Experimental Theology

*Abstract*

Is the Bible and Science a hard-and-fast separation, or are there strengths and weakness’s that both have? How does science reveal content that the Bible cannot reveal, while the Bible identifies content that is clearly outside the reach of empirical science?

Zach Baldwin

Kingdom Society Research

10/02/2014

Experimental Theology

Just as theoretical physics deals with mathematical projections and computer-generated models, theology generally has the connotation of only relating to church congregations, sentimentalism, and spiritual encouragement. But looking at the Bible from a literary critique’s point-of-view, the Bible is iron clad. It dwarfs anything else in the world of literature – period. So the question remains, what do we do with content in Scripture that describes real world objects? Some have no qualms with the history in the Bible, but then they are also accepting of what the Bible says because of the teachings of others, rather then their own, direct research.

My goal in this essay is to let the Bible do what it does best, and let dependable methods of science do what it does best, and break down supposed contradictions where there need not be. The Bible’s Old Testament language is a story-driven language, but it does have some good supporting function in that analogies are used to describe other things. Additionally, Cross references of key Hebrew words reveal light on what the language would have used words for, when to have used them, and why.

Science is about theory, and experimentation. That means that theories are produced only by evidence being observed, unaltered in nature. And then prior to being a theory, an observed idea must be tested. Theology is the study of God, and by way of discovery, involving Scripture in defining how God works, what He does, and how He made man, all of life is the consequence of the source of God. If, as the Bible says, God created the heavens and the Earth, then everything seen is from the mind of God. But there is a debate among theologians regarding Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. It is called the Restoration view. There are many theories that exist regarding the origin of Earth – Intelligent Design, scientific creationism, and the big bang theory. All are theories. Scripture actually appears to support several at once! But the operative word is “appears”.

Unavoidable Bias

As humans, we are intrinsically biased towards our own experience, upbringing, knowledge base, and beliefs. Where do these bias’ come from? I am going to propose that our beliefs are at the root of our bias. And beliefs (after a certain point) cannot be avoided either. They are apart of existing and learning, and interacting in the world. Unfortunately, if science begins with evidence, then scientists can find, or create evidence that will then lead to hypothesis’ and then theories, and if everything logically pans out – it passes peer review. So bias could be the cause of miscalculations simply because all considerations were not taken into account, and an objective selection of all possible theories were not collected. If science is bigger then any one person, it is also bigger then any one worldview demographic. Evidence should be coming in from nature using the most simplistic, quantifiable measurement techniques we have. And then research and experimentation should be done with the least amount of filtering (including proportions). Filters mask reality.

Imperfect Math

While I have an enormous respect for math, and I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten where i’d like to have gotten with it, I know it has some powerful applications. But how much should we rely on numbers, especially if we give “eye’s” to math that it shouldn’t have? Looking into the past with mathematical formula’s and algorithms presupposes a consistency of numbers, understanding of their correct use, and the things that they have supposedly already proven. It takes a ridiculous amount to get something to the level of “fact”. By this I mean, something observed has to be repeatable and measurable, it has to be quantifiable, and it has to be line up with other facts around it.

I trust math to prove things that are present in our time, and as far back as human beings are recorded as living. But I do question whether math can be *perfectly* reliable enough to predict events that have happened long before humans ever discovered math. I also call into question the repeatedly perfect calibration factor of man. Can he set up the experiment the same exact way 1000 times? Is there room for a small margin of error – and does that mean there is some approximation that is present? How much approximation?

Biblical Foresight

One thing the Bible has a solid claim on is prophecy. There is different sources that claim the Bible has about 1,800 prophecies, or 28% of all Scripture. And while many have yet to happen, non have been wrong, but rather, occurred exactly as the Scripture passage stated, which usually included cities inside of nations, specific locations of wounds on bodies, surrounding atmosphere etc. The Bible could claim the authority in a number of fields, but prophecy is strong evidence that God was the inspiration of the words in it. But this doesn’t just have to remain a tribulation decoder when Jesus returns, it can help scientists to affirm what has been suggested. It can supplement what is already a theory. This is like having the mind of God give of a taste of a foreseen future. These predictions would be based on things that are not subject to freewill, or they may not happen according to the prediction, but then prophecies come by the written word, and by the Holy Spirit’s spoken word. So prophecies spoken by the Holy Spirit would come to pass based on the continual belief of the person being prophesied over.

Theistic Evolution

One of the great debates of science and Christianity has been right here – how things began. Well, a more careful study of Scripture begs for Christians to consider other options that Scripture may actually support in addition to secular scientists being objective and considering God as a factor. In fact, deism might be kind of middle of the road, like an agnostic. A deist might claim that God set up the universe, and set the world in motion in the Milky Way galaxy, and then let natural processes take their course. An agnostic wouldn’t know whether God was in it at all.

But is it so hard to consider the possibility that God created the natural laws that govern our universe, that we universally understand as fact today? Did God have to hand shape every star in the unverse, set every planet into it’s orbit, and every asteroid shooting through space in a state of velocity that would carry it into it’s present trajectory? Or did God intelligently set up the universe to follow predefined rules and order that allow for a level of creativity that happens naturally, and yet still reflects the creativity of God? And if God did set up rules and boundaries, wouldn’t that allow for some amount of macro evolution? Must evolution automatically exclude God? Is there room enough to do some genuine Scripture research and proof such a notion wrong by a number of hermeneutically-correct points?

And since inanimate objects are not made in the image of God, He can wisely cause them to function in certain ways, unless it interferes with the free will of man. If God has given man free will, then God must allow for man to have some control over the world He is in. That is not to say that God is not generally in control – but is it Biblically in His character to micro-manage every little thing man does? In fact, Genesis 1:26 states God clearly giving man dominion over the Earth.

I recently watched a documentary which introduced the Cambrian explosion as something profoundly in favor of God’s design. While this might be a major chuck to swallow, is it possible that this supposed point in time of animal verity exploding onto the scene an indication of a “day four” event in the Creation account? Of course, this would fall into the old Earth belief system. But it means that there is some basic Biblical backing for the Cambrian explosion! And looking back to the time of the flood, the animals would not perhaps been as varied as they are today (if macro evolution is considered). Is it possible God created several taxonomic classes, which took on very different life styles when they arrives back on land in a vastly reformed world. Is it possible they cross-mated with other classes, and created the diversity that we now see today? Is it possible some died out?

Belief Foundations

At the root of our lives are our beliefs. The evidence we observe, the decisions we make, the friends we pick are based on beliefs. And beliefs may subtly, without our direct, intentional attention, affect our our decision making. But as our reason develops early in life, and curiosity starts to beckon, blanks begin to show up. Blanks that stand out until they are filled. Blanks that give identification to other things by way of comparison. So conclusions that seem logical will generally take precedents over those that are not appearing logical. The blanks are like black holes of mystery that desperately cry out for clarity. They can make an intelligent person turn away from his beliefs in favor of logical consistency. But if science, logic, and philosophy (generally) do not contradict God (though maybe Judeo-Christian Scripture), then a person feels satisfied rather then confused. And yet, science will not give life. Science is just the workbench tool set.

Realms and Dimensions

Theoretical physicists have long claimed the reality that we live in multiple dimensions. Three are tangible and visible(height/width/depth), and four are solidly measurable (time). This science calls “Spacetime”. But Einstein’s theory of relativity opened up a whole new world of exploration. Einstein was laughed out of major science circles, until they starting finding his formulas to align with understood concepts. I have heard predictions that extend out to ten dimensions, with the theory that more exist beyond them.

The fifth and sixth dimensions are described as the first of intangible dimensions that are not concrete. They refer to possibilities regarding the future, and are based on choice. So this is a striking parallel with the theological model of free will. And if the Open theism model is taken, then God see’s absolutes as absolutes, and possibilities as possibilities. He won’t forge the concreteness of the future until the individual makes the choice, but God can predict *very* well. Plato understood there were real things, and abstract things, in addition to a mental realm. Plato had a simplistic perception here, but this model can perhaps help to categorize the ten realms a bit.

Theists belief in physical things, and metaphysical things(spiritual things), and abstract things would include things like numbers, proportions, and properties. This “abstract realm” could be described more like an identification overlay HUD. It describes what things are composed of, how much mass they have etc.

Categorizing Life Subjects

While philosophy is one of those subjects that isn’t directly bringing new technology into the world, it is more then still relevant because it is asking the questions that strips away all the ornaments and glitter of life. It looks at raw ideas, and how they shape our perception of the world, and what we understand the universe, and ourselves to be. Theology is a little bit more pin-pointed, because while it still looks at raw ideas, it focuses more on understand the universe through understanding God, and what/who He made. Theology, in my view, is the ultimate subject. If science is the what, and Math is the how, theology/philosophy is the why. But philosophy does not look at the ultimate origin, but rather, it attempts to bring questions out that bring some intellectual closure.

Theology is a whole lot more then studying religion and church, in fact, the name refers explicitly to studying God. And, honestly, Logos in Greek (where much of academia get’s their suffix for study) has a translation of “word”. So naturally, theology uses Scripture as it’s primary textbook. But let’s not overextend the context of this paper. Having a why does not bring a change in life, there needs to be a what, and it needs be delivered somehow (how). I have always had an interest in science, and my respect for math has grown immensely as I progress into advanced algebra, but my focus is mostly on the why. Because in the end, I know that the why is the driving force, that brings order to the other two.

Calling it what it is

The supposed contrast between Science and God is not really at issue, as some have actually already stated, but rather the popular worldviews of atheism and theism. So, at the very least, theology need be present to define what it is that shapes basic foundational paradigm is. While science is truly an art, there needs to be theory that gives it an atmosphere to work. It utilizes a lab to observe evidence, but where did the reason needed to observe in the first place come from? Science cannot grasp what it cannot see I have always said.

Works Cited

  1. Jackson, Wayne. “ChristianCourier.com | Church of Christ Magazine Investigating Religious Doctrine, Christian Evidences, and Ethical Issues.” Christian Courier. Christian Courier Publications, n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. <https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/318-how-many-prophecies-are-in-the-bible&gt;.

  2. Lennox, John C. God and Stephen Hawking. First ed. Oxford OX2 8DR, England: Lion Hudson, 2011. Print.

  3. Menzel, Christopher. “Theism, Platonism, and the Metaphysics of Mathematics.” Philebus.tamu.edu. Christopher Menzel, n.d. Web.

  4. Oord, Thomas Jay. Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science. Eugene, Or.: Pickwick Publications, 2009. Print.

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