A Review of Science and Grace: God's Reign in the Natural Sciences, by Tim Morris and Don Petcher -- By: Jonathan F. Henry

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 10:30 (Sep 2006)
Article: A Review of Science and Grace: God's Reign in the Natural Sciences, by Tim Morris and Don Petcher
Author: Jonathan F. Henry


A Review of Science and Grace:
God's Reign in the Natural Sciences,
by Tim Morris and Don Petcher

(Crossway, 2006, $14.99, ISBN 1–58134-549–6)

Jonathan Henry

Authors Tim Morris and Don Petcher, a biologist and a physicist respectively, are professors at Covenant College. At the outset of Science and Grace, they state their commitment to ”[refer] directly to Scripture” rather than making their ”confessional heritage” their ”primary reference” (p. xii). They generally fulfill this commitment, though at times they find themselves talking in exclusively Reformed terms. Science and Grace has three broad goals: (1) to show how modern science arose in a Christian framework and has been shifting recently toward a non-Christian post-modern stance; (2) to show how Christ governs the natural realm; and (3) to explain some of the ways in which Christian faith ought to make a biblically-based science distinct from the secular version. Threads addressing each goal are interwoven throughout the book.

Science and Grace is a timely book. The common perception is that Christianity has hindered science rather than facilitating it, so the first goal is a needed corrective. Likewise, a popular idea is that natural law somehow governs the creation, rendering God irrelevant to science, so the case for Christ's governance of creation is a timely topic. Finally, Christians often rationalize ways of blending into the secular landscape, and we need reminders of the need to show our faith openly in all we do, including the practice of science.

Christian Origins and the Post-Modern Shift in Science

Morris and Petcher begin by emphasizing that, ”Science has never known a non-Modern backdrop for its operation” (p. 2). This is an amazing statement considering that all non-Western cultures, ancient and contemporary, are thereby excluded from having practiced science. Nevertheless, more than a few historians and philosophers of science concur (e.g., Dawson, 1950, p. 17; Jaki, 1985, p. 42; Quigley, 1961, p. 334). There is a balanced discussion of the Renaissance, ”in which the focus was increasingly on man, in contrast to the heavenly themes of the past ...” (p. 19). This was a productive trend as long as it led to a fruitful study of God's physical creation, but a dangerous trend once Enlightenment advocates sought to co-opt science in a war against Christianity.

Descartes (1596–1650), the ”father of the Enlightenment” (pp. 20–21), was a Euclidean in his view of nature as a manifestation of mathematics (Descartes, 1636, p. 7). Although in hindsight we see in Descartes the seeds of

what became the mechanistic ...

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