionary biology and historical geology. Starting with the first textbook definitions of science and continuing throughout education and careers, the current scientific establishment demands a materialist anti-god ideology as a matter of course without second thought. In their minds, this ideology is likely to be thought of simply as good science. In that worldview, reality cannot include anything in anyway supernatural so nor can science. The current versions of the historical sciences are to a significant extent a reflection of that ideology. This situation tends to be self-sustaining and to bleed the ideology problem over into the operational sciences as well. However, the operational sciences and modern technology do not suffer from the ideology problem to anything like the same degree because they demand direct experimental verification that is repeatable in the present and that strongly minimizes the assumptions, inferences, extrapolations, or “admixture of ideology.”
In the future, it will be very interesting to see how various theories develop. Will the current Big Bang ideas strengthen or die? Will the YEC scientists’ budding cosmologies bloom into something widely accepted? One thing we can be sure about is that there will be changes and sometimes these will come in very surprising ways and the established leadership will often not understand or encourage these changes. We should actively expect that change will come, sometimes as totally unexpected revolutions of thought. In the mean time, we all need to be keenly aware of the difference between operational science and historical science. In the historical sciences, we need take care to be aware of the underlying assumptions, extrapolations, and ideology. Failing these recognitions, we are not likely to say or do much that is well informed, fully truthful, or particularly effective in understanding the relationship between science and the Bible and the people and philosophies involved.
Many Christians suppose that with a little compromise they can use the Big Bang to build a bridge to the scientific establishment. These might point out that the Big Bang had a beginning and that the whole universe must be very finely ‘tuned’ to make life possible. But the materialist majority will commonly speculate that the beginning is the result of a quantum fluctuation and that one should expect a very large if not an infinite number of such universes so one of them will very likely have the conditions for life. With rather circular reasoning, they will argue that since we are alive we are in that particular universe where life can be observed, so, there is nothing supernatural required. They will conclude that there really is no need for “God”. Nor will many see any need for a “bridge”. Some will have fun deriding this variety of ‘ignorant’ Christian bridge builder just as they deride all the rest. Since the materialists are in control of the institutions it is they that determine who will receive research grants and what will be published in professional journals. It is the materialists who determine what will be taught to your students in the public schools and universities and that will not likely include much about such bridge building or fine-tuning.
To the bridge builders I would suggest that it would likely be most productive to address the foundational philosophical issues at the root of the divide between materialism and theism. Questions like whether the universe had a beginning or if it is finely tuned are germane. However, trying to massage the Bible into something attractive to materialist, who profess that there is no God to begin with, is not likely to be particularly honest or effective. It makes no logical sense for the Christian community to use the Big Bang or other historical science as a guide to the meaning of scripture. It would be far more effective to educate the Christian community, and particularly the students, about these root philosophical issues before they go off to college. The arguments presented by C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity are classic and enduring examples. Although the book is now somewhat dated in style, this book has no doubt changed many lives. The ability to recognize that there is substantial evidence for much more in this world than its material nature is a critical issue. This it seems is dealt with only poorly by the Christian community at present.
To Christian leaders I would suggest that it is important for Christian education to address the foundational philosophical contrasts between materialism and Christianity. In the public schools and universities our students will be immersed in an education program controlled by the materialist establishment. These students need to know, and be challenged by, the philosophical ideas they will continually encounter and how to relate to them without confusion. If students learn only what they should believe, many will continue to be confused by the philosophies of the world. Lack of education about the philosophical issues is a root cause of the problem. Further, well-educated students will be respected rather than ridiculed and in that way they will inherently provide a good and effective witness wherever they go.
To the science establishments I ask the following. Is your work truly an open-minded search for truth, whatever it may be found to be? Or, are you only willing to recognize truth that supports and maintains a predetermined ideology? Is the establishment constructively tolerant of a diversity of ideas or are its leaders just likely to see their opponent’s opponent as their friend? Is the leadership an intellectual victim of the corruption that inevitably seems to come with dominance and power? These important and difficult questions need to be faced with candor. I suspect that there is substantial room for improvement in all these areas. Two areas that need more emphasis in science education and science practice are these: 1) consistently stating assumptions and taking some time to consider alternatives and their consequences and 2) deliberately fund two or three non-dominant and contrasting lines of thought with 10-20% of total funding and make sure the best work in each minority line of thought gets some periodic publication. I suspect that such actions will stimulate more innovation and more forward progress, which is what we all desire.