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Religion & Philosophy Research Guide: Philosophy of Science

This research guide features resources and strategies for finding information and conducting research related to Religion and Philosophy.


The Relationship of Faith to Science


"The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator."
"Science brings men nearer to God."
~ Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

(for more on Pasteur, see this LU faculty paper by Gillen and Ambrose)


This guide on Faith & Science serves as a primer on the subjects of how the Chrisitan worldview relates to science. Resources have been selected that are generally helpful for entering the conversation, although some materials will still require discernment and critique from a biblical perspective.

Several titles examine the philosophical and theological foundations of our study of God's creation. They also point out limits to scientific claims and the need for biblical grounding of scientific assumptions. Other titles review the history of Christianity's engagement with the scientific method. These materials speak to different models of integrating empirical and theological epistemologies. Then some titles examine the doctrine of creation from a trinitarian foundation. Topics include God's glory in creating, Christ's past redemption and future restoration through a new creation, and the present goodness of human stewardship over creation. Lastly, resources on the Philosophy of Science are provided, mostly from a naturalistic point of view. These offer insights into philosophical problems such as: defining and practicing science, identifying ideologies held by scientists, navigating the limits of induction, and skeptical challenges to empiricism.

Feel free to reach out to the library for other questions about the Philosophy of Science, the theological foundation for doing science, and concordance of scientific study with the Christian faith.


Christian Approaches to Science & Biblical Foundations for Doing Science
Assuming some level of concordance modeling between faith with science, several resources highlight the necessary role of Christianity for science. In this sense, faith provides the needed metaphysical, moral, and teleological (i.e., purposeful) foundations for science; things which empiricism cannot do for itself. There are many assumptions or presuppositions that science begins with, but which are actually supplied and grounded by means of a biblical worldview. Science needs Christianity in that biblical faith warrants and justifies our inquiry into nature and creation. Scripture provides a true foundation for studying God's creation.

  • Science assumes that we can acquire truth, arrive at understanding, or obtain real knowledge. But note how these assumptions are grounded in biblical theism where the everlasting God is Truth, speaks truth, and made us in His image so that we can arrive at truth. Naturalism and materialism cannot sufficiently explain why we believe in reasoning or why we ought to trust our rational faculties. 
  • Science does a wonderful job of explaining how the material world works, or how to make that world work for us (i.e., developing medicine). However, reshaping the material world is a different task than creating that material. Christian faith explains where the material came from, why it is good, the limits of its proper use, and how to properly love our neighbor within a created order.
  • Science presupposes that the world is real, that it will be here tomorrow, and that principles of physics, biology, and chemistry will remain the same. Put in other terms, science assumes there are laws of nature that have been, are, and will continue to be, constant in all places. Christian faith, on the other hand, explains that these are not actually laws of nature, per se, but God's ongoing sustaining of His creation, the continued upholding of that reality.
  • Science cannot observe or empirically study non-material things like the concepts of value, meaning, or purpose. And yet these intangibles prove to be intractably part of human living and shared experience. A biblical worldview can explain value, meaning, and purpose, while then applying those concepts to the scientific inquiry, directing and focusing research. 
  • Science is different from the individual who practices that science. The questions of personal virtue, ethical boundaries, agent-morality, and intellectual vices are not derived from empirical study. While we can celebrate the advances and benefits of scientific learning (e.g., modern surgery), we will always have to wrestle with the fallen human nature, sinful hearts, and the realities human existence.

To learn more about how a Christian worldview provides a foundation for doing science, see the gallery on the right.
For starters, try: Brush, Moreland, or Lennox
On God's glory in creation, try: Hiestand, Davis, or Ashford.

"Who could live in close contact with the most consummate order and divine wisdom and not feel
drawn to the loftiest aspirations? Who could not adore the architect of all these things?"

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543)



                                             Concordance Theories
Much has been written on how to relate science to Christianity or faith. Many titles have chronicled the birth and growth of science alongside Christianity or by the work of believing scientists. Various resources also speak to the compatibility of doing science and being a Christian. Can the two epistemologies truly engage, collaborate, or work together? If so, in what ways to they integrate? Here are some sample models:


  1. Conflict or Combat - The Warfare Thesis. Science and faith are completely incompatible. They are 'at war' with one another and are deemed to be mutually exclusive. One cannot exist alongside the other; particularly, Christianity and religion get in the way of science, prevent it, or suppress it. For this model, the goal is to keep Christianity out of science, to deny such a thing as "Christian Science," and to prevent faith-supporting theories (like Intelligent Design) from being included in the definition of science. Faith is often redefined as a leap, irrationality, or superstition, or simply believing in the absurd. 
  2. Compartmentalization - Independence or NOMA (which stands for non-overlapping magisteria). Science and faith operate in their own areas, according to distinct values or methods of inquiry. They never engage with each other, and the fields of study are never joined. As such, they cannot be seen as contradicting one another because they address different bodies of knowledge. This model makes it safe for religion/faith to be acknowledged in its own right (science never directly contradicts Scripture), but this is because it disallows any interaction or cross-over between Scripture and science on the same object of inquiry. Faith cannot inform, correct, or add to science. 
  3. Convergence - Qualified Integration and Dialogue. The goal of integration is to establish ways in which science and faith can engage without appearing to be contradictory. This model can include holding to a metaphysical worldview of theism, in principle, while still limiting oneself to methodological naturalism in daily laboratory practices. Integration often accepts evolution as a proven known, and then seeks to re-interpret the biblical text in a way that allows for current scientific claims to be compatible with Scripture. Faith can offer additional perspectives and can supplement science, but full integration is often tenuous and inconsistent. 
  4. Concordance - Full Complementarity and metaphysical grounding. Science and faith are fully compatible, mutually re-enforcing each other. They can address the same topic of inquiry, bringing multiple perspectives of inquiry, and establishing a congruity between two epistemologies. In a concordance model, Christianity provides the needed grounding or philosophical foundations for the task of science (see more below), while science provides a God-given process of empirical investigation and knowledge acquisition. Faith provides the needed ethical boundaries for doing science. Science, when done well, will never formally contradict Scripture. In many cases, there is less emphasis on re-interpreting the Bible to match science, and more emphasis on revising scientific claims (which may in fact change with further study)

To learn more about the various concordance models, see the gallery on the right. 
For starters, try: Harrison, Carlson, or Ferngren.

"It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity."
~ Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)


The Philosophy of Science 

The field of study known as the Philosophy of Science addresses the nature of science. Many of these resources come from secular, atheistic, or naturalistic worldviews. They are, however, quite helpful for researching and understanding the concept of science itself, and the foundational principles for doing science:

  1. What are the problems of Induction? Can empiricism provide absolute certainty, and can it ever defeat skepticism?
  2. Are there limits to what science can, or cannot, learn? Does underdetermination hinder the reliability of science?
  3. How have different philosophers addressed the nature of science, and where do they disagree?
  4. Where is the line of demarcation between what counts as science, or what is not considered as science; and who decides? 
  5. How has postmodernity, personal bias, or modern ideologies impacted the nature of doing science?
  6. Can "science" ever allow for intelligent design, the supernatural (i.e., miracles), or non-material causes?
  7. Is there a difference between Scientism as a worldview and scientists as real people doing daily work?

To learn more about the philosophy of science, see the gallery on the right.
For starters, try: Rosenberg, DeWitt, or Godfrey-Smith.

"The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics."Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)


Discover more about Faith Learning Integration at Liberty University


Towards a Christian View of Science


"Above everything is the glory of God, who created the great universe, which man and science discover and research day after day in profound adoration."Wernher von Braun (1912 – 1977)


God's Glory in Creation & Re-Creation


"Nothing prevents us, and the momentum of our knowledge requires it… to interrelate the order of the universe and the God of religion. For the believer, God stands at the beginning of their speeches; for the physicist, at the end of them."Max Planck (1858 – 1947)


Models of Concordance and the History of Science


"I became a believer in my own way through the microscope and observation of nature, and I want to contribute, insofar as I can, to the full harmony between science and religion." Carl Ludwig Schleich (1859 – 1922)


The Philosophy of Science (from mostly naturalistic perspectives)


"I had the intention of becoming a theologian… but now I see how God is, by my endeavours, also glorified in astronomy, for “the heavens declare the glory of God.” Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)




Would you like to learn more about the relationship of Christianity to science? Are you interested in developing a better understanding the Philosophy of Science and how faith integrates into a robust epistemology? Ask a Librarian!
Book an appointment to talk about your paper project or to discuss different resources on the topic.