In a previous post, I shared my doubts on the declaration that God’s revelation in both scripture and nature is perfect, but that human interpretation is flawed. This was an answer given to tackle the ongoing tension between biblical and evolutionary understanding of the origins of life on planet earth and form some sort of reconciliation.
The issue is how sin has affected our natural world and the state man and nature are currently in. Man is made in the image of God, but that image is now marred and stained by sin. If a man were to judge God by the actions of men, as many men do, God would appear to be nothing more than a primitive, violent animal, a little less civilized than primates.
Christianity teaches that man has the possibility of being redeemed from his depraved state through a spiritual rebirth in Christ. This redemption is initially spiritual and internal and allows a man to overcome the marred weakness in his physical existence through the Spirit of God within him.
It is because of the Holy Spirit living within a Christian that Christians trust that the authors of scripture were able to overcome their outward imperfection to produced inspired scriptures that are perfect and inerrant. Today, Christians trust the Spirit to guide them as they read and attempt to understand the scriptures God has given them.
However, this spiritual overcoming of the physical curse does not apply, for the immediate time, to nature. Paul writes,
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
As man waits for the physical redemption of his body in the resurrection, so creation too awaits its redemption.
This means, though, that God’s revelation in nature is not perfect, but marred. The perfection was lost at the fall and will not be restored until the resurrection. It not unreasonable to harbor infinite doubts about the conclusions that science is drawing from its observations of nature. The source of their data is still marred and flawed and they may be compounding errors the deeper the speculations are made. In the science of mathematics, if a man begins with a mistake, every calculation made from that mistake will be wrong. In the same way, scientists who have speculated on the age of the earth and origins of man are gleaning data from revelation that is marred by sin and still awaiting redemption into perfection.
In this state, it is dangerous to trust completely any revelation made by nature or by man. Rather, Christians are encouraged to turn toward the one trusted source of perfect divine revelation, holy scriptures. As Matthew Henry said, “Divine revelation is not now to be found nor expected any where but in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament.”
In the twenty-first century, making the assumption that God’s revelation in nature is perfect carries with it an immense trust in the conclusions of scientists. Conversely, while the revelation in scripture is held as perfect, there is less trust in the conclusions of theologians than in scientists. Christians are being called to trust in nature more than scripture.
Until the resurrection occurs and nature is redeemed from its cursed state, it is dangerous to trust the conclusions of scientists and philosophers who trust implicitly what nature reveals. The intentions of scientists and philosophers to pursue the truth are well and good, but there is ample reason to be as agnostic toward science as many are toward scripture.