My husband is a big fan of Apple products. Whenever a new operating system or software update comes out, he makes sure to get our electronics up to speed. As the less tech-literate of the two, I am more inclined to hit the “Remind Me Later” button when iTunes tells me version 10.something is available. But, in reality, these little reminders represent Apple’s growth in knowledge and capabilities. Continual research on their part leads to exciting innovation and improved products—and more reasons for my hubby to peruse our local Apple store—even in the wake of Steve Jobs’ resignation.
In much the same way, scientific knowledge undergoes updates whenever new discoveries provide fresh data or novel insights. However, some people seem to view discoveries that challenge or change scientific assumptions as evidence of science’s unreliability. In conversations with people at my church, I’ve noticed that they sometimes display skepticism toward science’s authority because of the frequent changes.
For example, last week headlines at Scienceand Yahoo! News declared new research reveals that the Moon may be 100 million years younger than previously thought. The research, based on investigations of a lunar rock brought back by Apollo 16, calls into question prevailing Moon-formation theories. However, the issue is not, by any means, settled among scientists.
Some Christians might be inclined to point to such a discovery as evidence of science’s fickleness. RTB astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink cautions believers against using such an argument on the August 19 episode of Science News Flash.
This is exactly how I expect science to operate—it has always operated this way. You build a picture and then you try to refine the details. You’re adjusting and making things more and more consistent. In fact, that’s how we study Scripture. We get the big picture and then we continue to read and adjust and get more details so that the picture becomes more fully fleshed out. This is what’s going on with this discovery—it’s helping us flesh out the details with tools we didn’t have before.
Science is all about discovery. Research reveals fresh information that has to be accounted for; sometimes that means adjusting our theories and models to suit newly uncovered facts. But rather than undermining scientific authority, such growth in knowledge increases that authority. The day scientific knowledge ceases to change will be the imaginary day we know absolutely everything there is to know about everything.
And as Jeff and the other RTB scholars have demonstrated time and again, changes in science benefit Christian apologetics by continually providing better support for Scripture. So next time a science update makes the news, thank God that He’s given us the ability to explore and discover more details about His world.