Saturday, 16 January 2016

A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture, by Keith Mathison

Some Christians believe that the Bible very clearly teaches that the universe was made in six days and is less than ten thousand years old. They therefore argue that as science is fallible and the Bible is infallible, one should reject the conclusions of science in favour of Young Earth Creationism. In this book, Reformed scholar Keith Mathison argues that this approach is misguided.

Mathison argues, making heavy use of quotations of RC Sproul, that God's natural revelation in creation is just as infallible as His special revelation in Scripture. That does not mean that science, our interpretation of this revelation is infallible, but neither is our interpretation of Scripture infallible. Therefore, if the weight of scientific evidence contradicts our interpretation of Scripture, we may need to reconsider whether we have correctly interpreted the Bible.

This is a short book, but it seems to spend a long time labouring over quite a simple point. Catholics who are used to accepting the claims of science will probably find this book a little pedestrian in its accommodation of scientific theories. However, this reflects the high view of Scripture taken by Reformed Christians. While Catholic magisterial documents take an high view of Scripture, this is not always demonstrated in the writings of Catholic scholars.

I was disappointed that when it comes to the question of whether the Earth is millions of years old, the book quotes RC Sproul who says he does not know. Is that the best we can do? Is the age of the Earth really a fit topic to be agnostic about? I would say the evidence that the Earth is ancient is overwhelming and has been established by more than one scientific field. The antiquity of the Earth is not some far out radical theory that may change in ten years time, it is an area of solid consensus.

The book does not discuss the theory of evolution or specific ways of interpreting Genesis chapter one.

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