Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 May 2023) | Viewed by 49902

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Department of Chemistry, Physics and Engineering, Biola University, La Mirada, CA 90639, USA
Interests: christianity and science; biophysics; archaeology; biblical studies
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Christianity and science have a long and deep relationship, which, in recent decades, has generated a stimulating dialogue among philosophers, historians, theologians, and scientists. The focus of this Special Issue is to highlight one aspect of this discussion: the influence of biblical perspectives on science both historically and in contemporary culture. It is intended to complement an earlier Special Issue of Religions, “Christianity and Science: Fresh Perspectives,” published in 2020-21.

Historically focused contributions will explore the connections between a biblical worldview and the rise of modern science: Was it merely compatible, genuinely helpful, or necessary in various ways for science to originate? Case studies of early scientists will provide a gateway to the broader literature in this field.

The contemporary questions to explore are rich and varied. Some of these are philosophical: Does science require naturalism? What features of a biblical worldview remain foundational to science today? Can a biblical perspective inform and guide modern science, for example, in defining human nature? Other questions are ethical: Where can a biblical perspective inform medical ethics and race theories?

Articles will also be sought that explore areas where science may influence biblical perspectives (such as archaeology and ex nihilo creation). We will seek review articles which cover the lively contemporary Christian dialogue in the areas of human origins, and the origin of the Earth. Lastly, we will seek contributions which explore the impact of viewpoint exclusion in science practice today.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to introduce this engaging interdisciplinary field to a broad audience, summarize the role of biblical perspectives in shaping science, and deconstruct some myths and stereotypes about the relationship between christianity and science. One desired goal of the contributions will be to provide bibliographic resources for further study.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400-600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editor ([email protected]) or to the Religions editorial office ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editor for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

Prof. Dr. John A. Bloom
Guest Editor

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • christianity
  • religion
  • science
  • ethics
  • philosophy of science
  • creation
  • human origins
  • archaeology

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 172 KiB  
Editorial
Introduction to the Religions Special Issue, “Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective”
by John A. Bloom
Religions 2023, 14(8), 1023; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14081023 - 10 Aug 2023
Viewed by 828
Abstract
Christianity and science have a long and deep relationship which, in recent decades, has generated stimulating dialogue among scientists, theologians, philosophers, and historians [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)

Research

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27 pages, 393 KiB  
Article
God, Gould, and the Panda’s Thumb
by Stephen Dilley
Religions 2023, 14(8), 1006; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14081006 - 7 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2051
Abstract
The panda’s thumb argument, championed by the late Stephen Jay Gould, stands as one of the most famous polemics for common ancestry. In this essay, I analyze Gould’s argument in several steps. First, I attempt to reconstruct the argument in both deductive and [...] Read more.
The panda’s thumb argument, championed by the late Stephen Jay Gould, stands as one of the most famous polemics for common ancestry. In this essay, I analyze Gould’s argument in several steps. First, I attempt to reconstruct the argument in both deductive and likelihood formulations. I contend that both versions of the argument rest on a theological claim—namely, that God would not (likely) create or allow a suboptimal panda’s thumb. I then argue that a wide range of people are not rationally obligated to accept this theological claim. Next, I give special attention to the likelihood formulation’s emphasis on a contrastive argument for evolution over special creation. I contend that a great number of people are not rationally obligated to accept this formulation either. I next consider and reply to an objection that Gould never intended the panda argument as an apologetic for evolution (and an attack on special creation) but rather as a critique of adaptationism. Finally, I argue that the panda argument conflicts with Gould’s broader views about the human mind and the relationship between theology and science. I also note along the way that the shortcomings of the panda argument apply to a number of other arguments for evolutionary theory. To be sure, I do not criticize evolution itself or the comprehensive grounds for it. Instead, my primary aims are to analyze the panda argument and suggest that caution is in order about similar arguments as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
33 pages, 1088 KiB  
Article
Christianity Cultivated Science with and without Methodological Naturalism
by Michael N. Keas
Religions 2023, 14(7), 927; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070927 - 18 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3748
Abstract
Many people assume ceaseless conflict between natural science and Christianity, but the real conflict has been between scientism and Christianity. Scientism is the view that only the sciences (especially not theology) generate knowledge or rational belief. I show how Christianity generated rational beliefs [...] Read more.
Many people assume ceaseless conflict between natural science and Christianity, but the real conflict has been between scientism and Christianity. Scientism is the view that only the sciences (especially not theology) generate knowledge or rational belief. I show how Christianity generated rational beliefs that contributed to the rise of science. This science-fostering rational belief included rationales for when to practice methodological naturalism, and when to study nature without that restriction. Both practices cultivated science, though in different ways. This historical difference is of enduring value for recent debates about metaphysical naturalism (atheism), creationism, theistic evolution, and intelligent design. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
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15 pages, 279 KiB  
Article
A Theocentric Environmental Ethic
by Garrett J. DeWeese
Religions 2023, 14(7), 913; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070913 - 16 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1534
Abstract
An influential view among environmentalists and ecologists is that religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular, not only have nothing to offer to environmental ethics but are actually hostile to the environment. I argue that a biblically informed theocentric environmental ethic of stewardship [...] Read more.
An influential view among environmentalists and ecologists is that religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular, not only have nothing to offer to environmental ethics but are actually hostile to the environment. I argue that a biblically informed theocentric environmental ethic of stewardship offers rich resources for duty-based environmental ethics in general and, in particular, for establishing grounds for restoration, conservation, and preservation of the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
42 pages, 540 KiB  
Article
On the Relationship between Design and Evolution
by Stephen Dilley, Casey Luskin, Brian Miller and Emily Reeves
Religions 2023, 14(7), 850; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070850 - 28 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4148
Abstract
A longstanding question in science and religion is whether standard evolutionary models are compatible with the claim that the world was designed. In The Compatibility of Evolution and Design, theologian E. V. Rope Kojonen constructs a powerful argument that not only are [...] Read more.
A longstanding question in science and religion is whether standard evolutionary models are compatible with the claim that the world was designed. In The Compatibility of Evolution and Design, theologian E. V. Rope Kojonen constructs a powerful argument that not only are evolution and design compatible, but that evolutionary processes (and biological data) strongly point to design. Yet Kojonen’s model faces several difficulties, each of which raise hurdles for his understanding of how evolution and design can be harmonized. First, his argument for design (and its compatibility with evolution) relies upon a particular view of nature in which fitness landscapes are “fine-tuned” to allow proteins to evolve from one form to another by mutation and selection. But biological data run contrary to this claim, which poses a problem for Kojonen’s design argument (and, as such, his attempt to harmonize design with evolution). Second, Kojonen appeals to the bacterial flagellum to strengthen his case for design, yet the type of design in the flagellum is incompatible with mainstream evolutionary theory, which (again) damages his reconciliation of design with evolution. Third, Kojonen regards convergent evolution as notable positive evidence in favor of his model (including his version of design), yet convergent evolution actually harms the justification of common ancestry, which Kojonen also accepts. This, too, mars his reconciliation of design and evolution. Finally, Kojonen’s model damages the epistemology that undergirds his own design argument as well as the design intuitions of everyday “theists on the street”, whom he seeks to defend. Thus, despite the remarkable depth, nuance, and erudition of Kojonen’s account, it does not offer a convincing reconciliation of ‘design’ and ‘evolution’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
18 pages, 3054 KiB  
Article
The Bronze Age Destruction of Jericho, Archaeology, and the Book of Joshua
by Titus Kennedy
Religions 2023, 14(6), 796; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060796 - 15 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 8436
Abstract
The ancient city of Jericho, located at the archaeological site of Tell es-Sultan west of the Jordan River and adjacent to the Ein es-Sultan spring on the edge of modern Jericho, has often been associated with the biblical city of Jericho and the [...] Read more.
The ancient city of Jericho, located at the archaeological site of Tell es-Sultan west of the Jordan River and adjacent to the Ein es-Sultan spring on the edge of modern Jericho, has often been associated with the biblical city of Jericho and the story found in the book of Joshua. The identification of Jericho with Tell es-Sultan is not disputed, and numerous excavation teams have affirmed Tell es-Sultan as Jericho. While excavations have also uncovered the fiery destruction of a walled city at Jericho, the date of the fall of Bronze Age Jericho and the association of this destruction with the narrative in the book of Joshua have been a point of disagreement among archaeologists for more than a century. The first excavations at Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) occurred in 1868 under the direction of Charles Warren, followed by soundings conducted by FJ Bliss in 1894, the expeditions of the years 1907–1909 and 1911 by Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger, the excavations of 1930–1936 directed by John Garstang, the 1952–1958 project of Kathleen Kenyon, brief excavations by Shimon Riklin in 1992, and the most recent excavations and restorations by the joint Italian–Palestinian team from 1997 to 2000 under Nicolo Marchetti and Lorenzo Nigro, followed by the 2009–2017 seasons directed by Jehad Yasin, Hamdan Taha, and Lorenzo Nigro. Although there is a significant deviation in views over the exact date of the destruction and abandonment, archaeological analyses of Jericho generally agree on the manner in which the city met its end, including a widespread fire, collapsed mudbrick walls, burning of the stored grain, and abandonment. However, assessing all of the archaeological data from Jericho IVc, both new and old, including pottery wares, Egyptian scarabs, a cuneiform tablet, stratigraphic analysis, and radiocarbon samples, allows a more definitive historical reconstruction concerning the chronology of the destruction of Jericho and its connections to the biblical narratives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
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17 pages, 288 KiB  
Article
Robert Boyle, the Bible, and Natural Philosophy
by Edward B. Davis
Religions 2023, 14(6), 795; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060795 - 15 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2591
Abstract
The great chemist Robert Boyle was also a serious student of the Bible and Christian theology, both of which profoundly influenced his natural philosophy. Christian beliefs and moral attitudes motivated him to extend human dominion over the creation by advancing scientific knowledge and [...] Read more.
The great chemist Robert Boyle was also a serious student of the Bible and Christian theology, both of which profoundly influenced his natural philosophy. Christian beliefs and moral attitudes motivated him to extend human dominion over the creation by advancing scientific knowledge and giving medicines from his laboratory to the poor. His outspoken advocacy of empiricism, over and against those who believed that unaided reason was sufficient to probe the depths of nature, was rooted in the conviction that the free, wise, and powerful Creator knows the creation far better than we creatures ever will. He vigorously promoted what he called “the mechanical philosophy”, partly because he found it far more theologically attractive than the pagan Greek conception taught in the universities, which conceived of “Nature” as a semi-divine being with a mind and powers of its own. It also underscored the great complexity of the world machine, requiring an intelligent Creator to have assembled it—thereby (he hoped) moving people not only to acknowledge God but to live piously and humbly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
9 pages, 216 KiB  
Article
The Ethics of Integrating Faith and Science
by Kenneth Keathley
Religions 2023, 14(5), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14050644 - 11 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2969
Abstract
Both faith and science can be defined in three ways: (1) a methodology; (2) a body of knowledge; and (3) an institution. In other words, each can be understood in terms of what it is, what it does, and who does it. The [...] Read more.
Both faith and science can be defined in three ways: (1) a methodology; (2) a body of knowledge; and (3) an institution. In other words, each can be understood in terms of what it is, what it does, and who does it. The third way of understanding science—as an institution—seems to be often overlooked. Thus, the ethical underpinnings and implications are also underappreciated. In the 21st century, any model of the interaction between science and faith must include an ethical component. This essay briefly surveys significant areas of disagreement in which the conflicts are demonstrated to be essentially ethical in nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
22 pages, 868 KiB  
Article
Biblical Perspectives as a Guide to Research on Life’s Origin and History
by Hugh Norman Ross
Religions 2023, 14(4), 547; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040547 - 18 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 8488
Abstract
The more than thirty spacetime theorems developed over the past five decades establish that the universe and its spacetime dimensions have emerged from a cause/causal agent beyond the cosmos. Thus, to infer that this cause/causal agent may have intervened in the origin and [...] Read more.
The more than thirty spacetime theorems developed over the past five decades establish that the universe and its spacetime dimensions have emerged from a cause/causal agent beyond the cosmos. Thus, to infer that this cause/causal agent may have intervened in the origin and history of Earth and Earth’s life resides well within the bounds of reason. Meanwhile, proponents of each of the three prevailing naturalistic models (abiogenesis, panspermia, and directed panspermia) for the origin and history of Earth’s life have marshaled arguments and evidence that effectively undermine and refute the other two models. A biblical perspective and approach to Earth’s life can help resolve this impasse. While a superficial and pervasive appeal to divine intervention thwarts scientific advance, so does a rigid adherence to naturalism. A productive way forward is to identify which models (or parts of models), whether naturalistic, theistic, or a combination, most effectively narrow, rather than widen, knowledge gaps, minimize anomalies, offer the most comprehensive and detailed explanation of the data, and prove most successful in predicting scientific discoveries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
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10 pages, 251 KiB  
Article
Concordism and the Importance of Hybrid Models
by Theodore James Cabal
Religions 2023, 14(3), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030351 - 6 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2180
Abstract
Concordism functioned as the consensus view in Protestant circles until the rise of Darwinism. Darwinism upended evangelical beliefs about the relationship between the Bible and science, and concordism began to fall out of favor. Subsequently, theologians began formulating statements which collated doctrines and [...] Read more.
Concordism functioned as the consensus view in Protestant circles until the rise of Darwinism. Darwinism upended evangelical beliefs about the relationship between the Bible and science, and concordism began to fall out of favor. Subsequently, theologians began formulating statements which collated doctrines and definitions in attempts to delineate boundaries for orthodox belief. Yet while definitions and doctrines are necessary for belief, they are not sufficient for fruitful discussion and discovery of how the early chapters of Genesis could accurately depict the Earth’s early history. With this realization, scholars began developing “hybrid models” which proposed intertwined theological-scientific theories in hopes of explaining both the known scientific evidence as well as the import of Scripture. Thus, even as concordism was disdained by theologically liberal academics, hybrid models multiplied, responded to new evidence, and achieved varying levels of adoption. Analysis of older hybrid models (as well as the recent hybrid model proposed by William Lane Craig) results in insights applicable to models more broadly as well as concordism in particular. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
11 pages, 762 KiB  
Article
What Makes Genesis Different?
by Joseph R. Miller
Religions 2022, 13(8), 730; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13080730 - 11 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3463
Abstract
In contrast to those who read Genesis 1 through 11 as myth, the story of Genesis is historical narrative with a theological purpose (theo-history). The Hebrew theo-history of creation was undergirded by a worldview that did not converge with her neighbors but significantly [...] Read more.
In contrast to those who read Genesis 1 through 11 as myth, the story of Genesis is historical narrative with a theological purpose (theo-history). The Hebrew theo-history of creation was undergirded by a worldview that did not converge with her neighbors but significantly diverged from the surrounding nations. While the literary style of Genesis has elements common to other ancient mythologies, the content itself is quite distinct. Unlike other ancient cosmologies, the Hebrew worldview perceived the people, places, and events of Genesis as historical and not merely religious symbols. The divergence of the Hebrew worldview from all ancient Near East (ANE) cultures is illustrated in three observations: (1) Genesis is monotheism not polytheism/panentheism, (2) Genesis is special revelation not cultic theology, and (3) Genesis is theo-history not myth or mytho-history. These three distinctives of Hebrew cosmology reflect a unique worldview shaped by divine revelation, and because Genesis was written in the genre of theo-history, Hebrew cosmology offers us a dependable foundation for knowing something true about our material origins, shaping ethical priorities, safeguarding the sacredness of human life, directing moral decision making, recognizing the significance of historical progress, and guiding scientific inquiry into the book of nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)

Review

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30 pages, 779 KiB  
Review
Comparing Contemporary Evangelical Models Regarding Human Origins
by Casey Luskin
Religions 2023, 14(6), 748; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060748 - 5 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 6308
Abstract
Multiple viewpoints exist among Protestant Evangelical Christians regarding human origins, with each offering different answers to questions regarding the existence of Adam and Eve and their relationship to humanity, common human–ape ancestry, evolution and intelligent design, humanity’s relationship to other members of the [...] Read more.
Multiple viewpoints exist among Protestant Evangelical Christians regarding human origins, with each offering different answers to questions regarding the existence of Adam and Eve and their relationship to humanity, common human–ape ancestry, evolution and intelligent design, humanity’s relationship to other members of the genus Homo (e.g., Neanderthals and Denisovans), and the timing of human origins. This article will review eight models for human origins which have recently received attention: (1) the Classical Theistic Evolution/Evolutionary Creationism model, (2) the Homo divinus model, (3) the Genealogical Adam and Eve model, (4) the Homo heidelbergensis model, (5) the Unique Origins Design model, (6) the Classical Old Earth Creationist model, (7) the Classical Young Earth Creationist model, and (8) an Old Earth/Recent Humans Hybrid model. Key features of each model will be described, and critical responses will be discussed in light of agreement or disagreement with traditional Judeo-Christian theological views and the scientific evidence. Most of these models maintain that science does not force one to abandon belief in core tenets of a traditional Adam and Eve, though they resolve the relevant scientific and theological questions in different ways and with varying degrees of success. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
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