Revelation and Rocks

What is your reaction as you look at the beautiful petrified logs on our cover? I had a gentleman tell me at a lectureship one time that petrified wood petrified him. I asked him what he meant, and he said that he could not explain the existence of logs like those in our picture. I started to try to explain to him how science believes the wood was replaced by quartz and he said, "No, I mean that these logs out in this desert don't make sense to me."

I appreciated his candor and told him I thought his problem was very common. People struggle with dinosaur bones, fossil remains of ancient primates, and sometimes with the lack of fossil remains. Whether it is a religious fundamentalist or an atheistic evolutionist who is looking at the fossil, there is a problem with bias. Both of these extremists struggle with the same defect. They have formulated a personal view of the history of life upon the earth, they have invested heavily in that personal view (in many ways--financially, morally, religiously, and philosophically). They are so locked into that view that when a fossil shows up that does not fit their view they either ignore it, claim it to be a mutant, or deny its existence as a real specimen.

Examples of this process abound on all sides. There have been religious fundamentalists in the past who have denied the existence of dinosaurs, claimed human remains and dinosaur bones exist together, claimed marine fossils or footprints existed in volcanic rocks, and denied the validity of fossils not easily identifiable. In the same way there have been militant atheistic evolutionists who have denied the complexity of early forms of life, faked fossils, misrepresented the strata in which fossils were found, and denied the ease with which fossils can be classified.

The evolution/creation controversy has catalyzed this process on both sides. I recently had a man ask me whether I felt we should filter science through the Bible or filter the Bible through science. The question is really more of an accustation than it is a search for answers. If you filter the Bible through science you interpret scripture in terms of what science believes at the moment. This is a dangerous thing to do because science changes. Some ideas of science looked at as foolish in today's world were considered to be unquestionable 100 years ago. If you modify your understandings of the Bible to fit the current scientific theory you will almost certainly make errors in your understanding of the Bible.

This is also true if you filter science through the Bible. There are two major problems when one tries to do this. The first is that you may misunderstand the Bible and thus wrongly interpret science. The second is that very little of the Bible is written for the purpose of revealing scientific fact. Interpreting science by using a book of poetry or history would clearly cause you to misunderstand the science. The Bible contains books of poetry as well as books of history.

It is our contention that the philosophy that Jesus expressed when He said "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's," is the correct way to function. There is no need to filter anything through anything else. In those cases where science and the Bible do happen to address a common question, let each of them make their point. It is our contention that if this is done, they will eventually agree on the question at hand. The lesson of history has been that if there is a conflict between science and the Bible there has either been bad science or bad theology or both. And there has been a lot of both.

If God created and made everything there is, and if He then told us about it in His word, there is no way the two can conflict.

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, SepOct98.