Is Science Theologically Neutral?


The methods of science may well be theologically neutral. An experiment runs and is either destined to accept or reject the null hypothesis. As these experiments build up and explanations build up along side them, we start to build a body of knowledge. That body of knowledge is not theologically neutral. It has theological implications.

If we take the one of the most basic theological ideas–that nature is managed by a personal being–we can justify certain expectations. One of those expectations is that the running of nature would alter or waver to fulfil the preference or judgement of the managing God: we might expect to see the sun stand still in the sky to extend a deadline, or gravity be reversed to physically lift a person from an uncomfortable situation. And, in pre-scientific times that is exactly the narrative people built. The Old Testament is filled with such miracles. Science has discovered that nature does not show exception in its running.

Tsunamis are not held back by an invisible wall and crops do not grow regardless of the physical environment. This “pitiless indifferent” nature has important theological consequences. Religions have adapted and folded and felled cornerstone beliefs to accommodate science simply because science has such a profound theological input.

As your theology gets more specific–say, Literal Christianity–science is yet more profound with its theological input. The evidence does not support the Genesis account of the origins of the universe (Young or Old Earth). Many people claim that religion has adapted and those literal interpretations are a childish place for an atheist to direct its criticisms. But the fact that religions have adapted to yielded to science only goes to show the theological input that science has had.

24 thoughts on “Is Science Theologically Neutral?”

  1. Genesis and Science are both myths. Myths are stories we tell each other to explain why the world is the way it is. The Science myth more closely approximates the real world because it is open to change and self-correcting. Not one iota of Genesis, the first book of Torah, may be changed. So Science cannot be theologically neutral because it is a competing myth.

  2. Modern science is a product of the Christian worldview which holds that the universe is understandable and subject to rules, “the Laws of Nature (the Declaration of Independence).”

    It is the Christian bias toward a rationally understood universe, created by a rational, personal God, that allowed Western Civilization of all of history’s civilizations to progress past the slave and the beast of burden

      1. Alla,

        Try Dr. James Hannam of Oxford and Cambridge who is author of “The Genesis of Science.”

        “The Genesis of Science is written by a historian with degrees in physics and history from Oxford and London universities. The author also has a PhD in the history of science from the University of Cambridge.”

  3. A Christian bias toward a rationally understood universe? Seriously? Is this the same Christianity based on Paul’s exhortation to bring ” into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” ? The one where in the Book of Revelation the dome over the earth, aka heaven, is said to roll up like a scroll?

      1. And Jesus was a Messiah, not John Lennon. That’s not relevant. Newton’s theology and alchemy are forgotten to history. His science has nothing to do with religion. He didn’t discuss God in his scientific work until he failed.

      2. Alla,

        For your hallucination to make any sense at all your comparison between Jesus and John Lennon would have to involve at the very least, Jesus’ talents as a musician.

        And we know from such profound and monumental expression’s of stupidity as John Lennon’s, “Imagine,” that he was broadcasting from an alternate reality where the lameness quark rules over time, space and intelligence.

        As far as Lennon goes, I suggest for credibility’s sake that you just let it be.

        As it stands, gal, like all atheists tries to hallucinate the Bible into a science manual, assign the hallucination to Jesus or Christianity, and then demand that the Christian explain the hallucination.

      3. Very witty, i like it.
        I actually chose Lennon at random (and i find ‘Imagine’ tedious song).
        My point about Newton’different disciplines stands though.

      1. It appears that way. However, keep in mind that Science continues to change (recent discovery of “God” particle, theory the universe is eternal, etc), and Christianity is dependent on interpretation, allegedly guided by God, so perhaps they are differing ways of looking at the same thing.

      2. The God particle is a nickname created by a book editor who wouldn’t allow the name ‘The God Damn Particle’, and the eternal universe is contrary to Genesis. Perhaps you could state how you think these things could support the case…

      3. They don’t support either the case that Science is the only right answer or God is the only right answer. They support the case that Science’s knowledge and theories change over time.

    1. You appreciate the big difference is the binary approach of thinking science is simply “wrong” throughout history makes one blind to the progress, right?

      1. It would be really difficult to be “blind to the progress”. But yes, if Science is considered to be often “wrong”, then it encourages a lack of confidence in the reliability of Science.

      2. Okay, try it this way: using Asimov’s same example of a flat earth, consider the likelihood of the following two discoveries about the actual shape of the earth. It is either slightly flatter on the Antarctic than originally thought, or the shape is actual the lattice of a dodecahedron. If you can’t distinguish a difference, that is blindness to progress. If you do think one is not likely than the other, why?
        Both discoveries would render the previous model as “wrong”, but one is part of a narrative of clear progress and the other would be s complete overturning.

      3. The whole point is that “wrong” is often not applicable. “Not complete yet” is a better description of Science; continuing advances improves the accuracy of the view of “actuality”.

        I suspect that to most people, the actual shape of the Earth is inconsequential. Once you pass the line between “there is an edge beyond which is disaster” and “there is no edge; eventually you will end up where you started”, most people will stop paying attention, because it has no impact on them. If I look at it, I can see a difference between “slightly flatter on Antarctic” and “lattice of dodecahedron”, but I tend not to spend that amount of effort.

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