Deviating Views (Continued)
The scientist who wishes to proceed on the basis of faith, that is, who does not. make the fundamental error of attempting to adjust the Biblical account of things (in this connection, the account of creation in six days) to his scientific hypotheses, but who is willing to let the Word of God rule his science, must, in the second place, proceed on the basis of the Scriptural position that the world of today, which is the object of scientific investigation, is not the same as the world as it was originally created. By this I do not merely mean that it is different in some insignificant and accidental details; but our world is a vastly different, a fundamentally different world than that which Adam knew when he stood in the state of rectitude in paradise.
First of all, the Christian scientist must take into account in this connection the Biblical fact of the curse. Let it be emphasized in this connection that this curse in and upon creation is a fact. And science must certainly reckon with facts—not only with some of them, but with all the facts. And the curse that was imposed because of sin not only has its effect upon man, so that he has only remnants of his original, natural light; but it had and it still has its effect upon creation round about man, the object of man’s scientific studies. Moreover, the fundamental aspect of that curse is, of course, the wrath of God, revealed from heaven over all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Rom. 1:18ff. It is the plain teaching of Scripture that creation was thus cursed. Thus, for example, the beasts of the field are all cursed; and the serpent is cursed above them all. The animal world, therefore, is not the same as it once was. Compare, for example, in this connection Genesis 3:1, where we read that the “‘serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made,” and Genesis 3:14, where we are informed that the Lord God spoke His Word of cursing as follows: “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” Also in the world of plants the curse brought a change, as is evident from the word that was spoken to Adam: “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. till thou return unto the ground . . . ” Genesis 3:17-19. A general, but very significant indication of this change wrought by the curse we have in a passage like Romans 8:19-22: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” The entire evolutionary theory of a gradual change and development of things is contradicted here. Originally, indeed, creation stood in its beauty and perfection as it came from the hand of the Creator. There was no curse, no vanity, in all creation. There was no bondage of corruption. There was no groaning and travailing in pain of the whole creation. God saw everything that He had made; and, behold, it was very good. But a radical change was wrought through the fall of creation’s king, man. And that change is described in the terms of the passage from Romans 8. With man’s sin came the fact of creation’s being made subject to vanity, came the bondage of corruption from which the creature also shall be delivered, came the groaning and travail of the whole creation in pain together until now. And yet another change shall take place—not, indeed, by a development of the present creation from lower to higher, from bad to better, but through the wonder of grace. The creature shall be delivered into the glorious liberty of the sons of God!
And he who would study the universe, the work of God’s hand, must needs reckon, cannot simply ignore, this fact of the curse. To do so is simply not scientific! Apart from anything else, and however limited we may be in discovering how things were originally, we must face up to the fact that things are not now as they once were.
A second historical fact that must be reckoned with in this connection is that of the Deluge. True, unbelieving science scoffs at the whole notion of the Flood. The Flood has been “laughed out of court,” or rather, laughed out of the laboratory, as an utter impossibility. The sadder aspect of this is that Christians can sometimes rationalistically adjust the record of the Flood also so that they deny its reality as a universal catastrophe. They simply place themselves in the category of those whom the apostle Peter describes inII Peter 3:3, 4, 5: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” Scriptural fact .is, however, of such a kind that it must be reckoned with by any science that wishes to make conclusions about the “past” of the world round about us. Let me remind you, first of all, of the data of Genesis 6, 7, 8. Here we are plainly taught that the flood of was universal, first of all. And we are also taught that the flood was of catastrophic proportions as far as the cosmos was concerned: “. . . the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” All this was of such a nature that it marked the end of the world, according to Scripture. This is plain not only from the repeated comparison of the flood and the circumstances of those times with the end of all things and the circumstances immediately preceding it; but it is literally taught in Scripture. II Peter 3:5-7 gives this significant interpretation of the flood: “. . . by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and. in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” Mark you well, the world of Noah’s day is “the world that then was,” in distinction from the world of our day, which is “the heavens and the earth which are now.” Moreover, that “world that then was” perished.
All this is of tremendous significance for the natural scientist who seeks a Scripturally orientated view of things. These two tremendous divine interventions must be reckoned with in arriving at any theory as to the ages of things earthly. Not only this, but it is far more plausible to believe that many of those things which unbelieving science attempts to explain by taking recourse to millions of years (as has been done in explaining oil and coal deposits, for example) are to be explained rather from such earth-shaking events as the curse and the flood. And certainly, the fundamental premise of all so-called scientific methods of dating the physical universe is shattered by the Scriptural record. All the various dating methods of science, both those of today and those of the past, proceed on the assumption of a constant, uninterrupted rate of change. But Scripture makes it plain that there was no such constant, uninterrupted process. There have been, on the contrary, tremendous interruptions. Our world is different than the world as it was created—radically different, even though it is essentially the same creation. But if this assumption of natural science falls—and mark you well, even science must admit that it is nothing more than an assumption, a mere, unproven assumption—nevertheless, if this assumption falls, all the scientific dating methods fall with it. This, I submit, goes far toward furnishing a Christian, Biblical answer to the hypotheses of natural science.
Recently the local Grand Rapids Press carried a dispatch which spoke of this assumption in science’s dating methods. It speaks of two such methods: the carbon-14 dating method and the potassium-argon dating method. And the dispatch mentions that one method is being used to check on the accuracy of the other. However, the dispatch also mentions the assumption to which I referred above. What it fails to mention is that both methods are based on the same assumption; and since the assumption itself remains unproved, the use of one method to check on the other is like attempting to lift yourself by your own suspenders. Permit me to quote this dispatch in part:
“The accuracy of carbon-14 dating, a method used to measure the age of ancient objects, is about to be checked against another “time machine,” potassium-argon dating.
“The potassium-argon dating method already has been used to calculate that man-like creatures that made their own tools inhabited the earth about 2 million years ago.
“Now the method can be used to measure the age of volcanic minerals called sanidines which are as ‘young’ as 30,000 years old.
“This is within the time range in which radiocarbon dating operates. This method involves measuring the decay of the element carbon-14 and has been used often to date archaeological remains.
“A problem with carbon-14 dating has been that it is based on the assumption that the atmosphere has always contained the same amount of carbon.
“Until this assumption has been confirmed, or some check has been made on the radiocarbon dating method, scientists will be unsure about the ages of thousands of carbon-containing objects dated by this method.”
The dispatch then goes on to report some of the tests that have been carried out.
In conclusion of this phase of our discussion I want to make the following remarks.
1. The Christian should remember that what are often presented as the findings of natural science are mere hypotheses and theories. They are not conclusive findings. And science itself, if pressed, must admit that they are mere “guesses.”
2. The Christian may well remember that when he deals with Scripture’s record of things, he is not dealing with hypotheses, but with truths and with facts. This is true of the creation record; it is also true of the subsequent history of the universe as recorded in Holy Writ. True, unbelief will not accept Scripture’s record on these things. Such is always unbelief’s prejudice. The fact that wicked men will not believe Scripture, but mock at it, does not make Scripture less true. And the Christian faith certainly cannot proceed scientifically on unbelief’s basis. But this is the choice: science on the basis of faith, or science on the basis of unbelief. The former is true; the latter is per se false.
3. The Christian need not assume the defensive or ever be ashamed of his Christian bias in the realm of science. Nor need he compromise. He ought rather to develop his own science and scientific theories from the principle of faith and regeneration, at least in as far as this is necessary and possible.