“…Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3
Adam was created with knowledge–with the knowledge that he was a creature of God, with a language with which to think and to talk with God and receive more knowledge from God. Adam naturally and spontaneously believed God, experienced His love and care, and responded with loving obedience. Adam learned by experience also, as he served and had fellowship with his Creator in the Garden, but he always had the perfect wisdom and personal counsel of God to guide him in his experience and learning about the world and its plants and animals which God had created.
Thus, our first parent was also the first scientist, for a scientist learns about the natural world by means of human experience. But for Adam this kind of learning came second and was always subject to and guided in accordance with the knowledge that God gave him as they communed from day to day. God had commanded Adam to “subdue” the natural world and “have dominion” over all its creatures. This required that Adam learn about the world so that he could exercise dominion over it for the glory of God, intelligently and obediently. (Genesis 2:19-20)
The Fall and Its Consequences
Adam could learn all he needed to know in a good and perfect world if he continued to believe and obey his Creator. But there was a knowledge forbidden to him, the knowledge of “good and evil.” Our first parents, exercising their free will, did disobey and immediately knew both good and evil. They had performed a single experiment with disobedience which plunged them and the race which sprang from them into a history of rebellion, wickedness and unbelief, just the opposite of God’s will for mankind created in His image. The Fall resulted in the corruption and ruin of every human capacity and attribute, including his intellect, affections, moral capacity and will. (Romans 5:12ff)
Down through the millennia since Eden, time and sin’s degenerative effects caused the knowledge of God to become distorted and fade from the collective consciousness of the race (Romans 1:19ff). But the defaced divine image in man caused him still to desire to know. Cut off by his unbelief and sin from receiving knowledge by the divine Word, man was shut up to learning by his own experience, by science. So great was the power of even the ruined human intellect, that knowledge flourished, secular knowledge apart from God and from His Word. But such knowledge, though it may bear some good temporal fruits, is really darkness, not light. Into the darkness God from time to time sent light, by His Word, delivered by His inspired prophets. Some in every generation responded in faith to the message of grace, but the mass of humanity continued to stumble on in the darkness of their secular knowledge. God spoke through the patriarchs, through the nation of Israel and her prophets, and finally through His son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent into the world to become man, the God-man, who gave Himself and died the death for sin on a cross, was buried and rose again from the dead–all to redeem the rebel people from their darkness and sin (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Modern Science and the Two Streams of Faith
After Christ’s resurrection and ascension the Christian Church bore witness to the Truth, and following the dark period of the Middle Ages, this truth of the Gospel broke forth in the renewed brightness of the 16th century Reformation. The Word of God, the Bible, illuminated many nations and wrought a transformation of western society. One of the fruits of biblical faith was the founding of modern science, which depended upon the Christian concept of an infinite-personal God who created a real, lawful and knowable world which was worthy of systematic study. Modern science was founded by men who believed the gospel and who believed in the Creator-God of the Bible. They believed that they were studying God’s creation for His glory. They were not stumbling in the darkness of the ancient pagan philosophers who did not have the light of the Word of God concerning creation. They believe that there were two paths to knowledge, the way of human experience, i.e., science, and the way of faith, i.e., the written Word of God. But the latter, the Bible, was held to be of supreme authority. They were men of faith as well as men of science.
One medieval philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church, Anselm, set down the basis of man’s knowledge in the 11th century when he wrote, “I believe so that I may understand.” He was saying that man must first establish a right relationship with the Creator by faith, believing what God says, before he can rightly understand the world and his own place in it. Reason must be subject to faith that is informed by the Spirit of god. This expressed the view of knowledge adopted by the Protestants who came out of the Reformation. It is the biblical view, revealed theology, which is received by faith in the biblical revelation. (I Corinthians 2:9-16)
Some two centuries later Thomas Aquinas, chief of Catholic theologians, made faith subject to autonomous human reason. Man must first establish by reason the logical proof, for example, of the existence of God. Then faith would be justified. Reflection upon the nature of things could lead to the knowledge of God and His relationship to His creatures apart from the Bible, and faith is thus sustained by reason. This is natural theology, which might be characterized by the maxim, “I understand so that I may believe.” Human reason was held to be autonomous, independent.
The Faith Undergirding Darwinism
So there were two streams of faith–in human reason and in divine revelation–which competed for the western mind. Gradually, after the Reformation period, faith in divine revelation receded and faith in autonomous human reason advanced. In science the competition between the two philosophical grounds for the scientific enterprise came to a decisive climax in the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Darwin had rejected the sovereign God of the Bible, Creator and providential Ruler and Sustainer of the universe. He purposed to remove from science any concept of divine plan, purpose or design in the world, any possibility past, present or future, of divine intervention in the world. And Darwin succeeded. Science soon began to be remolded after his model and men of faith were first silenced and then excluded from the Establishment, although some silent ones and a very few vocal men of faith remained.
Most practitioners of science today hold that the only way to knowledge about the natural world is science. They deny, therefore, that divine revelation in the Bible can afford to man any true knowledge about nature. They include that denial in their definition of science, but this is an error, a distortion of science. It cannot be proved that science is the only source of knowledge about the natural world. It cannot be proved by science that the biblical revelation about the origin of the world is not true. Science cannot prove that divine revelation is not a source of true knowledge, particularly concerning origins. Belief in science as the only way to such knowledge is a faith, just as much as is faith in divine revelation. Faith in autonomous human reason is a faith, even as is faith in divine revelation. And neither one is science.
Failure and Hope
The tragic fact about the supposed progress for science accomplished by Darwin is that it put modern back with the ancient, pagan scholars who struggled in the darkness produced by their reliance upon human reason coupled with ignorance or rejection of divine revelation. Sadly, much of the professing Christian Church has regressed with secular science back into the same darkness. Even the so-called evangelical churches are being drawn into compromise with it, so great is the desire to be respected by the secular scientific Establishment.
Yet there is hope, for the Word of God is powerful and living. The people of God are beginning to stir, beginning to see their responsibility to bear witness to the whole counsel of God. They are becoming willing to stand for divine truth against secular error, however impressive its scholarly credential may be. Increasing numbers of Christians, many scientists among them, are coming out into the open with a firm declaration of their rejection of evolution and their faith in the biblical record of creation. They are unashamed to own their faith in the Jesus Christ, the unchangeable divine Lord of His creation and the coming Judge. They intend to see God and the Moral Law again honored in the nation’s public life.