Is Scripture at Odds with Science?
Is Scripture at odds with science? Thomas Aquinas certainly didn’t think so. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul examines Aquinas’ teaching on the two sources of truth that God has given us: grace and nature. Today, watch the entire message for free.
The double truth theory basically said this: Something can be true in philosophy and false in religion at the same time. Or it can be true by faith but false in science at the same time. Now, let’s translate that idea to contemporary categories. We see the raging controversy that goes on about human origins. Are we as human beings the product of a purposive act of divine creation, or are we merely fortuitous cosmic accidents, grown-up germs that have spontaneously come out of a chance collision of atoms? Now, obviously we cannot both be purposefully created by a self-existent, eternal God and at the same time be cosmic accidents. Those two concepts cannot be reconciled. But a double-truth thinker would say this: “I’m a religious person, but I’m also a scientist. So, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I will believe in creation, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I will believe in man as a cosmic accident. And on Sunday, I’ll rest from the controversy.” Do you see what’s going on here? It is a separation or a disjunction between faith and reason, between philosophy and religion, between theology and science, where the two don’t meet or ever overlap. Now, it’s precisely against that kind of thinking that Saint Thomas Aquinas—who had been the illustrious student of Albert the Great, and who had been called by his student classmates while he was in school “the dumb ox of Aquino,” to which Albert the Great replied, “This dumb ox is going to astonish the world with his brilliance.” But in any case, it was against this kind of thinking that Aquinas was responding. He realized that if you had that kind of disjunction between faith and reason, an antithesis between science and religion, you would end up as an intellectual schizophrenic, and it would make truth impossible to reconcile. And so, he said that there are certain truths that we learn from nature and other truths that we learn from grace. What he means by that is something like this: If you study nature, you can learn something about the circulatory system of the human body. But you can read the Bible all you want, and the Bible will not reveal to you the intricacies of the circulatory system of the human body or the molecular structure of a leaf. You have to apply natural science and empirical investigation to discover that sort of thing. So, you get certain truths—truths that don’t contradict the Scriptures or contradict special revelation—but you don’t find that content in the Bible. You find other truths, according to Aquinas, that are revealed to us only in the Bible, that you can’t discover with the microscope or with a telescope. For example, God’s plan of salvation—you can’t study that in a laboratory. You get that through the revelation of Scripture. So, you have two sources of truth: grace and nature.