Charles Hodge on Faith and Science

In his book entitled What Is Darwinism, Charles Hodge makes a number of interesting statements for those of us approaching the faith vs. science subject over 130 years later. This one, in particular, sounded very relevant.

No sound minded man disputes any scientific fact. Religious men believe with Agassiz that facts are sacred. They are revelations from God. Christians sacrifice to them when duly authenticated their most cherished convictions. That the earth moves no religious man doubts. When Galileo made that great discovery the Church was right in not yielding at once to the evidence of an experiment which it did not understand. But when the fact was clearly established no man sets up his interpretation of the Bible in opposition to it. Religious men admit all the facts connected with our solar system all the facts of geology and of comparative anatomy and of biology. (131-2)

Of course, Hodge soon goes on to repudiate the factual nature of evolution by means of natural selection, what is recognized today as scientific fact, but this is beside the point. Hodge is arguing that, while the Church may be justified in chewing on the evidence to allow it time to settle and understand its implications, eventually the Church is accountable for this evidence as it belongs to the category in which we also place Scripture, divine revelation.

In light of the recent events surrounding a video of Bruce Waltke over at Science & the Sacred blog discussing why Christians must come to accept evolution (see here and here, and read the reflections of Daniel, Doug [and John H in the comments], and Art), Hodge’s comments strike me as very relevant. Waltke was essentially rearticulating Hodge’s position in his comments in the video, but they have become even less popular today as one might surmise from the removal of Waltke’s video as well as his departure with the institution that initially asked for the video to be removed.

But what shocked me more than anything else is how Waltke’s own position is basically self defeating. I am referring specifically to Waltke’s views on the historical Adam (see here). That Waltke can be so condescending of Christians who reject the scientific factuality of evolution but so willing to embrace a scientifically untenable position is perplexing at best. Ultimately, these two men are defeated by their own positions. Hodge is perhaps less guilty than Waltke, for even Young Earth Creationists have to admit today what neither Darwin nor Hodge had in their day (definitive scientific knowledge that accounts for the transition from embryo to fully developed being, i.e. DNA). You cannot accept the finds of science piecemeal. Either you believe the whole discipline is misguided, or it isn’t. The implications are staggering either way.


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