Barry Newman's Blog

October 10, 2010

Science and Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 3 (part I)

Filed under: Christianity,Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 3:41 am

Science and Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 3

We live in an age of scepticism concerning things Christian – the gospel and the fundamentals that underpin it. This scepticism has many facets.  Questions arise that are of an historical, moral or philosophical nature.  However perhaps the most common doubts with respect to the claims of the Bible, if not downright denials of the claims, in our society, have as their origin matters of a scientific nature. 

Today, this type of scepticism is undoubtedly fuelled directly by the writings of such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking and many like them or indirectly when their views are given popular expression in the media.  In the year 2003, 149 professional evolutionary scientists who had been elected to membership in 28 honorific national academies around the world were asked a number of questions to elicit among other things their belief or otherwise in a personal God not necessarily the God of the Bible. Only 2 out of 149, could be described simply but fundamentally as theists.  The rest described themselves in terms beyond and way beyond any simple idea of theism. These results are symptomatic of a world-wide ever increasing academic scepticism of religion generally, let alone Christianity.  Of course there has always been some scepticism but the evidence is that such scepticism has been on the rise. In 1914 a survey carried out among those classified as “greater” American scientists found that 32 % believed in a personal God – a God to whom one could pray in the expectation of receiving an answer. The same questionnaire was repeated in 1933.  Now, however, belief in a personal God had dropped to 13 %. In both of these polls a belief in God was less common among biologists than among physical scientists. In 1998 another poll found that only 10% of members of the National Academy of Sciences believed in God. What was discovered in all three surveys was that these scientists’ lack of belief in a personal God was accompanied by a similar disbelief in immortality. The 2003 survey simply indicated that matters have become even more serious.  Of course such unbelief doesn’t confine itself to the academic world. The increasing scepticism of the western and beyond the western academic world is slowly but steadily filtering from that world into the thinking world at large.

Questions such as the following lie at the back of many people’s minds.

Is the God of the Bible real?  Surely Jesus was just a man who was well known as a teacher but could never have performed the miraculous so often attributed to him.  His death was a tragedy but presumably his so-called resurrection a hoax or the creation of the self-deluded.  What about all those other planets we are recently discovering? Doesn’t their existence strongly suggest that there are other life forms in our universe, life forms of which the Bible knows nothing? Haven’t the well established facts of evolution and our knowledge of how the universe came into being put the lie to God being the creator?  We now know that the first humans appeared hundreds of thousands of years ago – that doesn’t seem to fit in with notions of an Adam and Eve just a few thousand years in the past. The universe has been around for a very long time, for 13 or so thousand million years but Christianity is only a recent phenomenon and seems to have only recent events in mind.  We now know that our world will continue to exist for millions of years yet to come. The idea that God in the near future would make a new heaven and a new earth seems preposterous.  The belief that all of humanity would one day rise from the dead and that the behaviour of all humans would be examined by a cosmic judge, seems like something to frighten little children.  Surely the psychologists and sociologists of today give us an understanding of morality and human behaviour that makes the Bible antiquated and positively unhelpful if not dangerous.

One of the most significant areas that we believers need to address is the scepticism that arises because of what is perceived to be the consequences for belief of commitment to certain cosmological, biological evolutionary, anthropological, psychological and sociological theories.  This blog series will attempt to examine afresh the early chapters of Genesis to see what implications there are for such theories.  Its main emphasis however will be the text of Scripture itself rather than the theories themselves.


1 Comment »

  1. […] the first post and the […]

    Pingback by Science and Genesis | The Resolute — October 24, 2010 @ 11:52 pm | Reply

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