Target readership ? Does it include you or someone you know?
In writing this book I have attempted to make it suitable to three types of people. This is probably impossible, but at least it is my goal.
First, it is for Christians with a background in science, who need answers about how science and Christian faith fit together. They often hear that there are conflicts, and need to know what to think about these problems and how to answer others’ questions. This includes questions from their own children, who are taught things like evolution in school. What should a Christian say about dinosaurs, or the Big Bang? If it seems that there are no answers, then they cannot answer others’ questions, and their own faith may begin to weaken and even collapse. I hope this book will stabilize their faith, and enable them to answer others’ questions. As recounted in the acknowledgments, I have been through these stages myself.
Second, it is for Christians without a background in science, who are in positions of spiritual leadership and responsibility. This includes Christian parents whose children ask questions, and church leaders, both pastoral and laity, whose young people (and older ones too) ask questions about science. Most of them feel that the subject is simply beyond them, impossible for them to grasp or be able to explain to others. So when someone asks them these questions, they feel they can only try to refer the person to someone else who is an “expert” and a Christian, or to a book. But there are very few such experts, and they cannot possibly talk to everyone, and many students will not search through books; as a result many questions are left unanswered. In many instances the asker regards this as at least a difficulty in his/her maintenance of faith, or even as a reason to reject it. This is unfortunate. I hope that “non-expert” Christians find this book understandable, though they will have to work harder in reading it than those with a science background. But if they do work harder, they will benefit more! I hope they will then be able to use the ideas in it to help answer their own and others’ questions, and thus to strengthen many people’s faith in God and the Bible.
Third, it is for non-Christians without a background in the Bible, with or without a background in science. I realize that very few of them will find this book, let alone buy it, but I hope it is suitable for Christians to give to their friends who seem especially interested in this subject. Or perhaps they may come across it in a bookstore or friend’s home, and be curious about the subject. Thus it can be one step in the process of their coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
I must also point out that this book is not written for scholars seeking primary documentation. My focus is on basic issues, logic, common knowledge and common sense which is accessible to everyone in everyday life. I study this subject as an interested, concerned, and hopefully knowledgeable amateur. Neither philosophy nor theology is my area of formal expertise or scholarship. I do not claim personal expertise or scholarship in any area; I have meddled in many areas and mastered none, though my formal education has concentrated on physics and I feel especially competent to comment on astronomy and atmospheric science. See my background, given earlier. I write for others like myself. I hope to help them resolve questions that concern them, to their own satisfaction, with resources at their disposal, mostly inside their own skull. Life’s most basic questions cannot be dependent on scholarly footnotes. I discuss matters in which the level of detail is not the crucial point, and the information that is readily available is sufficient.
With such a resolution in hand, they can then pass it on to others with whom they engage in ordinary casual (or not so casual!) discussion, without dependence on invocation of experts and highly technical information. Such resources are neither available nor relevant when discussing your faith across the backyard fence or across a lunch box at work.
I do not remember where most of my ideas and information
came from, and do not have an extensive data file or library to cover up
for my poor memory. I do not have the time nor resources to track
down most of the details. As a result, I myself am not sure whether
some ideas were my own or someone else’s. I do not claim that very
much is original, and am reluctant to claim that any particular point is
There are no formal footnotes, and very few citations of sources.
For those who wish to pursue further information, there are several classified bibliographies, which contain the sources with which I am presently familiar, and probably include the sources of most of the contents of this book, but it is not intended to prove I have read everything relevant to the subject. In recent years the Internet has become a ready and vast source of information, and I give several good web-sites that can lead to many more. There is not an index either, but there are extensive cross-references throughout the book, and the table of contents is fairly detailed. This should aid in finding a particular subject.
Many details are based simply on my memory, which is occasionally incorrect despite my efforts to double-check my information. Facts cannot be copyrighted. As far as I know, except in a few instances as stated in the text, I have not quoted anything so closely as to infringe on any copyright. I will be grateful to any who contact me with corrections of misinformation on any matter, or who can give me the sources which I have forgotten and thus omitted from the bibliography. And I will especially appreciate being told if there are any possible inadvertent legal infringements anywhere, so that they can be rectified if there is ever another edition!
What do you want, and where is it? ? Summary of the logical structure of the book
First, a general comment. If you find rough sledding in a particular place, pick up your sled and run on ahead. This is particularly true of chapters 1 to 4. They are background for chapters 5 and 6, which are the central part of the book.
The organization of the book is quite logical. Ch. 1, 2 discuss some basic concepts of the history and philosophy of science. Ch. 3, 4 discuss some basic concepts of faith in general, and Christian faith in particular, including some logical objections to that faith. Finally, with this background to science and faith, ch. 5 discusses the relationship between the two. This begins with resolving some apparent conflicts that many people see between them.
This is approximately one-third of the book, and
could be described as defensive, for the purpose of solving problems.
This must be done first, or else nothing else that we say will be accepted.
For instance, if you hear someone try to prove that the earth is flat,
you will not believe it (I hope!). Even if they sound very knowledgeable,
and give many “proofs” that you cannot answer, you still feel that everyone
else says the earth is round, and has many reasons for it. That many
people and that many reasons could not possibly all be wrong. For
most people, it is the same when we say that there is one true God who
created heaven and earth and us, and the Bible is His one true revelation.
We must show them how so many people, and so many reasons for rejecting
God and the Bible, could be mistaken and misled from the truth.
Ch. 6, a long one, is constructive, giving the basis of faith in the Bible as God’s Word, and therefore as evidence that He does in fact exist. Here we finally get to the subject of creation, evolution, and the Big Bang.
Most Christians think that the subject of “science and the Bible” is “creation and evolution,” but creation and evolution is not the only or even the basic question. Several other really basic issues must be taken care of first, and when that is done the problem of creation is already mostly solved. If those other issues are not taken care of first, then no matter what we say about creation, we will be placed in the same category with those who try to prove the earth is flat. That is why ch. 6 is preceded by ch. 5 on conflicts. The conclusion in ch. 6 is that the universe with its time, space, and natural laws, must have had a beginning, which can be identified with the Big Bang theory of astrophysics; living things must be a product of superhuman intelligent design, not random evolution as commonly taught in biology classes; and the Bible must be a revelation from a supernatural power and intelligence. Finally, the experience of believers confirms the reality of that power, and of our relationship with Him as our heavenly Father.
Ch. 6 is followed by ch. 7, also long, on a subject currently of concern to many people, especially in the evangelical community in the US: “creationism,” or more precisely recent creation or young-earth creationism. What do the Bible and science respectively say about the date of creation, or the age of the earth and the universe? Is this a major conflict between the Bible and science? My answer is, of course, no. I do not believe the Bible really teaches something so contrary to all available evidence. My conclusion is that recent creation is a serious and unnecessary misinterpretation of both the Bible and the physical universe.
After all this fairly formal study of facts and logic,
ch. 8 ends the book with a more informal presentation of my personal feelings
about being both a Christian and a scientist.