07 September 2008

Science, Falsely So-Called

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "How To Meet the Evils of the Age," chapter 4 in An All-Round Ministry.

e are invited, brethren, most earnestly to go away from the old-fashioned belief of our forefathers because of the supposed discoveries of science. What is science? The method by which man tries to conceal his ignorance. It should not be so, but so it is. You are not to be dogmatical in theology, my brethren, it is wicked; but for scientific men, it is the correct thing. You are never to assert anything very strongly; but scientists may boldly assert what they cannot prove, and may demand a faith far more credulous than any we possess.

Forsooth, you and I are to take our Bibles, and shape and mould our belief according to the ever-shifting teachings of so-called scientific men. What folly is this! Why, the march of science, falsely so-called, through the world, may be traced by exploded fallacies and abandoned theories. Former explorers, once adored, are now ridiculed; the continual exposure of false hypotheses is a matter of universal notoriety. You may tell where the learned have encamped by the debris left behind of suppositions and theories as plentiful as broken bottles. As the quacks, who ruled the world of medicine in one age, are the scorn of the next, so has it been, and so will it be, with your atheistical savants and pretenders to science.

But they remind us of facts. Are they not yet ashamed to use the word? Wonderful facts, made to order, and twisted to their will to overthrow the actual facts which the pen of God Himself has recorded! Let me quote from "Is the Book Wrong?" by Mr. Hely Smith, a pamphlet worthy of an extensive reading:—

"For example, deep down in the alluvial deposits in the delta of the Nile were found certain fragments of pottery. Pottery, of course, implies potters; but these deposits of mud, Sir Charles Lyell decreed, must have taken 18,000 years to accumulate, therefore there must have been men carrying on the occupations of civilized life at least 7,000 years before the creation of man as recorded in Scripture. What clearer proof could be wanted that the Book was wrong? For who would presume to suspect Sir C. Lyell of making a mistake in his work? A mistake, however, he had made, for, in the same deposits of mud, at the same depth in which this 'pre-Adamite pottery' was discovered, there also turned up a brick bearing the stamp of Mahomet Ali! [Yet we were bound to shift the Bible to suit that 'fact '—muddy fact!] Again, some curiously-shaped pieces of flint were discovered in 1858 in what has been called 'the famous cavern at Brixham.' It was at once decided that the flints showed signs of human workmanship, and as they were found in company with the bones of extinct animals, it was also at once considered proved that man must have existed in immensely remote ages, and the evidence was said to have 'revolutionized the whole of Western Europe on the question of man's antiquity.' The history of these flints is remarkable. For fourteen years, they were kept under lock and key in the rooms of the Geological Society; but public curiosity was gratified by plaster casts shown at the cavern, and by illustrated descriptions published in an imposing volume. According to the evidence thus afforded to the public, there seemed no doubt left but that these flints bore the marks of the mind and hand of man, thus associating man with a pre-Adamite race of animals. The cause of truth owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Nicholas Whitley, Honorary Secretary of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, for the acuteness which led him to suspect that there was something wrong, the perseverance with which he followed up his suspicions, and the boldness with which he made public the result, which was simple, but suggestive. The plaster casts the drawings and descriptions, were not the casts, drawings, or descriptions of the real flints found in the cavern! The originals were, with one or two exceptions, evidently purely natural specimens of flints; and persons who have seen the landscape stones, and the marvellous likeness of human faces on inaccessible rocks, will not be disposed to overthrow the whole of Revelation because of one or two curiously-shaped stones found in company with the remains of extinct animals. If the cause had not been so weak, what was the necessity for trying to strengthen and supplement it by presenting the public with false statements? With regard to all these supposed flint implements and spears and arrow-heads, found in various places, it may be as well to mention here the frank confession of Dr. Carpenter. He has told us from the presidential chair of the Royal Academy that no 'logical proof can be adduced that the peculiar shapes of these flints were given them by human hands.'"

So the bubbles go on bursting, and meanwhile more are being blown, and we are expected to believe in whatever comes, and wait with open mouth to see what comes next. But we shall not just yet fall down and worship the image of human wisdom, notwithstanding all the flutes, harps, sackbuts, psalteries, dulcimers, weekly papers, quarterly reviews, and boastful professors. Show us a man of science worthy of the name, and then we will not follow him if he dares to oppose revealed truth; but show us one in whom the next generation will believe; at present, there is not one alive worthy to be compared with Newton and other master-minds reverent to the Scriptures, compared with whom these men are mere pretenders. See, my brethren, we have unbelief, scientific and otherwise, to contend with, and we must meet it in the Name of the Lord.
C. H. Spurgeon


Polycarp said...

As usual, Spurgeon nails this societal ill with biblical authority and observartional accuracy in describing the evil residing in the hearts of men and women! I love the fact that nowhere does he give even the slightest ounce of validation to the absurd and hell-wrought notion of creatolution we hear so often today in our "sophisticated" socity--that logically impossible fusing together of complete opposites: the Genesis account of creation and Satan's evolutionary lie. This rubbish is embraced by pagans with enough religion in their lives to feel they need to accomodate the "version" held by the church, yet would never subscribe to completely because they fancy themselves as being too "smart" for that. In their need to find "balance," and as a replacement for faith, they attempt to appease God by saying He allows for evolution to occur in their sympathy for the biblical view. Of course, God neither desires nor needs the sypathy of those who ought to weep over their unbelief!

Melody said...

Just so non-musical readers know, the sackbut is the original name for the trombone.

Spurgeon really is timeless. Except for the mention of the sackbut, this could have been written yesterday.

Randy Talley said...

Well, "forsooth" manages to date the excerpt as well, but so what? He hit the nail on the head... again.

Trevbot said...

Wow, as a college student this is great. Spurgeon basically backs up all the Van-Tilian apologetics I learned in high school (praise the grace of God!). Not a week ago my western civilization professor called all those who disagree with the "facts" of science "flatearthers."
But Spurgeon was right, what makes more sense:
a)Believing God, who has perfect perspective and hasn't changed since the dawn of His creation, or
b)Believing science, which is made and interpreted by fallible men who change their minds every 100 years (if their theories even last that long).

But ultimately science isn't the perpetrator is it? It's the depravity of the human heart that desires an excuse, any excuse to believe there is no God to be accountable to for their lives. And that's why we don't preach science, we preach a crucified Christ, who can make light shine into the darkest hearts. (We have our own as proof)

Gilbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gilbert said...

As a scientist, I say...

SPOT ON, Mr. Spurgeon. As a meteorologist, I find this quote refreshing. Alas, even the best weathercasters cannot consistently predict 30 minutes ahead of time if it will rain; too many unknowns and too little understanding prohibit it at times.

And now the community says man-made global warming will be the cause of the end of civilization if we don't stop burning fossil fuels? Did our Lord not know our 2 billion people were coming and accomodate our orb as such? Did we create man from dust?

I pray for the souls of those who think they can see yet cannot see, that they may repent and believe the Good News!

Philip said...

Worthy sentiment,for sure,but there are a couple of things that it is only fair to say. First,I understand Spurgeon entertained a gap-theory...at least at one stage. I read some comments once in a famous sermon on election that said as much. He was taking at least part of his cue from his derived view of the ages of fossils. Likewise,Warfield believed theistic evolution was possible...science is good,if a man use it lawfully. I did a physics degree a few years ago,and I can safely say with hindsight and in corroboration with scripture that natural man,in his independence,pridefully boasts in his objectivity,but alas!doesn't realize that he is subject to the power of sin,and thus-most evidently when it comes to an issue which patently calls for a supressing of the truth in unrighteousness-cannot objectively appraise concerning the big picture. But of course-despite the worthy scientific apologetics of some-the cure is not good logic,but the power of God to salvation that is a full and free pardon and the gift of His righteousness,with no preparation.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

I wonder if Spurgeon was alive today if he would agree with these 2 quotes about science/technology.

"There is an evil tendency underlying all our technology - the tendency to do what is reasonable even when it isn't any good."-Robert Pirsig

"Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it."-Max Frisch

Polycarp said...

Phillip and Gilbert:

Glory be to God for believers like yourselves, with degrees in the sciences!! Because I am not in any way a scientist, I am forced to make my conclusions about specific matters of science from educated believers, with ethos in their respective fields, who are committed to the inerrancy of scripture. Of course, this last requirement leaves a pretty small pool, as I'm sure you'd agree. So, regarding the matter of theistic evolution (or "creatolution" as I call it), I've been convinced by what I've heard in the arguments from those scientific men of God who do not appear to accomodate such a blending. Nonetheless, as a non-scientist, I cannot describe the specific details that are pertinent to my arriving at such a conclusion, which makes science so frustrating. Thank you for your insights.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

As one highly specialized mathematician/scientist stated "We're not really trained to think about it”. The fact is that many brilliant scientists are not trained to think about the philosophical and moral ramifications of their daily work. We often wrongly assume that if someone is very smart in a particular field it automatically transfers to all other areas of their life, and more often than not that is not the case.

The quote below says a lot:


"We're not really trained to think about it. We're highly specialized engineers and mathematicians and scientists, and we don't really reflect too much on the philosophy of what we're doing.

Academic researchers, most of the ones I know anyway, are focused on the five-year time frame. You're just looking at your little piece of the gigantic puzzle, and you don't really look at all the pieces being put together into something that's either a gigantic problem or really beautiful.”

Polycarp said...


Great points, as you frequently offer some of the most interesting links to consider!

Jonathan Vowell said...

What was it C.S. Lewis said?

"It is the glory of science to progress."

Translation: It is the nature of science to NEVER reach a definite conclusion.

Good stuff, guys. Keep 'em coming.

Philip said...

Kudos, Polycarp. I believe you're right. I haven't looked at their stuff for a long time,but 'Answers in Genesis'look at creation/evolution topics from a scientific angle,for general readers. That may interest you. Science,like anything else,is a frustrated thing where it's not yet put under Him, our new covenant :)