“But” was a word I learn early in my childhood. When I began receiving formal education through the St. Vrain Valley Public Schools, I came to discover that “but” was a strong contrast to what was previously said. In fact, “but” suggests that the previous statement no longer has any value and could be forgotten. “But” therefore became a powerful word in my formidable mind.
“How can I use such a word…..?,” I pondered.
Now, as I continued in education, I ended up at a Bible college and eventually a seminary where I learned both the Greek and Hebrew words for “but” and found they mean the same thing.
This proved very helpful when I got to passages like Ephesians 2:1-10, where the Apostle Paul contrasts the former way of life (the life without Christ, without salvation) against the new life found in God’s mercy and grace.
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
This is just one example in Scripture of the power of the “but.” This example causes me to humbly worship and serve God, and makes me grateful for salvific “but’s.”
HOWEVER: there are bad “but’s.” One example is when my mom instructed me to share my toys with my older sibling who (unbeknownst to my mother) was being a brat. My response to my mom, “BUT MOOOOOOM!!!!”
This is a bad “but,” because is it rebellion against the clear command of my parent. Thankfully, my mom used this as an occasion to use the rod of discipline on my rear so that I would not forget that I had a bad use of “but.”
Another bad “but” is one which many people today use and (unfortunately) many professing Christians also use; the science “but.” It goes something like this:
“I know the Bible says (insert favorite sciencey Bible verses), BUT science has proved different.”
I have no doubt that you have heard this one. In fact, this lone “but” has caused many people to doubt their Bibles validity and potentially has led many away from Biblical Christianity. More than that, the reaction against such a “but” statement has given way to two sciencey ministries (here and here) that work around the clock to show the world that the Bible is not a war with science, but that modern science is working hard to be atheistic. To both of these ministries, I say “Bravo! Continue on!,” because they are exactly right on the issue of science and the Bible.
The Bible is not at war against science.
BUT… (sciencey people will say) …science has proved parts of the Bible wrong!
Well, here is the reason for the post today and tomorrow — yay! a two-parter. 🙂
As a youth pastor, I am regularly confronted with this “but” by students who sit under science teachers who largely just teach what they have been taught and work hard at staying out of trouble with the administration by teaching the text they were given. I have a compassionate heart for these students because I too am a product of the American public school system and I remember having to sit through the same claims about evolution, the Big Bang, macro-evolution, Galapagos finch beaks, and fossil records as if they were gospel-truth.
So what do I tell these students? How do I coach them to respond? How should you respond next time someone makes the “but” claim? Two responses today, and three tomorrow.
1) I want to see that “proof!”
Too often people hear a claim and for whatever reason (or maybe there is something else going on, Rom 1:18) believe it. They don’t test the claim. They don’t look for actual proof. They don’t try to wrestle with its implications. They hear it, accept it, and preach it. Such is the case with many science claims. So I ask for proof that is outside of their claim. I ask where they heard this claim and how that person proves the claim. When it relates to Darwinism theory in any form, there is no proof. If they bring me a text book, then I ask if there is any evidence in the natural world to prove the textbook. Again, when it relates to Darwinism theory in any form, the fact is there is none.
Now, if it about observable science (micro-biology, archeology, micro-evolution, astronomy, physical science, etc.), then I affirm it as God’s beautiful, marvelous, creative creation (Ps 19:1-6). Of these kinds of sciences, I heartily affirm because God already speaks to these as His creation. But Big Bang’s, macro-evolution, billions of years, and frogs becoming humans, I reject because there is no proof of such events because to believe in such claims is (as Albert Einstein put it) a great mistake.
2) Since God is the Creator, don’t you think He took into account science and its laws when He created it? And don’t you think the Holy Spirit, when He wrote the Bible, also took into account science?
This one does not need a lot of explanation. God is Creator (Gen 1:1-31). All Christians affirm that. So since that is the case, God is the Creator of science and all of its human discovered laws. He not only took into account the laws of science, but He created them and made them for us to discover.
Now, up to that, both Creationists and Christian Theistic Evolutionists would agree. Here is where we part. The Holy Spirit, the writer of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21), made science claims throughout Scripture. No, the Bible is not a science textbook, but when it speaks of sciencey things (e.g., Job 28:25), it speaks the truth (more on that in a tomorrow). Therefore, if humans discover something that looks contrary to the Bible, guess who wins?
DING! DING! DING! The Holy Spirit. Why? Because He is God!!! To say you discovered something that is contrary to His own word says that your created, finite human mind is of higher understanding than God. Let me remind you of 1 Corinthians 2:
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
The point: God’s wisdom and God’s words are the trump card over science. If science discovers something that appears to be contrary to the God’s Word, then science is wrong! End of discussion. Go back and look at that discovery again and seek the truth that lines up with God’s Word and God Himself.
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That should give you enough to chew on until tomorrow when I will reveal 3 more responses to “the Bible, but science” question.