Monday, January 28, 2019

The Birth of Science

"Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name" (Genesis 2:19).

In Genesis 2:19–20 we find the birth of science. One of the tasks of science is to harness the forces of the natural world, making them work for us rather than against us. We improve our agricultural skills; we invent fire and atomic energy; we devise ships for the sea and planes for the air. In this way, man exercises dominion over his environment, as God commanded in Genesis 1:28. Since the Fall and the entrance of sin into the world, man’s ability to do this has been greatly frustrated.

The whole enterprise of science begins with taxonomy—the naming of things in categories. In taxonomy, we see the process of individuation. What is the difference between, or what individuates, a man and an ape?

In order to carry out this task of individuation, we must carefully note similarities and differences. For instance, the way in which medical science makes progress is by means of ever more precise and careful differentiation. In the case of a new disease, we must categorize whether it is caused by bacteria or a virus, or by something else. We must then distinguish between different kinds of cures to ascertain which prescription applies to which disease. Each time we make a new distinction, we have added to the body of knowledge that comprises science.

Thus, dominion over creation begins with taxonomy in Adam’s naming of the animals. He had to notice specific characteristics, becoming aware of which animals were similar and which were different. He learned to distinguish between “the livestock, the birds of the air, and all the beasts of the field” (v. 20).

The most important thing Adam had to notice was that there were two different kinds, or genders, of each animal. One was male, like himself, and the other was female. Adam sensed that there was some kind of parallel between himself and the animals, and became aware that he too should have a female counterpart. God’s provision for Adam’s need is the subject of tomorrow’s study of the creation of woman.

Science in recent years has come to be viewed as the enemy rather than the child of Christianity. This attitude stems both from science and the church. Seek to develop a more biblical understanding of the role of science perhaps by studying the life of Isaac Newton, scientist and theologian.