The Creation versus Evolution debate is usually fueled by emotion

The Creation versus Evolution debate is usually fueled by emotion and extremism. On
one hand are those who think that Darwin was right on target regarding the origin of life.
On the other hand are the ones who want to make the Bible a scientific book and equate
truth to science. Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), but it is not
intended for instruction in geometry, astronomy or electronics: the circumference of the
circle may be learned from Archimedes and not from Scripture, which often makes an
approximation rather than exact use of numbers (1 Kings 7:23; 2 Chronicles 4:2).
As a scientist and a Christian myself, who is not troubled by the conflict between science
and religion, I would like to offer some explanations which I hope will help those who
are seriously interested in working this dilemma. Here are some basic points to consider:
1 - Not all that is scientific is necessary true. A theory may be wrong without being
unscientific. Science has to strive after truth. Incorrectness (due to lack of data or means
to discover them) does not detract from scientific character if the data have been used
correctly. The theory of continental drift was probable (1912), then completely "wrong"
(about 1940) and finally "true" (in the 1950s) when new facts and new explanation of
facts made generally accepted.
2 - Not all that is true is necessarily scientific. The naive world of the senses is not less
real than the world of physics ("the senses, too, have their truth" said Kepler) and "the
heart has its reasons which reason does not know” said Pascal.
3 - Not all scientific disciples attain the same degree of certainty or objectivity. Scientific
imagination plays a greater role in the physical explanations and in paleontological
sciences (history of the earth, the organic kingdom, the cosmos) than descriptive and
experimental sciences.
4 - Creation is not taking place now, so far as can be observed. Therefore, it was
accomplished sometime in the past, and thus is inaccessible to the scientific method.
5 - If evolution is taking place today, it operates too slowly to be measured, and, therefore
is limited to scientific hypothesis rather than laws. Evolution theory, however, as a
purely biological theorem, seems to be strongly supported by scientific data and
emphasizes genetic changes but should not be confused with evolutionism which is about
hypothesis on genetic improvements.
6 – Another complication is a philosophical one. Science uses an inductive approach
while the so called scientific creationism uses a deductive model borrowed from a
religious approach and consequently difficult to achieve scientific objectivity. The
Christian however, should not be troubled by the conflict between science and religion
and should not shy away from its responsibility to unfold creation via the scientific
method even when it may apparently contradict what we may understand concerning
some cosmological issues. We should not forget the spirit of freedom brought about by
the reformation and follow the words of N. Carpenter (1622): “I am free, I am bound to
nobody’s word, except by those inspired by God; if I oppose these in the least degree, I
beseech God to forgive me my audacity of judgment, as I have been moved not so much
by longing for some opinion of my own as by my love for the freedom of science.”
7 – Finally, due to the transcendence of the matter, comparison of purely scientific
models on the question of origins can generate non-objectivity in the debate. The
question of the origins transcends science. We need a cosmological (theological) model.
C.S. Lewis helps us on this score by pointing to the limitations of science and encourages
us to focus on the big picture: “Christian theology can fit in science, art morality, etc.
The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these, not even science itself.”
Therefore, there should be no contradiction in accepting evolution as a biology theory
and at the same resisting the idea that reason has evolved out of instinct, virtue out of
complexes, civilization out of savagery, and poetry out of erotic howls.
Sincerely yours
Paulo F. Ribeiro, PhD
Prof. of Engineering