An addendum on scientists

I have had for some time on my shelf Tom Nettles huge tome on Spurgeon, Living by Revealed Truth. I started trying to read it cover to cover but it’s a huge thing and have typically dipped into it here and there. As I was recently looking through it, it seems Spurgeon landed on something I said yesterday. I just wanted to note I wasn’t the first one to notice it.

A Christian’s ambivalence toward science is rooted in the proneness of many scientists to use their success in mastering the scientific method of research, and the many advances in medicine, technology, mechanics, and numerous other areas to justify their assumption of authority as metaphysicians. Spurgeon observed this tendency; while, therefore, he nurtured a healthy respect for science and scientists, his acceptance of their philosophical ontology was far from impressive. “The most absurd theories will have their admirers,” Spurgeon noted, “if they come from men of great scientific attainments.” Their actual discoveries will fuel admiration for their speculation. The dynamic in the scientific world, Spurgeon noticed is the same as in the world of finance. Just as thrift and sound investment policy leads to real wealth and then fuels “ruinous speculation,” so “real scientific knowledge often leads to more than ordinary folly.” The ones to whom we should be able to look for “real acquisitions and clear reasonings in natural science are the first to overleap its boundaries and to substitute their own reveries for established facts.”

Despite such comments, Spurgeon still rightly revered science:

While Spurgeon severely doubted, and at times scoffed, at the conclusions of some scientists derived from speculative hypotheses, he considered science the friend of divine revelation. “For our part,” he affirmed, “we hail the light that streams upward from the dark places of the earth.” He welcomed archaeology, geology, and physical geography as “the very sciences that God has ordained to be his witnesses, to frustrate the tokens of liars, to make diviners mad, and to confirm the word of his servants the prophets.” “We have no fear,” he commented, “for the result of the conflict between science and religion: the God of Nature is the God of the Bible, and when we read both aright we shall not see conflict, but deep unity and harmony.”

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