This denial of science and critical thinking among religious ultraconservatives now haunts the American response to the coronavirus crisis.3
Stewart attributes this “denial of science” to Robert Lewis Dabney4 in an excerpt from his sermon entitled “A Caution Against Anti-Christian Science”5 based on Colossians 2:8.6 In quoting Dabney, Stewart applies his “denial of science” to the majority of evangelicals.
Did Dabney really deny science? The first line of the previously referenced excerpt should enlighten us regarding his stance.
No naturalistic arguments from observed effects to their natural causes, however good the induction, have any force to prove a natural origin for any structure older than authentic human history, except upon atheistic premises.7
To clarify, Dabney claims that naturalistic science and atheism are inseparable, thus making naturalistic science “anti-Christian.” He proceeds to illustrate his definition with several instances of uniformitarianism (the idea that present processes perfectly explain the past).
What science is Dabney opposing? Naturalistic science.
Did Robert Dabney oppose physical science (defined as any of the natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and astronomy?)8 Here’s an excerpt from one of his many lectures.
Science exalts experience above hypothesis even more than testimony. Now, the whole state of the world bears the appearance of recency (sic)… But stronger still, geology proves the creation, in time, of race after race of animals, and the comparatively recent origin of man, by her fossil records. These show the absolute beginning of genera. And the attempt to account for them by the development theory (Chambers or Darwin) is utterly repudiated by even the better irreligious philosophers; for if there is anything that Natural History has established, it is that organic life is separated from inorganic forces, mechanical, chemical, electrical or other, by inexorable bounds; and that genera may begin or end, but never transmute themselves into other genera.9
Robert Dabney didn’t attack the physical sciences. On the contrary, he stated that geology proved creation. This isn’t a “denial of science and critical thinking.” In fact, as our researchers have routinely demonstrated, good science confirms the biblical account.
Katherine Stewart’s article attempts to blame evangelicals for influencing President Donald Trump with their “science denialism.” This response does not seek to deal with each and every claim made by the author, but one thing is for sure—biblical Christianity is not inherently anti-science.
In the words of our founder, Dr. Henry M. Morris, evolution “is a belief passionately defended by the scientific establishment, despite the lack of any observable scientific evidence.”10 Science can be done unapologetically within the presupposition of biblical creationism. That’s what ICR has done and will continue to do.
1. This title was later changed to “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response.” Accessed April 1, 2020.
2. Stewart, K. “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response.” The New York Times. Posted on nytimes.com March 27, 2020, accessed April 2, 2020.
4. Please reference Creation Ministries International’s biographical sketch on Robert Lewis Dabney for more information.
5. Dabney, R. L. The Theo-logical Limits of Science. New Hope Presbyterian.
6. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8, NKJV)
8. “Natural Sciences.” Merriam Webster Dictionary. Accessed March 27, 2020.
9. Dabney, R. L. 1878. Chapter 1, Turretin’s Argument from Unequal Infinites, Point 5. In Systematic Theology, 2nd edition. St. Louis, MO: Presbyterian Publishing Co.
10. Morris, H. M. The Scientific Case Against Evolution. Posted on icr.org, accessed April 2, 2020.
*Robert L. H. Wegner is an Event Coordinator at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Master of Christian Education from ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics.