I received this request for advice recently from a university student:
“I managed to get into two philosophy classes: Classical (Ancient) Philosophy and Philosophy of Natural Science. The first is very interesting, but the second course I find rather difficult. For instance, we have to do a paper on "Is Creation-Science Really Science?" But under the criteria of most (maybe all) philosophers, creation-science is clearly excluded. Yet I can't see any way that Creation-science can be excluded! Indeed, creation-science has to be foundational to all the other sciences! So I was wondering, are there any definitions of science from a Biblical perspective? The professor gave us something from J.P. Moreland, to give us a creation-science perspective, but he's not a 6-day creationist, and seems to have some holes in his arguments. Well, I would much appreciate your advice. Your advice about philosophy has been very helpful!”
My advice is as follows:
I would recommend that you avoid semantic arguments relating to the definition of ‘science’. Rather, I would recommend that you take the standard definition of ‘science’ as it is found in such sources as the Webster’s Dictionary, and analyze it. Here is the definition I find:
Science - knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method and concerned with the physical world and its phenomena (Source: Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.)
Now, let’s analyze the definition. (At this point I would encourage you to buy a tape of what is called the “Great Debate” between the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen [Christian] and Dr. Gordon Stein [naturalistic atheist]. Much of what I am now going to say is taken from that debate on tape.) Various terms are used in this definition of ‘science’ from Webster’s Dictionary, including ‘knowledge’, ‘truth’, and ‘general laws’. Now the question to ask is this: if ‘science’ depends upon ‘knowledge’, ‘truth’, and ‘general [natural] laws’ for its existence (as the Webster’s definition implies), is ‘science’ an intelligible concept apart from the Christian Biblical worldview?
Let’s take the alternative worldview of naturalistic atheism (which reduces all reality down to the material level and denies the existence of the omniscient, revelatory God) that dominates many university campuses, for instance. How are ‘knowledge’, ‘truth’, and ‘general [natural] laws’ humanly possible with such a worldview? If the only thing that exists is material (as naturalism suggests), are ‘general [natural] laws’ material? ‘General [natural] laws’ are not material, for laws are not characterized by materiality. Laws are ideas and principles known only by intelligent beings. And the very notion of ‘laws’ governing how the physical universe behaves presumes an intelligent Governor of the universe who ordinarily governs according to those laws. As the Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary so eloquently expresses, “Law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority.” But the existence of an intelligent Governor and sovereign authority over the physical universe is quite contrary to the naturalistic worldview. Again, the naturalistic worldview of Darwinian evolutionary theory reduces all ontological reality down to the level of the material, and asserts that all that really exists are physical objects behaving according to chance reactions. If consistently applied, there would be no room for ‘general [natural] laws’ in such a worldview. And if there is no omniscient, revelatory God, how can there be ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’, if all that exists is finite and fallible. ‘Truth’ is that which is known for certain, but without an omniscient, revelatory God, man can know *nothing* for certain. Even that which a finite, fallible being thinks he knows is subject to error, so without an omniscient God, ‘truth’ is an unattainable, irrelevant concept. And without a revelatory God, man can have no true knowledge, for there is no sure foundation for knowing truth for man. And if ‘knowledge’, ‘truth’, and ‘general [natural] laws’ are not possible for man, then neither can ‘science’ be, according to the standard definition of ‘science’ found in the Webster’s Dictionary.
In contrast, the Christian Biblical worldview can account for ‘knowledge’, ‘truth’, and ‘general [natural] laws’. ‘Knowledge’ is that true understanding of the universe in the mind of the God described in the Bible, who imparts knowledge and the means to attain more knowledge to man. ‘Truth’ is that which the omniscient God of the Bible knows for certain. ‘General [natural] laws’ are the principles in the mind of God by which He ordinarily governs the physical universe. The omniscient, revelatory God of the Bible has indicated the scientific method of science is possible for attaining true knowledge- within limits.
We could also analyze other worldviews, and show how their internal contradictions are opposed to principles of ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’, for knowledge’ and ‘truth’ presuppose the absence of such internal contradictions. Contradiction is contrary to truth, and the existence of truth implies the absence of contradiction. Other worldviews are plagued by internal contradictions, but the Biblical Christian worldview alone among worldviews is absent such internal contradictions. (Worldviews which purport to be Christian, yet deny 6-day Creation, are examples of self-contradictory worldviews, for the Christian Bible teaches 6-day Creation, and Christ adhered to the truth of the Bible.) And so the Biblical Christian worldview alone among worldviews admits ‘science’, while also recognizing the limits of the scientific method for the attaining of true knowledge.
We should next consider the limits of human science. We had already pointed out that we can infer from scriptural principles that the scientific method is valid within certain limits. Specifically, how far can human science take us when it comes to the timing and order of origins? As I argue in the book at http://www.puritans.net/curriculum/darwin.pdf , science has not shown it can penetrate this barrier. While the scientific method is valid for ascertaining ‘general [natural] laws’ (i.e., principles by which God ordinarily governs the physical universe) of an on-going basis, scripture reveals at Creation, as well as at various other times and places, He has supernaturally intervened, governing the physical universe in miraculous ways. The scientific method is ill suited to ascertain such. There are no repeatable scientific experiments which would detect miracles of the past, for miracles represent occasions when God deviates from the ordinary laws by which He governs the physical universe.
But that is not the only limitation of the scientific method. The scientific method is not useful for attaining knowledge of many sorts of historical events. Could we conduct some scientific experiment to ascertain that George Washington crossed the Delaware, or that Julius Caesar conquered Rome? No. To attain historical knowledge of historical events, we must rely upon credible eye-witness accounts. Scientific experiments are of little value in attaining knowledge of history. The way we have to attain knowledge of historical events, including the historical event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (witnessed by many faithful men) and the historical event of the Creation (witnessed by Jesus Christ, His Father, and His Spirit), is different from the way we attain knowledge using the scientific method. But historical knowledge is as valid as scientific knowledge, including historical knowledge of miracles attested by credible eye-witnesses.
So where does that leave ‘creation science’? ‘Creation science’ has been defined this way: “The effort to provide scientific evidence supporting the account of the creation of the universe related in the Bible.” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright C 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.) If, as I have argued, ‘creation science’ is ill suited for revealing the timing and order of origins, is it of any use? I would argue its usefulness as a movement has primarily been in the realm of critiquing certain aspects of the materialistic evolutionary theory, rather than ‘proving’ the creation of the universe related in the Bible, which it is ill-equipped to do. The evolutionary theory has not been proved by science consistently applied, as I argue in the book at http://www.puritans.net/curriculum/eden.pdf and the book at http://www.puritans.net/curriculum/darwin.pdf. To ascertain the order and timing of origins, we are left to rely upon the revelation of the Triune God in the Bible, since the Triune God alone was eyewitness of the origin of the physical universe, and since it involved various miraculous events.
So perhaps I must disappoint you and say that I too have intellectual reservations that ‘creation science’, as it is generally defined, is ‘science’. For me to be intellectually comfortable with ‘creation science’, it would have to be re-defined to simply mean the study of the physical universe which recognizes the limits of the scientific method within Biblical parameters. So long as ‘creation science’, as generally defined, claims more than this, I must remain skeptical of creation science taken as a whole. But that does not mean I disagree with the revelation of scripture, such as the fact that the world was created in the space of six days. The universe was created in the space of six days, a fact I know not through science, but through the infallible historical account inspired by the God of the universe (i.e., the Bible).