Two Types of Science

Science Curriculum and the Bible #1

Time to read: 4 mins

This is the first in a series of articles from a secondary school Head of Science, exploring some key areas of the science curriculum where teaching contradicts the Bible. Whilst based on what is taught in UK schools, it will be relevant if you’re studying science at any level or have a general interest in Christian apologetics.

See also:

Can I believe what I’m taught in Science lessons?

Firstly, an important point…the vast majority of what is taught in the school science curriculum is completely true and compatible with the teachings of the Bible. However, there are some areas where theory is taught as fact without any conclusive evidence to back up the claims. As a science teacher, I am fully conversant with what is taught in schools and the misleading way in which evidence is often presented. This is the first in a series of articles to help you to work out what you can and cannot believe, and to give you a biblical interpretation of some of the ‘evidence’ you will encounter.

Two types of science

The scientific field can be separated into two categories:

  • Observational science – science we can observe in the present. We can do experiments over and over again, observing what happens and building up our understanding. This might be how certain chemicals react, what happens when we stretch a spring or the process of cell division. All these things can be observed, tested, repeated and used to make accurate predictions. They are scientific facts which have enabled us to develop all the technologies and medicines that we have today.
  • Historical science – this is the area of science which looks back at the past, seeking to understand how the world used to be and to answer questions such as, how did life begin? Historical science involves the study of things like rock layers, fossils and ice cores. Observations are made and then possible explanations of what might have happened are developed. The problem here is that we can’t go back in time and see what actually happened. We can’t make a prediction and then test it to see if we are correct because all the evidence we have has come from the past. This means that different people interpret the evidence in different ways, often depending on their wider beliefs and worldview.

So how do I know what’s true?

If you’re in a science lesson or reading a book, how can you decide whether something is true? There are two questions to ask:

  1. Ask yourself whether it could be tested and repeated today? If it could, then you can be pretty sure that it’s an example of true observational science. If it couldn’t, then it is probably an example of historical science.
  2. Not all historical science is false, so the next question is to ask whether it agrees with or contradicts the Bible. If there is a contradiction between what you are being taught, and the teaching of the Bible, then you can be sure that the Bible is right and the ‘science’ wrong. In Genesis God has given us an accurate account of the history of the world right back to the beginning of time when he created the heaven and the earth.

Just one note of caution, especially if you decide to challenge people on their beliefs. It is impossible for us to prove or disprove any theory of historical science because we cannot go back and observe it happening. This is just as true for Biblical interpretations of historical evidence as of any other. Whilst the Bible is trustworthy and true – and there is a lot of evidence to support this – ultimately it is a matter of faith. We believe that the Bible is true when it tells us that God created the world in six, 24 hour days, 6000-10000 years ago. The evidence backs up this belief, but we cannot categorically prove it in a scientific sense. The same is true of other interpretations of historical science such as the big bang which also rely on faith (although those who hold these views will generally deny this). However, we must not be arrogant when debating with others, but rather point them lovingly to the truth and pray that God will open their eyes to see it.

In future posts I intend to address some of the key areas where what you are taught in school science lessons contradicts the Bible and give you some pointers towards other articles you can read or videos to watch to help you understand the evidence in the light of a Biblical worldview.

Where can I find out more?
Below are links to a couple of useful articles. Note that these use slightly different terminology – ‘operational & origins’ science rather than ‘observational & historical’ science.

Science or the Bible? Ken Ham and Terry Mortenson, Answers in Genesis

Evolution & creation, science & religion, facts & bias, Jonathan Sarfati, Creation Ministries International

[A00069 – 07/04/2018]

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