Science in the Light of Faith

One subject I enjoy reading about is the intelligent design movement and its arguments against natural origins. And believe me, there's a lot to read. Recent years have seen an explosion of books, articles, and websites on the subject of intelligent design. Scientists, philosophers, and theologians have all contributed valuable insights to the debate. But I think I can safely say that, with all of this reading, I've never read a book by an eminent scientist and intelligent design advocate that ended with a presentation of the Gospel -- never, that is, until now. Henry F. Schaefer's book Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? does exactly that. As his book's title indicates, Schaefer, a five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize, has spent a lot of time studying and teaching about the relationship between science and faith. So his writing is clear and compelling not just on intelligent design, but also on a whole range of other issues that are of interest to both people of faith and people of science. But I think his treatment of the intelligent design issue is one of the best parts of the book, because it shows Schaefer meeting nonbelieving scientists on their own ground and using their own observations to undermine their arguments. Schaefer quotes the brilliant scientist and agnostic Stephen Hawking, who wrote that a good theory "must accurately describe a large class of observations" and "must make definite predictions about the results of future observations." While acknowledging the strengths of the "standard evolutionary model" in the first area, Schaefer points out that it has serious weaknesses in the second area. He writes, "Over the past 150 years evolutionary theorists have made countless predictions about fossil specimens to be observed in the future. Unfortunately for these seers, many new fossils have been discovered, but the interesting ones almost always seem to be contrary to the 'best' predictions." Schaefer then contrasts the theory of evolution with other theories, such as the atomic theory and the theory of gravity, which are able to make precise predictions of future events, such as when Halley's Comet would appear -- predictions, Schaefer says, that turned out to be true in his lifetime. So, contrary to what many believe, the theory of intelligent design isn't just something people believe because the Bible tells them so. It's something we believe because it makes sense and describes the real world far better than the alternative theory. As passages like this demonstrate, Schaefer's book is a wonderful resource for the high school or college student interested in studying science. In fact, it's ideal for parents to go through with their high school or college-age kids. Schaefer's own story of coming to faith in Christ, his descriptions of many other prominent scientists who are Christians, and his desire to share his faith will be an encouragement to kids who are wondering if their love of science is compatible with their commitment to God. And his exploration of issues like intelligent design will not only demonstrate to them how God has manifested Himself through nature, but also provide them with an excellent example of how their own gifts can be used for God's glory. For further reading and information: Dr. Henry F. Schaefer III, Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? (University of Georgia, 2003). You can order this book ($20) from BreakPoint: 1-877-3-CALLBP. Read the table of contents from the book and read comments from others. Jonathan C. Rienstra-Kiracofe, "God Is in the Details," Books & Culture, 23 February 2004. Read lectures by Dr. Henry Schaefer.
  1. P. Moreland, "What is Scientific Naturalism?Boundless, 4 March 2004.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 040105, "Scientists and Their Gods: The Question of Coherence." BreakPoint Commentary No. 040301, "Charles Darwin Knew: Science and Freedom." Learn more about intelligent design at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. See BreakPoint's "Worldview for Parents" pages: "Micro- and Macroevolution: Is There a Difference?" and "Did Life Evolve?" "Dispelling the Myth of Darwinism" -- Learn more about the June 24-26 Intelligent Design Conference which the Wilberforce Forum and Community Bible Church in Highlands, North Carolina, are cohosting. (Register by April 30 to take advantage of the early bird rate.)


Chuck Colson


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