Geoscience Research Institute

IN A FEW WORDS

Origins 9(1):3-4 (1982).

Brief summaries of the main conclusions of the leading presentations are given below for those who may find the complete articles too long or technical.


PERCEPTIONS OF THE NATURE OF SCIENCE AND CHRISTIAN STRATEGIES FOR A SCIENCE OF NATURE

    Attempts to resolve perceived conflicts between scientific theories and theology often rely heavily upon certain assumed characteristics of science. The author surveys several philosophies of science, noting attractive features as well as limitations.
    Baconianism entails the common-sense notion that a methodical collection of facts will eventually lead to the laws of nature. Logical Positivism claims that experience is the basis of all legitimate knowledge, excluding metaphysics and theology. Karl Popper advocates falsification as the crucial means of eliminating error and insuring the progress of science. Thomas Kuhn describes science in sociological terms: a community with a commitment to a collection of shared beliefs, techniques, and goals. Norwood R. Hanson emphasizes the explanatory function of scientific theories: science is the pursuit of patterns. Paul Feyerabend accentuates the human element in science, with concomitant characteristics such as fallibility, and inconclusiveness.
    Following a brief discussion of the complexities of observation in science, the author explores some possible strategies for resolving conflict between science and religion, each based upon a viewpoint of the nature of science discussed earlier. None of the strategies is found to be free from difficulty. Since each philosophy of science emphasizes characteristics with overlapping domains of applicability and validity, the author advocates an informed strategy embracing an eclectic approach.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF THE GEOLOGIC COLUMN: PART II

    In Part I (ORIGINS 8:59-76) of this series on historical interpretations of the geologic column, the author discussed the early developmental stages in the science of geology. After the basic concepts of geological principles were formed, a period of reinterpretation of the earth's crust followed. Part II discusses these times.
    Notable geologists, including William Buckland, Adam Sedgwick, Roderick Impey Murchison, and Charles Lyell, began to view the earth's formation in terms of very long ages. Though none would accept an atheistic origin for the earth, all felt compelled to believe that Scripture was an inadequate guide to aid their interpretation of the features in the geologic column. God was still considered to be the founder and originator of life. The uniformitarian principle postulated by Hutton years earlier became nearly universally accepted, and the Noachian flood was not considered to be a suitable explanation for the geologic column.
    In order to answer the problem of increasing complexity within the geologic column, a multiple-creation hypothesis was developed by a number of geologists. God was still actively involved, but the six-day creation week was substituted with a form of progressive creation. The concept of Darwinian evolution which involved gradual change from one species to another was not widespread, and the diversity seen in the geologic column was attributed to multiple-creation events.
    Realizing that these concepts damaged a literal interpretation of Scripture, conservative Christian scientists reacted understandably in vigorous defense of more traditional views. A time of heated debates and discussions ensued. These exchanges resulted in a polarization of views concerning earth history, a legacy that our current generation continues to inherit.


1982

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