What Science Tells Us About The Age Of The Creation -- By: Kurt P. Wise

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 11:1 (Spring 2007)
Article: What Science Tells Us About The Age Of The Creation
Author: Kurt P. Wise

What Science Tells Us About The Age Of The Creation

Kurt P. Wise

Kurt P. Wise is Professor of Science and Theology and Director of the Center for Theology and Science at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned a Ph.D. in paleontology from Harvard University and previously served as Assistant Professor of Science and Director of the Center for Origins Research at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. Dr. Wise is the author of Faith, Form, and Time: What the Bible Teaches and Science Confirms About Creation and the Age of the Universe(Broadman & Holman, 2002).

Methods Of Modern Science

Science is one of those human activities that is usually easy enough to identify, but very difficult to actually define.1 In its most basic form, however, science seeks to understand the physical world—i.e., the object of science’s attention is the physical creation. Towards that end, the standard of truth is the physical world itself. The veracity of any theory of understanding is measured by how well the theory corresponds to the data (the observed characteristics) of the physical creation.2

The actual methods employed by scientists to develop or evaluate the theories are diverse and have varied substantially over the centuries.3 Some methods were rejected by most scientists at their inception, others became popular before falling out of favor, and still others have persisted. In the study of the past, what is currently most popular is to study the modern world and apply to the past what has been learned about the modern world. It has proven to be very successful to assume that the regularities (i.e., natural laws) and the physical processes of the world do not change across all of space and across all of time. The assumption that the world operates in a consistent, unchanging manner is called “methodological uniformitarianism.”4 Another related methodological rule that, because of its success, is currently popular in studies of history, is to appeal to known processes rather than unfamiliar process. This methodology is called “actualism.” To believers, methodological uniformitarianism and actualism are appealing because they are each consistent with the physical creation being sustained by an unchanging God.

Applying these simple methods of science to the study of the creation, however, poses difficulties. Among these difficulties is the problem of created history.

The Problem Of Created History

When children are told the story of the creation they a...

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