Bible and Science
Walter van der Kamp
Objectifying, externalizing the Universe, imagining himself to be like God when he does it, is one of man's conceited acts in his revolt against Heaven instigated by the serpent in the garden of Eden, a revolt since then maintained through all generations. And it is, as I see it, the one of which Christians are least aware. Before the coming of Copernicus its subtle but dangerous character remained hidden. People who believe and know the Earth to be positioned completely at rest by Him, who alone is Absolute, did not go far wrong in their cosmological castle-building; all observed motions were self-evidently absolute. Charity compels me to assume that they, fully or no more than dimly aware of the portentous issue, only wanted to investigate and demonstrate the detailed workings of God's mighty geocentric Universe.
The Copernican revolution changed all that. Henceforth fallen man purported themselves to be the arbiters in matters celestial forever beyond their grasp. Not only that: by succeeding in their efforts to put this preposterous presumption across, they gave the secularists among them an opening. The new astronomy by implication depicted the Biblical worldview as founded on infantile myth and hence in fine seduced many to discard Scripture's divine authority altogether. Why build your life on an antiquated message of law, grace, and salvation everywhere contradicted by scientific facts?
With very few exceptions Christians, otherwise holding on to the trustworthiness of God's Word, went along with Kepler and Newton, not realizing that in doing this they exchanged their former, at bottom theocentric, standpoint for a prideful, egocentric view on all that is.. . . Beware if you proclaim that human judgment to be a fact, you are a Protagoras redivivus, a man come of age, akin to the personage of II Thessalonians. From a chimerical viewpoint somewhere in the void you talk and twitter about great matters and things too high for you. Psalm 131 urges you not to do this. For even if seen from Above you would be right, since you are not yet in this Above it behooves you to confess that in the last resort you can only guess and never know. However, if you clear away the cobwebs of an exegesis subservient to secular science that obstruct a level-headed view what then do you see when reading God's Word?
By asking this I do not suggest that you begin scrutinizing the Scriptures for didactic prooftexts. Rejecting such a procedure, I do in that sense agree with the old saw that the Bible is not a scientific textbook. For then its Author, to keep its natural philosophy understandable and credible would have been compelled to update the Good Book in the manner the Russians do it to official communist history, time after time replacing the ruling physical theories of the fathers at the time of the Word's publication by the newer notions of their children throughout all generations. God speaks in Holy Writ to men of all ages in the pre-analytical way of direct common-sense experience, granting and leaving to usa closer examination of the constituents and patterns He has used in putting together the world we live in.
Only there where His Revelation concerns scientific untouchables and pre-Adamite unknowables we face a pseudo-dilemma. Does the Almighty then adapt the information either, if not to the intellectual level of the world's first readers, then anyway to mankind's apprehensive faculty in general, or do the accounts convey the plain truth? For to insist that the strict factual tale of, e.g., the first chapters of Genesis is a "highly symbolical" rendering of the actual events I consider to be a desperate subterfuge, allowing its propounders to run with the sacred hare and to hunt with the secular hounds. The references to the story of creation elsewhere in Holy Writ, as, e.g., in Exodus 20:11 are too pertinent for such a cavalier treatment of the text.
Be this as it may, realize the implications of coming down on the side of the either or on the side of the other, when answering the above question. If you choose the first alternative you, being a member of mankind, have two options. You may conclude that hence you flounder in the dark when saying more than the inspired report says, because how it truly all happened we apparently are unable to understand. On the other hand you may again elevate yourself above your fellow-creatures in the manner Copernicus has seduced us to adopt in astronomy. That is to say, sitting next to God in His temple you assume yourself to be in a position to tell us what the Lord really meant to say, but was unable to get across in understandable terms. This ploy of elucidating the Word's supposed "anthropomorphisms" has been the favorite tool of theologians, liberal and conservative, from Origen's day to the present).
...the unavailing search for an absolute reference frame in the world of matter mirrors the situation in the world of mind and spirit. Transient man is unable to construct absolutes anywhere. Neither in the material, nor in the immaterial modes of being will he find indomitable strongholds of conviction from which not-to-be-doubted deductions can be drawn. We cannot know, we can only believe. The lower cannot overreach the higher, the temporal not affirm the eternal. Hume was right: to be a philosophical sceptic is the first and most essential step towards being a sound, believing Christian. And two thousand years earlier Meno accurately pinpointed man's quandary: how can we recognize the true account among the many propositions possible, if we are not told which one it is by Somebody who knows? He who longs for absolutes must come to God, and believe that He is and that His Word is the Truth.
The ruling relativism in astronomy is a frightful phenomenon that needed more than three centuries to reach maturity. Copernicus made its coming possible when he conceived the created cosmos as an object about which he as a subject independent from it could not only judge on equal footing with its Maker, but even was able to correct a mistake this Maker had failed to put aright. The result was that the theocentric Universe gave way step by step to a homocentric one somewhere in the eternal silence of the infinite spaces that terrified Pascal. Western man, relentlessly driven to accept the consequences of his choice now finally has lost even the last hold on those spaces. Trapped in the inescapable nothing-but-matter-and-force relativity of his own making he today sees the essentially law-abiding society of yore crumbling into dust or only maintained by naked force ...
St. Paul foretold it: the mystery of iniquity in his days already at work, restrained in a theoretically God-centered world, is now coming to the fore in the man-centered world scientifically sent on its way by Galileo and his admirers, yet still a world that, of course, cannot demonstrate its ruling a-centric tenets to have any solid visible and logical support. Professing to be rational and wise "modern man" believes in relativity and quantum physics, things a thousand times more irrational and illogical than the Bible's mightiest miracle.
Events have causes. The modern view, secretly already for centuries undermining the foundations of the Age of Faith with its cathedrals and cloisters, found in Galileo its victorious propagandist. The man of sin, the self-professed absolute of II Thessalonians, may not yet have been revealed; his prototypes are certainly around us. I do not want to be found on their side in theology, in astronomy, or anywhere ! Do you?
The above article is reprinted, in part, from the November 1982 Bulletin of the Tychonian Society of which Mr. van der Kamp is editor. While we do not necessarily endorse, or reject, the Tychonian Society's belief in a geocentric universe, we are convinced of the Society's strong creationist stand, and we believe that the thoughts outlined in the foregoing paper should be seriously pondered by both Bible-believing Christians and also by Bible-rejecting "secular relativists" (and those "in between"). It should be noted that modern Einsteinian theory of relativity posits that any point in the universe may be considered the "center" (that is, point of "rest" relative to which all else moves).
In speaking of man's man-centered worldview Mr. van der Kamp touches on something antedating Copernicus, namely, the traditional "subject-object" stance of secular philosophy expressed most influentially in classical Greek philosophy. If starting from an "above-and-beyond nature" position originating in the express revelation by the Creator ex nihilo of the Bible that is, explicitly non-secular then, and then alone man, made in the Biblical Personal God's image and likeness and acknowledging his creaturehood and obedience, may exercise a "subject-object" task of evaluation of the remainder of the created universe around him. For then, and then only, man by virtue of receiving knowledge from this God may truly be apart from and above nature; this God (and none other) alone is ontologically different from the universe (and also from man but by grace He reveals to man what He only is in a position to know absolutely and independent from the universe).
On the other hand, if man starts with "nature" or the universe itself, and especially if he holds to monistic evolutionism excluding the extra and supernatural Creator, then man is of necessity himself part of "nature" or the universe. In that case he cannot logically or empirically maintain a "subject - object" stance when trying to evaluate himself or the rest of the world. John Dewey, by the way, recognized this (as shown in the CSSHQ articles on his instrumentalist philosophy, Vol. 111, Nos. 2, 3 and 4). Dewey derisively called the "subject-object" analytical stance a "spectator theory of knowledge" and attempted to replace it with his own evolutionist, monist approach of continual change in which "doing" and "knowing" are the same, and in which epistemological certainty is impossible (as are absolute distinctions between truth and error, good and evil).
Of course Dewey himself was also guilty of the "subject-object" approach when presupposing a priori that monistic evolutionism is true. To reason at all, man must reason as though he himself stood apart from nature; his very mode of reasoning shows his super-natural origin. He cannot escape choosing, as his very first, initial, fundamental presupposition, between the super-natural God and Creator ex nihilo of the Bible, or else some form of monistic evolutionism. This fact in itself points to the revealed truth of Genesis 1:26 and of Romans 1:18-20 which man suppresses at his own peril. Besides now becoming increasingly untenable on empirical grounds (further vindication of Genesis and Romans 1:18-20), monistic evolutionism also undercuts the validity of human thought itself. One is reminded of Darwin's despairing remark about the doubtful reliability of a monkey's brain or thought!