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Science as we know it grew from pagan, occult, and biblical roots.

Christianity Today likes to emphasize the biblical sources. The story of creation, told in Genesis and elaborated in the New Testament, pictures a rational intelligence creating an orderly and predictable cosmos.

Without that predictability in the natural world, neither Newton nor Einstein would have been possible. There are times, however, when a careful reading of the natural world seems to conflict with our reading of Scripture.

Sometimes, Christian ways of thinking must adjust. Two famous names—Copernicus and Galileo—tell that tale. Other times, Christian thinkers adopt some of what scientific research suggests, but hold firm on key aspects of biblical knowledge. The name B. B. Warfield tells that tale: The Princeton theology professor (d. 1921) taught in the wake of the Darwinian revolution. He and fellow evangelical leaders saw good reasons to believe that humanity's physical form was descended from other animals. However, two key biblical teachings kept these theologians from eating the whole Darwinian apple.

First, in Darwinian thought, pure randomness was the engine of evolution. But randomness denies the divine Reason (the Logos in the language of John's Gospel) behind the creative process. Christians must root for intelligence over chance.

Second, Darwinian evolution challenged the belief that human beings were created in the image of God. This doctrine was a hedge against racist theories that would be used to subjugate, exploit, and eradicate undesirable people. Warfield rightly saw the dangers in Darwin, while trying to learn from the biological science of his time.

Now we come to another great moment of tension between Christian readings ...

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In the Magazine

June 2011

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