The Christian Faith and Scientific Inquiry

Douglas Groothuis, in his excellent book Christian Apologetics, spends quite a bit of time discussing Christianity and science.  I found many of his discussions helpful and refreshing.  Here’s one section where Groothuis gives ten ways “in which Christian belief creates a hospitable environment for scientific inquiry.”  These ten ways, Groothuis noted, are found in more detail in Ken Samples book, Without a Doubt (another book Andrew and I highly recommend).

1) The physical universe is an objective reality, which is ontologically distinct from the Creator (Gen. 1:1, John 1:1).

2) The laws of nature exhibit order, patter and regularity, since they are established by an orderly God (Ps. 19:1-4).

3) The laws of nature are uniform throughout the physical universe, since God created and providentially sustains them.

4) The physical universe is intelligible because God created us to know himself, ourselves, and the rest of creation (Gen. 1-2, Prov. 8).

5) The world is good, valuable, and worthy of careful study because it was created for a purpose by a perfectly good God (Gen. 1).  Humans…were created to discern, discover, and develop the goodness of creation….

6) Because the world is not divine and therefore not a proper object of worship, it can be an object of rational study and empirical observation.

7) Human beings possess the ability to discover the universe’s intelligibility, since we are made in God’s image and have been placed on earth to develop its intrinsic possibilities.

8) Because God did not reveal everything about nature, empirical investigation is necessary to discern the patterns God laid down in creation.

9) God encourages, even propels, science through his imperative to humans to take dominion over nature (Gen. 1:28).

10) The intellectual virtues essential to carrying out the scientific enterprise (studiousness, honesty, integrity, humility, and courage) are part of God’s moral law (Ex. 20:1-17).

“While Christianity and science have had their scuffles, there is nothing inherent in the Christian worldview that is inimical to science rightly understood.”

Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics (Downer’s Grove, IVP, 2011), 102-3.

shane lems

8 thoughts on “The Christian Faith and Scientific Inquiry”

  1. “While Christianity and science have had their scuffles, there is nothing inherent in the Christian worldview that is inimical to science rightly understood.”
    I don’t know of any one who would disagree, aside from some YECs, the inherent problem is Adam and Eve, did they exist? Theistic evolutionists will say no and that has dire consequences. Hopefully such arguments are to be pushed for OECs and not TEs, where the historicity of Adam is backed up. Interestingly, I was reading John Lennox’s Seven Days that Divide the world, and he notes how two evolutionists are even suspicious of the general lack of inquiry or peer review of the evolutionary theory, while everything else in science there are two or more competing theories.


    1. I don’t know of any one who would disagree, aside from some YECs, the inherent problem is Adam and Eve, did they exist?

      To clarify, are you saying that there are credible YECs who would say that science and the Christian worldview are in tension? Who are they? Which ministries? All of the YEC teachers I have read or talked to (to include a geologist and a paleontologist) affirm the unity of science and scripture.

      I’m somewhat new to the OEC/YEC issue, and while I tend to gravitate towards YEC, I don’t see that science and the scripture are in tension now any more than people thought they were in the days of geocentricity (As an aside, I would add that geocentricity was not a Christian invention as we are often taught- it was held to as a result of the teachings of Ptolomy and Aristotle).


      1. Two words…Kent Hovind….There are others no doubt, probably fundamentalist fringe groups already touted as false and a scam by YECs like ICR, creation ministries and Answers in Genesis.
        I was leaning YEC for awhile after my ignorant bout with TE and Biologos, but I realized the logical implications and on top of that they never quoted scripture and didn’t take the Bible seriously but felt they had to interpret the Bible or sin or the Gospel through evolution. Anyway, YEC seems a good fit at the time, though they may be right, I gravitate toward OEC, but don’t necessarily see the two as whole exclusive of one another, though sometimes the OEC still takes most science at it’s word…
        I would agree with you on the last sentence; people love to through that in there as a straw man as why to reject Christianity. Though Calvin was a geocentrist, the main geocentrists revolved around the Catholic church, as if somehow the Catholic church speaks for all. In order to make up for it they’ve adopted theistic evolution.


  2. I am reading this book right now. This post continues to “wet my appetite” for this excellent resource.


  3. Groothuis’s comments are extremely helpful! “Science” is all the things we like to call it–objective, rational, subject to review, public, etc. Unfortunately science is practiced by scientists and scientists are human, thus subject to all those human foibles of ambition, prejudice, flattery, inconsistency in argumentation. In fact, they are very much like theologians!
    I am amazed that so many “scientists” who notionally subscribe to the idea that all events are random do not see that the chemical events of their reasoning brains must also be random and that these therefore can offer no assurance that reasoning will issue in truth. Does this Nagel fellow who wrote a book recently comment on that?


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