“O LORD, you have looked into my eyes; kindly smiling, you’ve called out my name. On the sand I have abandoned my small boat; now with you, I will seek other seas.” —Cesario Gabarain, 1979
In 2018 many of us will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the adoption of the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort by the 1618 Synod of Dort as doctrinal standards for the Reformed faith.
Clearly the Heidelberg Catechism has served us well. The other two confessions, however, remain in relative obscurity.
With that as background, let me get to my bottom line. Article 2 of the Belgic Confession states how we know God:
First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God. . . . Second, he makes himself known to us more openly by his holy and divine Word. . . .
Most of us would agree that God’s revelation of himself through his creation must agree with scriptural revelation. After all, all truth is God’s truth. God does not contradict himself. Yet many believers continue to insist that Scripture must ultimately be our science guide, following the error of the Catholic church in excommunicating Galileo.
Why is this so?
I suggest it is partly due to misinterpretation of evolution as being godless. For years the National Academy of Sciences and others defined evolution as an “unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process.” However, after being challenged by Christian groups, including the American Scientific Affiliation, in 1998 the National Academy of Science changed their definition of evolution as follows: “The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution; an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process. . . .” By leaving out the words unsupervised and impersonal, adjectives that imply randomness, evolution by definition clearly leaves room for Intelligent Design, a Creator. In other words, it leaves room for God.
By insisting that Scripture have the final word with respect to science, we miss out on the obvious. Shouldn’t Christians be open to what modern science teaches about origins, the age of the earth, Adam and Eve? What could be more appropriate for Christian Reformed lay members, theologians, and scientists than to put their biases aside and be open to learning truths from God’s other great book, his universe?
We won’t be alone; some 2 million U.S. scientists identify as evangelical. Can we, with Christ, sail into this sea?