Reading Scripture in the Light of Modern Science

Reading Scripture in the Light of Modern Science
Presented by Emeritus Professor John R Pilbrow at the ISCAST Vic Intensive 2010


Professor Pilbrow, MSc (NZ) DPhil (Oxon) DSc (Monash) FAIP FInstP, for 36 years a member of the academic staff, Department of Physics, Monash University, held a Personal Chair and was Head of Department for nine years. Author or co-author of more than 200 scientific publications and one book. Winner of the 1998 Bruker Prize in the UK for EPR Spectroscopy. He was President of the Australian Institute of Physics (1999-2000) & the International EPR Society (1999-2002).


The purpose of this lecture is to explore how best to read scripture, particularly when it refers to natural phenomena, in the light of modern science. It will be argued that when scripture speaks of natural phenomena, it is not speaking scientifically but theologically. 

A first step in establishing ground rules for reading scripture in today’s scientific and technological age involves identifying the metaphysical assumptions and methodologies that underpin both theology and science. These assumptions are not ‘set in concrete’, nor were they delivered on ‘tablets of stone’. In fact they go on being refined by informed feedback. 

Once there is some agreement regarding underlying assumptions it becomes possible to entertain meaningful dialogue concerning links at the metaphysical level between theological and scientific concepts that relate to the same reality. 

The discussion will be in the context of a view of creation theology which acknowledges a real debt to modern science and in which science is seen to be God’s gift to us. This implies the need to relate science and theology carefully when both address the same reality. An important consequence is that science can, and must, inform our reading of scripture while Scripture can and does inform our science. 

Examples will be drawn from well-known creation texts [Genesis 1-3, John 1:1-14, Colossians 1:15-19], the Psalms and other references to natural phenomena found elsewhere in both NT and OT. They will be considered on their own merits, taking into account the kind of literature involved.

 Download pdf - Presentation Notes



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