Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LHP Review: Approaching Science

Poythress, Vern S. Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach. Wheaton: Crossway, 2009. 381 Pages. Paper. $20.00. www.crossway.com (LHP)

The root meaning of the word "science" is "knowledge." That is not so any longer in the modern mind, hence the need to redeem the over-secularized humanistic discipline that itself is antagonistic to religion, especially Christianity.

Watch much science TV? I ache when the words "millions" or "billions" are used. I grieve hearing merely about a Gaia-like "mother earth." Seriously? This paganism is what passes for popular science? 

Redeeming Science could and should be read all the way through. And then it will serve its Christian audience as a useful reference, a tool of apologetics to help the Christian defend the faith (and other facts of God's world) against those who deem non-atheistic persons as unintelligent or misinformed merely for believing in God and a divine creation.
Many people think science is antagonistic to Christian belief. Science, it is said, shows that the universe is billions of years old, while the Bible says it is only thousands of years old. And some claim that science shows supernatural miracles are impossible. These and other points of contention cause some Christians to view science as a threat to their beliefs.

Redeeming Science attempts to kindle our appreciation for science as it ought to be-science that could serve as a path for praising God and serving fellow human beings. Through examining the wonderfully complex and immutable laws of nature, author Vern Poythress explains, we ought to recognize the wisdom, care, and beauty of God. A Christian worldview restores a true response to science, where we praise the God who created nature and cares for it. (publisher's website)
I did NOT have a favorable first impression of this book. That is MY fault. And, like most communication problems, there was an unfortunate miscommunication.  I misread the title of Chapter 9. It said, "The 24-Hour Day and Mature Creation Views." Was the author contrasting belief in a 24-hour day and creation views he thought were more "mature"? No. That would have been academically childish. He was contrasting a view called "mature creation" with the literal meaning of "day" in our life experience and how both are explanations of Genesis 1-2. 

Granted, he rejects the day-age theory, but he is far more comfortable than this reader with theological disagreement with regard to the creation of all things (114, 345, et al). He urges consideration of creation views that help the Christian "interact with modern science" (113). I applaud his goal, but still have reservations with how the author presents this supplement (116) to the 24-hour day view. And, I would recommend both to publisher and author a change in the way the Chapter 9 title is expressed. Perhaps quotes would help avoid a misunderstanding between The "24-Hour Day" and "Mature Creation" Views and how I initially misread the title.

Calling Christ the "archetypal scientist," Poythress continues: 
But my claim about Christ ought not to transform our understanding of Christ; rather it ought to transform our understanding of science. The corruption and idolatry in science manifests itself especially in this, that scientists seldom see their need for Christ in the sphere of science. Science needs redemption because of the turn of scientific law into an idol (chapter 1). And only Christ can provide that redemption..." (173)

Among the author's earned degrees are ones in New Testament, apologetics, and mathematics. Mine are in mathematics, history, and theology. Readers will appreciate the author's unique combination of vocations that uniquely qualify him to write this book.

"VERN SHERIDAN POYTHRESS is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. He has six earned degrees, including a PhD from Harvard University and a ThD from the University of Stellenbosch. He is the author of ten books, including Redeeming Science and In the Beginning Was the Word" (publisher's website).

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.