Introduction Faith and Science
Interpreting God's Word and God's World
by George O. Wood
During my junior year at Evangel College (now university), I began to experience a crisis of faith. I was troubled by the discrepancy between many of my fellow Pentecostals’ spirituality and their character. They claimed to have deep spiritual experiences, but they weren’t growing in Christlikeness or producing the fruit of the Spirit, which is love. (I realize, looking back, that like a lot of young people I was very judgmental and not cutting others the slack I now hope they give me.) I began to wonder whether Christianity was based solely on subjective experientialism.
A chapel speaker helped me see that Christianity was based on fact, not feeling. In a riveting message, he demonstrated the truth of the Resurrection by outlining the historical evidence for it and replying to skeptical objections against it. In many ways, this speaker won my mind for Christ and set the course of my Christian life and pastoral ministry. Subjective experiences are a weak foundation for Christian faith, but objective truth is solid ground.
Today, many young people are experiencing similar crises of faith. We live in a culture that is dominated by science. On the positive side of the equation, the so-called STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are making new discoveries that improve human life. We all benefit from new medical technologies, computers with faster processing speeds and greater memory, advanced communication gadgets, and so on. Christian young people want to participate in these scientific discoveries.
On the negative side of the equation, science sometimes seems to crowd out faith, calling into question biblical teaching on creation, for example. In his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman quotes a young man named Mike who says, “To be honest, I think that learning about science was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew from church that I couldn’t believe in both science and God, so that was it. I didn’t believe in God anymore.”1 My heart went out to this young man. If only he could have had an experience like mine with someone demonstrating to him that biblical faith and scientific facts do not contradict one another. Was there no one in this young man’s life to win his mind for Christ?
On June 27,28, 2011, the National Leadership and Resource Center of the Assemblies of God sponsored its inaugural Faith and Science Conference at my alma mater, Evangel University, here in Springfield, Missouri. Participants included theologians and scientists, pastors and laity, teachers and students. We have published the papers presented at this conference in Proceedings of the Inaugural Faith & Science Conference.2 They represent a variety of perspectives on the faith-science relationship generally, as well as on origins issues specifically.
After the conference, which was well-received by participants, Dr. Jim Bradford and I asked the editors of Enrichment to prepare an issue of the journal on the relationship of faith and science. The issue you hold in your hands is the result. The theme articles that follow touch on four broad issues: (1) The article by Amos Yong and the interview with Steve Krstulovich, Cecil Miller, and Christina Powell address in broad strokes the relationship between faith and science. (2) The articles by Kurt Wise, Hugh Ross, and Davis Young represent the spectrum of evangelical positions on earth’s age. (3) In their articles, Mike Tenneson, Christina Powell, Jim Bradford, and John Mark Reynolds touch on practical issues that arise when you minister in a scientific age. (4) The concluding articles by Gregory Gannsle, Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, and Timothy McGrew present a reasoned defense of faith against New Atheist misuses of science.
I recognize that this issue of Enrichment is tough sledding, intellectually speaking. The journal normally addresses best practices in ministry, but this issue goes deep into matters of history, biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, scientific evidence, and apologetics. Also, this issue might be frustrating to some because it does not side with one position on the earth’s-age debate. For these reasons, some of you might be tempted not to read the theme articles. I encourage you to resist this temptation.
Why? Because your congregation and the world you are trying to reach are filled with Mikes and with younger versions of me. They have questions about faith in the light of scientific advances. If you want to win them for the gospel, you must also win their minds for Christ. We offer this issue of Enrichment as an aid toward accomplishing that mission.
1. David Kinnaman, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church … And Rethinking Faith (Grand Rapids: BakerBooks, 2011), 131.
2. David R. Bundrick and Steve Badger, eds., Proceedings of the Inaugural Faith & Science Conference (Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 2011). For more information on ordering materials from this conference, visit: http://faithandscience.ag.org/.