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Section 1: What is Science?

History From the Beginning

Two Sources of Knowledge and Two Kinds of Knowledge About the World

There are two competing views concerning the sources of valid knowledge about the natural world which scientists study. There have been and are today scientists who stand on opposite sides of this division of opinion or belief. One party, the majority among scientists, philosophers and other scholars, holds that science provides the only path to valid knowledge about the natural world. The other party, a small minority, holds that there are at least two sources of valid knowledge about the natural world, science and divine special revelation in the Bible. The first party can be termed "secularists"; the second party can be termed "Christian theists," and is composed of Bible believing Christians. The secularists claim that they alone are true to science, that it is contrary to science to accept as valid any divinely revealed knowledge. They assert that only knowledge obtained and tested by the processes of science can be accepted by a scientist. They usually imply that faith has no part in their view of the world. The fact is, however, that their concept of a closed materialistic universe in which there can be no divine influence or divinely revealed truth is adopted by faith, not by scientific verification. Furthermore, their conviction that empirical science can, at least in principle, explain everything in the natural world is purely a faith proposition, grounded in a belief system. The secularists generally admit that scientific knowledge is to be held tentively, not as absolute truth.

The Christian position is that both science and the divine revelation in the Bible are sources of valid knowledge about the natural world. The findings of science are always, at least to some degree, tentative, but the divine revelation is absolute truth. This position concerning the biblical revelation is held by faith. Divinely revealed truth about the world is not scientific knowledge. This is because scientific knowledge is defined as knowledge which can be discovered by the scientific method. But the Bible reports truths about the world which science can never discover, prove or disprove. For example, Moses reports in the opening chapters of Genesis that God created the entire universe ex nihilo (i.e., from nothing) by the Word of His power. Science can never either prove or disprove this, although the findings of science certainly do not contradict this biblical truth about the world. Moses also reported that God created one man, Adam, from the dust of the earth, and a little later Eve, from the side of Adam. Again, science can neither prove nor disprove this, and the scientific evidence is not contrary to the biblical report. By faith Christians accept what God has revealed to them in the Bible. And this faith does not make Christians "unscientific" any more than does the secularists' faith in a totally materialistic, uncreated world, make them "unscientific."

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