Celebrating Science at Westmont

by David K. Winter

I have been troubled over the years by the fact that many Christian people are not very respectful of the sciences. My first teaching assignment at Wheaton College in 1959 involved courses in anthropology that dealt with “fossil men” and the early evidence of human life on earth. I was intrigued even then by the disaffection of Christians with science, for I discovered that many of the greatest scientists in history were motivated in part by a strong Christian faith.

If one believes that God is the author of both the Bible and scientific laws, then clearly there can be no real conflict between them. A most fundamental truth for evangelical Christians is that the Bible is God’s divine, supernatural revelation to us. It is also true that God is the source of “scientific laws” when they represent entirely accurate understandings of our universe—they are simply the discoveries made about God’s creative and sustaining relationship with our world.

The apparent conflict of Christians with science is really not with the vast majority of scientists who continue to seek and refine scientific understandings. It is with those “scientists” who go well beyond scientific fact and give the impression to the public that scientific evidence somehow rules out the existence of a Creator, that scientists have proven the absence of intelligent design in our universe. For example, “Darwinism,” as understood popularly, goes well beyond demonstrated scientific law in its all-encompassing theories regarding origins, and many scientists question those assumptions.

In like manner, some of the older interpretations of Scripture, such as a “flat earth” or a “seven-day creation,” are no longer considered essential to our faith, or even good scholarship, by most evangelical Christians. At times, I am afraid, Christians have been the reason for some of the apparent conflicts between science and Christianity.

At Westmont we have worked hard to build a truly outstanding program in the sciences. We can’t be a high quality liberal arts college without an excellent science curriculum and faculty. Nor can we be true to our Christian heritage and faith without affirming the value of this scientific inquiry. Westmont has always had strong faculty in the sciences. But in the last 15 years we have achieved a very high level of quality in each department.

There is a difference at Westmont—our faculty and students find affirmation for their personal faith in Christ and the trustworthiness of Scripture in the very process of seeking truth in the scientific laboratory. We are not apprehensive about the work of science; indeed, with enthusiasm we join the enterprise, for we have confidence that ultimately this will lead us even closer to the same Creator who revealed Himself in Holy Scripture.

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