Presupposition: a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action [dictionary.com].
Theory: a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained [dictionary.com].
Scientific theory: a matter of the highest of probability based on the data available. There are no absolutes in it. Furthermore, science is a train that is constantly moving. Yesterday’s generalization is today’s discarded hypothesis [Paul Little, 103].
Herein lies the problem, the moving presupposition, the theory that is no longer relevant.
Science is only one way to find the truth and science focuses on physical things. That’s ok but the explanatory power is limited—to physical things. What about what Paul Little refers to as nonmaterial realities?
What about God? What about creation?
In the limited space we have in this post, it would be folly to try to tackle in any substantial way topics as vast as the questions above but we can discuss Christian presuppositions. If scientists have them, can’t we have them also? Of course we can.
Evolutionary scientists have what Little calls “three views of evolution” or three presuppositions or theories. One is evolutionism which holds that the universe has been evolving forever on the basis of natural processes, mutation and natural selection. Secondly, there is microevolution which is a change or development within a species [chromosome changes, gene mutations or hybridization]. Thirdly is macroevolution where genetic information is transferred to a higher, more complex classification. Depending on your scientific view of evolution, these three theories explain your view of the world.
Christians assume the earth must have been created many thousands of years before the birth of Christ. And some Christians may struggle with what that date would be but there are two presuppositions that override any theories put forth by scientists. 1. God supernaturally and deliberately created the heavens and the earth and deliberately created the first man and first woman. 2.Scientists can quit looking for the “missing link” between man and lower life forms. Man did not evolve from some animal ancestor.
What about the thousands of years controversy? The Bible says God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. How could that be?
Well it all depends on how a day is defined. I always thought that the writers of the Bible were wise in how they took God’s thoughts and put them on the page. In this case, maybe Moses wrote Genesis so man in his time could conceptualize the passage of time. Let’s not forget that the Hebrew people possibly did not have the scientific capability to think back in thousands of years and Little proposes the Hebrew word “day” could mean a passage of time, rather than a 24 hour day. When one turns to other parts of the Bible, God’s time does not seem to be as man’s time. Psalms 90: 4 “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” 2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
Should we as Christians be obsessed with pinpointing the origin of man down to the year? I don’t think so. Let the scientists debate this based on scientific evidence. Just recognize that scientific evidence can be superseded by more recently discovered scientific evidence, presuppositions can be presupposed by more current presuppositions and theories can be re-conceptualized as new systems are discovered that have explanatory power.
We see the limitations of science in the constantly moving train. To rely on scientific theory as a way to explain God or the origin of man is a problem because it is so tentative. This is why it is so dangerous to try to explain the Bible using scientific theory.
Little explains pretty clearly in these words: “If the Bible becomes wedded to today’s scientific theories, what will happen to it when science, ten years from now has shifted?”