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by John N. Clayton

The Need

This paper is a part of the Does God Exist? program which was begun in 1968 by John Clayton as an attempt to show that intelligent, scientifically literate, thinking people can and should believe in God and in the Bible as his Word.  Your author, John Clayton, was a science teacher who began his teaching career in the public schools of South Bend, Indiana, in 1959 and has taught physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, and physical science until his retirement 41 years later. Since I was an atheist for many years and came to believe in God through my studies in science, it frustrated me to see students and parents who viewed faith and science as enemies. This was the basic reason for beginning the Does God Exist? work.  Since 1968, this program has expanded beyond our wildest dreams, and the need for this kind of work has been recognized by many individuals resulting in many other similar type of works being initiated.

The problem with many of these other programs has been that they have been rooted in religious doctrine to such an extent that all science has been interpreted by the religious doctrine that the author believed in.  Even when that is not the case, there has been a tendency for religious writers to quote people who came from a specific denominational tradition.  Ronald Number's book The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1992) has shown that almost all creationists were from a millennial tradition and built their arguments against evolution or against a long age to the earth from that particular understanding. The problem with this viewpoint is that, in addition to an incorrect understanding of the Bible, it frequently runs into a conflict with scientific evidence. This has caused many religionists to invent a model that explains the evidence, but which embraces bad science. Flood geology is perhaps the best example of this, in which the flood of Noah's day is used to reject all geological evidence which would suggest that the earth might be more than 6,000 years old. An historically-based proposal could lead to scientific discovery, so if the historical event of the flood is accepted one could look at its effects and make some applications to geology. What has happened in this case, however, has been that the model is accepted as fact even though it fails to deal with known scientific truth and this has infuriated many in the scientific community. I suggest that there is a great weakness in taking a particular religious view and interpreting science in terms of what you already believe religiously or vice versa.

The purpose of this booklet is to take a literal acceptance of what the Genesis record really says in the original language and compare it with the scientific evidence — the purpose being to see how closely they match. From a positive standpoint they must agree. If God gave us the Bible which tells us about what he did, there cannot possibly be a contradiction. If there is a contradiction, it is either because we have misunderstood the Bible or we have misunderstood scientific evidence. The lesson of the past has been that mankind has misunderstood both and has pitted his human traditions against his bad science, resulting in total confusion. It is bad enough that this has caused religious division and strife, but the damage it has done to the faith of young people makes it catastrophic in nature.

Several years ago I had a young man in my physics class who really brought this point home to me. I had gotten to know and appreciate this young man as he took my class in Advanced Placement Physics at Riley High School.  He was a brilliant young man and a leader in the class.  He also was extremely gifted in science and especially in physics. I had encouraged him to go on and make a career in science. The last day of school he came in to say goodbye and, as he got ready to go he said, “By the way, I just wanted you to know that I would like to major in physics in college but my parents won't let me.” “What do you mean ‘your parents won't let you,’ ” I asked. “They say science destroys faith and morals, and they want me to be active in my church,” he said. “They want me to major in something that will not cause me to lose my faith, and they say science is ‘Satan's tool.’ ” I called the young man's mother and found that this was, in fact, their viewpoint, and they had convinced him that his talents would be wasted and be destructive if he went into science. I have seen numerous cases like this one with parents and even had a counselor in my high school who had the same idea and steered many good, capable young people away from science. This is not a trivial issue. There is a great need to show that science and faith are symbiotic in nature — each beneficial to the other. You can logically, rationally, and reasonably believe in God, and you can believe that the Bible is his Word. It is my hope that this exercise will demonstrate that to you.


©1998, 2015 by John N. Clayton. All rights reserved.