Statement on Creation and Natural Science
We believe and teach that God created and sustains the Cosmos. God provided “special revelation” (Scriptures) and “general revelation” (nature) for humanity. The Scriptures testify that God’s creation is good (Genesis 1:31). We help students connect information that we learn about God’s creation through the disciplines of natural and physical science to information that we learn from Scripture through theology, Bible study and Christian tradition.
Modern cosmology asserts that the universe is astronomically large and thus very old (about 13.8 billion years), and our solar system is nearly five billion years into its lifetime. The Psalmist worshipfully reflects: When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalms 8:3-4, NRSV).
The on-going care of Jesus for the creation is proclaimed in the New Testament: He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17, NRSV). Consequently, by faith, we believe God originated the cosmos, but we remain undogmatic on the specifics of God’s methodology.
Christians who accept the authority of Scripture have a variety of views on the methodology of creation that include:
a) a theistic evolutionary understanding that, in the origination of nature, God directed natural processes to accomplish Creation;
b) a progressive Creation event that encompassed a multi-billion year time span;
c) an intelligent design approach that looks for “fingerprints” of the Creator in nature;
d) six-day 24-hour Creation occurring 6000 years ago.
Students who come to EMU bring a variety of viewpoints and questions. “Did nature originate itself?” “If God created, how did that happen?” “When did the universe begin?” “How old is the earth?” “What is the relationship between Christian faith and natural science?” “What is my place within Gods Creation?” “What is my responsibility as a steward of God’s Creation?” Overall, there is a wide variety of positions regarding potential conflicts and paths to reconciliation between faith and science among our students. In response, as a Christian university, we commit ourselves to accomplish five important tasks:
1. We teach that God created and sustains the Cosmos, even while we speculate with interest on the method God uses to create.
2. We acquaint students with the details of natural science, the structures and processes within Creation itself.
3. We strive to inspire in our students a continuous awe of God’s Creation, from the wonder of earth’s biodiversity to its intricate mechanisms at the molecular level.
4. We show how Christians in the past and today have variously incorporated their Christian faith and their scientific knowledge and understanding. We do not insist that our students adopt any specific point of view about this blending.
5. And finally, Scriptures also clearly teach that humans are to be caretakers of God’s Creation. We believe that wanton pollution, destruction and wasting of our natural resources are sinful practices. Consequently, being responsible stewards of the natural resources of our planet, living with simplicity, and showing compassion toward other elements of our natural world reflect our desire to live faithful lives before our Creator.
In natural science courses, we teach concepts of evolutionary biology, including natural selection and other mechanisms of genetic change. We try to help our students see that God continually creates and sustains the Cosmos. Rather than dwelling on disagreements about how God has worked in the past, we feel that it is more important to teach students to look for ways that God is working today in the world around us.
In our introductory science courses, we discuss various ways to blend Christian faith and science. In addition to traditional college science texts, students use a variety of additional sources, including material from Biology Through the Eyes of Faith by Richard T. Wright, published by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, and The Language of Science and Faith by Karl W. Giberson and Francis S. Collins, published by Intervarsity Press and the BioLogos Foundation. Both of these volumes discuss many ways that Christians connect their faith and their work as scientists. As professors, we encourage our students to take seriously both the Word of God and the things that we can learn about Creation through the scientific process. We raise and discuss the questions about what one does when these two areas seem to be in conflict. We also examine students’ own current range of beliefs as well as their past experiences and influences. This “through the eyes of faith” approach helps us understand how other Christians have blended their understandings of faith and science into a coherent whole and provides strategies for reconciling conflicts as they continue in their faith journey and scientific career.
Similarly for our senior-level students, we provide a capstone course, “Faith, Science and Ethics,” which revisits issues of faith and science and further develops bioethics and Creation care practices. In that course students are required to write a reflective paper that describes how their world view influences their scientific work.
In studying the handiwork of God and in being stewards of natural resources, we enlist ourselves in a high and holy vocation.
Revised and approved by EMU science faculty, August 22, 2016