Fundamental Assumptions


"Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

"Science and Religion," part 2, by Albert Einstein. This section of the article is from Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941.

Lest there be any doubt, Einstein went on to make clear that he did not believe in a personal God. But his point remains. Probably the greatest scientist of the 20th century believed that science and religion should not be enemies, and he had a profound respect for religion, and a strong belief in a rational and ordered universe. We believe, at SWU, that we know why the universe is orderly and rational--an omnipotent, rational and orderly God created it that way.

Christianity and Science

If God created the universe, then it is real and an important part of what is ultimately true, not merely an illusion. Since God is rational and caring, then the universe He has created would be rational and consistent. Thus there is nothing to fear in what scientists discover, as seeking to understand the world is seeking to understand God's creation. The Bible describes God's creation as being both real, and good - therefore worth studying. The idea of consistent 'natural laws' was first derived from the Bible rather than from nature and nature was studied with the expectation of finding natural laws. If humans were created in the image of God then you would expect us to be able to understand God's creation and be able to design experiments - perhaps this is why mathematics (an entirely human construction) is so powerful in describing the natural world.

Components of a Christian Worldview for SWU Science Division

  1. God is a personal-social-moral-rational "being," who is eternal, almighty, transcendent, just, loving and holy.
  2. The Bible is God's revelation to humanity, its purpose is to teach, rebuke, correct, and train us in righteous living so that we may become people of God prepared for a life of service. Scripture speaks to the totality of life-vital to everything in our life and world-no compartments labeled "sacred" and "secular." However, the Bible is not a scientific textbook. God also reveals Himself through nature, His creation.
  3. God has created the universe out of nothing and he sustains it as an orderly system dependent on Him.
  4. The physical is not the only reality, nor all that is rational.  However, the physical can be determined reliably through sense perceptions and is repeatable.
  5. The cosmos/universe is an orderly and intelligible system.  Natural laws are built into the system, and it is God’s plan rarely to violate them.  The natural order provides a kind of theater for human activity, and makes possible many creaturely goods (e.g., beauty, pleasure, etc.).
  6. At death the physical body ceases to function, but the spirit persists.  The spirit either enters an eternal life with God or eternal separation from Him.
  7. Objective truth exists and is knowable.  We find it by using our God-given ability for rational thought.
  8. Reason and experience can be legitimate teachers.  However, a supernatural source of truth is necessary and we can know that truth as God reveals it in the Bible and nature.
  9. Moral laws exist; God’s character and the clear biblical teachings make possible an ethical system that applies to all humans.  Basic moral and ethical principles flow from the kind of beings that we are.  Moral laws have validity because human beings are made to act in certain ways and be treated in certain ways.
  10. God created humankind in His image and created an orderly and rational universe as an environment for human beings’ sphere of activity.  Therefore, personhood must be viewed as a unity, man is a holistic being.  His essence is not just animal, nor a pure spirit, temporarily residing within a physical body.
  11. The meaning of human life is found in right relationship to God and to our fellow creatures.  The fallen state of humankind has made necessary God’s great plan of salvation, which includes the incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth, the atonement of sin through suffering and death, and the hope of eternal life through His resurrection from the dead.
  12. God created humans to be in relationship with Him. Humans were created to glorify God and to exercise dominion over God’s creation as His image-bearers.  Therefore, the role of humankind is one of stewardship.
  13. History is linear and is a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for humans.

THEOLOGY

Question: Is there a God and if so, what is His nature?
Answer: He is a personal-social-moral-rational "being," who is eternal, almighty, transendent, just, loving and holy.

Question: How can God be known?
Answer: The Bible is God's revelation to humanity, its purpose is to teach, rebuke, correct, and train us in righteous living so that we may become people of God prepared for a life of service. Scripture speaks to the totality of life-vital to everything in our life and world-no compartments labeled "sacred" and "secular." However, the Bible is not a scientific textbook. God also reveals Himself through nature, His creation.

METAPHYSICS

Question: Why is there something rather than nothing?
Answer: God has created the universe out of nothing and he sustains it as an orderly system dependent on him.

Question: What is the nature of ultimate reality?
Answer: The physical is not the only reality, nor all that is rational. However, the physical can be determined reliably through sense perceptions and is repeatable.

Question: What is the nature of the universe?
Answer: The cosmos/universe is an orderly and intelligible system. Natural laws are built into the system, and it is God’s plan rarely to violate them. The natural order provides a kind of theater for human activity, and makes possible many creaturely goods (e.g., beauty, pleasure, etc.).

Question: What happens to a person at death?
Answer: At death the physical body ceases to function, but the spirit persists. The spirit either enters an eternal life with God or eternal separation from Him.

EPISTEMOLOGY

Question: How do we know what you know?
Answer: Objective truth exists and is knowable. We find it by using our God-given ability for rational thought.

Question: What is the ultimate authority in the realm of knowledge?
Answer: Reason and experience can be legitimate teachers. However, a supernatural source of truth is necessary and we can know that truth as God reveals it in the Bible and nature.

ETHICS

Question: How do you determine what is right and wrong?
Answer: Moral laws exist; God’s character and the clear biblical teachings make possible an ethical system that applies to all humans. Basic moral and ethical principles flow from the kind of beings that we are. Moral laws have validity because human beings are made to act in certain ways and be treated in certain ways.

ANTHROPOLOGY

Question: How do we explain human nature?
Answer: God created humankind in His image and created an orderly and rational universe as an environment for human beings’ sphere of activity. Therefore, personhood must be viewed as a unity, man is a holistic being. His essence is not just animal, nor a pure spirit, temporarily residing within a physical body.

Question: What is the meaning of life?
Answer: The meaning of human life is found in right relationship to God and to our fellow creatures. The fallen state of humankind has made necessary God’s great plan of salvation, which includes the incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth, the atonement of sin through suffering and death, and the hope of eternal life through his resurrection from the dead.

Question: What is man’s ultimate purpose?
Answer: God created humans to be in relationship with Him. Humans were created to glorify God and to exercise dominion over God’s creation as His image-bearers. Therefore, the role of humankind is one of stewardship.

Question: What is the meaning of history?
Answer: : History is a linear and meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God's purposes for humans.

Modified from http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4224519/k.362A/Worldviews.htm, http://frontlinemin.org/christianworldview.asp, Richard T. Wright’s Biology Through the Eyes of Faith, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities' conferences and other conferences on science and faith.