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Is There Conflict Between Science and Religion?
Prepared by Leon Keith Jackson for the Agora
Part 1: Defining Science & The Christian Position
*What is Science?
A common definition we would find in Science education materials would give us an answer like:
*Science = Asking questions and finding answers.
“A route for increasing our knowledge of ourselves and the world we live in”1
I would like instead to begin with this definition of Science, from the Encarta:
*Brief summary of Science from the Microsoft Encarta.2
Science, systematic study of anything that can be examined, tested, and verified. The word science is derived from the Latin word scire, meaning “to know.” From its early beginnings, science has developed into one of the greatest and most influential fields of human endeavor. Today different branches of science investigate almost everything that can be observed or detected, and science as a whole shapes the way we understand the universe, our planet, ourselves, and other living things.
Science develops through objective analysis, instead of through personal belief. Knowledge gained in science accumulates as time goes by, building on work performed earlier.
Scientists utilize existing knowledge in new scientific investigations to predict how things will behave. Sometimes scientific predictions go much further by describing objects or events that are not yet known. An outstanding instance occurred in 1869, when the Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleyev drew up a periodic table of the elements arranged to illustrate patterns of recurring chemical and physical properties. Mendeleyev used this table to predict the existence and describe the properties of several elements unknown in his day, and when the elements were discovered several years later, his predictions proved to be correct.
In science, important advances can also be made when current ideas are shown to be wrong. A classic case of this occurred early in the 20th century, when the German geologist Alfred Wegener suggested that the continents were at one time connected, a theory known as continental drift. At the time, most geologists discounted Wegener's ideas, because the Earth's crust seemed to be fixed. But following the discovery of plate tectonics in the 1960s, in which scientists found that the Earth’s crust is actually made of moving plates, continental drift became an important part of geology.
Through advances like these, scientific knowledge is constantly added to and refined.
As a result, science gives us an ever more detailed insight into the way the world around us works.
Some forms of technology have become so well established that it is easy to forget the great scientific achievements that they represent. Alongside these achievements, science has also brought about technology that helps save human life. As a result, the majority of people on the planet now live longer and healthier lives than ever before.
However, scientific discoveries can also have a negative impact in human affairs. Over the last hundred years, some of the technological advances that make life easier or more enjoyable have proved to have unwanted and often unexpected long-term effects. Industrial and agricultural chemicals pollute the global environment, even in places as remote as Antarctica, and city air is contaminated by toxic gases from vehicle exhausts (see Pollution). Science has also been used to develop technology that raises complex ethical questions. This is particularly true in the fields of biology and medicine (see Medical Ethics).
1 Malcom Jeeves and R. J. Berry – Science, Life and the Christian Belief – A Survey and assessment (Published by Apollos, an imprint of the Inter-Varsity Press) 2Contributed By: David Burnie, Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation.Scientific research can be divided into basic science, also known as pure science, and applied science. In basic science, scientists working primarily at academic institutions pursue research simply to satisfy the thirst for knowledge. In applied science, scientists at industrial corporations conduct research to achieve some kind of practical or profitable gain.
In practice, the division between basic and applied science is not always clear-cut. This is because discoveries that initially seem to have no practical use often develop one as time goes by. For example, superconductivity, the ability to conduct electricity with no resistance, was little more than a laboratory curiosity when Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered it in 1911.
Today superconducting electromagnets are used in an ever-increasing number of important applications, from diagnostic medical equipment to powerful particle accelerators.
Whatever the aim of their work, scientists use the same underlying steps to organize their research:
(1) they make detailed observations about objects or processes, either as they occur in nature or as they take place during experiments; (2) they collect and analyze the information observed; and (3) they formulate a hypothesis that explains the behavior of the phenomena observed.
During an experiment, scientists typically make measurements and collect results as they work. Scientists use mathematics to analyze the data and help them interpret their results. The types of mathematics used include statistics, which is the analysis of numerical data, and probability, which calculates the likelihood that any particular event will occur. Once an experiment has been carried out and data collected and analyzed, scientists look for whatever pattern their results produce and try to formulate a hypothesis that explains all the facts observed in an experiment. In developing a hypothesis, scientists employ methods of induction to generalize from the experiment’s results to predict future outcomes, and deduction to infer new facts from experimental results. If a hypothesis is borne out by repeated experiments, it becomes a theory—an explanation that seems to consistently fit with the facts. The ability to predict new facts or events is a key test of a scientific theory.
In science, publication follows a formal procedure that has set rules of its own. Scientists describe research in a scientific paper, which explains the methods used, the data collected, and the conclusions that can be drawn. In theory, the paper should be detailed enough to enable any other scientist to repeat the research so that the findings can be independently checked.
Another good summary of Science can be found on the encyclopaedia Wikipedia3:
Science is a verifiable body of data established through experimental investigation, empirical knowledge of phenomena that can be observed or repeated, and a set of techniques for investigating, through research, repeatable events using a systematic procedure known as the scientific method. Natural sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, and astronomy study nature; social sciences such as economics,geography--both physical & cultural. politics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology study human beings and society.The concept of reproducibility is the unsung workhorse of the scientific method: Galileo relied on this concept to develop his law of falling bodies. Without this concept, scientists would be unable to verify the claims of others. Without it, technological products would fail upon second use. Reproducibility is a requirement for a law of nature.
To put it in a nutshell – Science gathers knowledge of the creation, engineering uses the knowledge to accomplish desired ends (which we call technology).
Thus Science is very much to the Christian, a necessary discipline to live in and enjoy God’s world.
*A Christian worldview of Science
- Biblical mandate - Gen 1:28-31 - understanding and using God's world
- This is God’s World4
- God is the cause of the effect we see as all that exist, God’s cause is in Himself, and is the only being who is the creator rather than a part of the creation.
A rejection of this premise puts the burden of proof on the opponent to come to a first cause. There is not Scientific reason to reject causality. Answering the consequential question – who caused God? is not possible – but this option is still more plausible than an eternal uncaused universe that is not conscious producing the complexity of the universe we have now. The Christian model of creation is the best complimentary hypothesis to support the data that has lead to the Big bang theory. God created the world from nothing.
• God created this world and is therefore distinct from it.
An unconscious being does not produce consciousness. A conscious pantheistic model calls for a greater speculation of a consciousness that is apart from the substance that composes it and yet fully a part of that substance.
• God created all that exist and holds them in being. This we call providence.
The Bible rejects a deistic model in assertions (amongst many) like Jesus statement about God’s sustenance of the birds(Matt 6:25-34, 10:29-31) and the lilies and even the rain.
• The laws of nature are our descriptions of our patterns that we have detected, and descriptions have no power whatever to govern; understanding of governance lies outside natural science. Within the Hebrew Christian tradition, God is the governor, the upholder and sustainer of all things. What we really call the laws of nature are our description of the patterns of the way this divine governance manifest itself.5
*Scientism Vs. Superstition
Since Natural Science stops at the empirical6 -man can only know about nature as much as nature would reveal to him, but what about that which is beyond nature? The transcendent, the supernatural, the extra natural? CS Lewis in his brilliant work Mere Christianity makes an outstanding argument for the moral law being universally known to us all, and yet Lewis writes, if there were an outsider (like an Alien in a UFO) observing us, it would be impossible to observe it, since we often act contrary to our conscience and o violence to this law we all know so well. Lewis is able to make this argument because he was informed by information that transcends nature – the Scriptures.
God in the Scriptures gives us knowledge that we could not gain from Science alone – like the teleological (why we are here and where and we going), ontological (who are we) and cause of all the effect we see. This is not to be mistaken with superstition.
4 It should be noted that the culminative case for this is not found in one or two proof text like Genesis 1-3 and John 1, but in the some and substance of the entire Bible that proclaims the world as being created and sustained by God. Many have misunderstood this world as now belonging to Satan due to the widespread evil we see around us and misunderstood scriptures like Luke 4:5-6 (which is not saying that Satan owns the world to give, but that sinful men and kingdoms have submitted themselves to his power by their sin) – Satan is at best, the wicked servant that has hijacked the absent master’s vineyard – he is an ursurper, not an owner. A Christian informed by Science would realize that Satan must have no power to sustain the world, and that a sheer act of grace and an unfathomable wisdom makes God sustain a planet that is almost in majority in rebellion against Him.5 Malcom Jeeves and R. J. Berry – Science, Life and the Christian Belief – A Survey and assessment 6 I refuse here to limit the definition of the word empirical to the use by the positivist rather my use of the word is that it can be tested and proven – this can range from five senses based experimentation of the natural Sciences to complex philosophical and abstract arguments that can conform to proven laws of logic.
*Superstition - explaining the unexplained
Some times, man has used superstition in his ignorance to explain the unexplained. An example of this is the idea of a Dragon swallowing up the moon on a lunar eclipse.
Andrew D White7 in his book the History of warfare between Science & Theology chronicles a long list which includes:
- From Creation to Evolution
- From ‘Antiquated Beliefs’ to Geography
- From ‘Antiquated Beliefs’ to Astronomy (and the Galileo incident)
- From ‘Signs & Wonders’ to Laws in heaven
- From Genesis to Geology
- From ‘Prince of the power of the air’ to Meteorology
- From Magic to Chemistry and Physics
- From Miracles to Medicine
- From Fetich to Hygiene
- From Demonical possession to Insanity
- From Diabolism to Hysteria
- From anti Usury to economics
- From Divine oracles to Higher Criticism
So Bible versus quoted to support a pre existing superstition of a culture, is not a fault of the Bible but superstition.
Superstition is the practice of making metaphysical claims and attributing to supernatural powers, or God / gods that which we cannot explain. Thus, god is used to fill in the gaps.
*Scientism – usurping the domain of religion
So when a person assumes that natural science is able to answer every meaningful question about reality, then that person is making an unjustified nonsensical assertion. This is usually described as Scientism.
Scientism is the assumption that natural science provides the proper element for philosophical enquiry.
Scientism is not science, but an assumption based on a philosophical, religious claim or metaphysical belief. To assert7 Some have asserted and proven (I have not read their full arguments yet) that White’s analysis is faulty and flawed historically. I would have to state here that though I cant confirm this, I would disagree with some of the bullet points above.
Therefore much of the so-called conflict between Science and Religion is in reality a conflict between either:
- Science vs. Superstition
- Scientism vs. Religion
- Scientism vs. Superstition
*Respecting the domains clear – Walking the tightrope
Science is part of the knowledge available through General revelation, the Bible is the only credible source of God’s special revelation.
We must reject the trespassing of Science into the authoritative true-to-hermeneutics claims of Scripture as well as the trespassing of our theology into the empiricism of our Scientific knowledge. But since this is God’s world, Science remains a part of the domains that are necessarily embedded in our God informed worldview of this world – science is our description of God’s workings in creation, no more, no less. Thus Science and Theology are not individual domains, but theology remains the big picture that men choose to accept or not, of his Creator, purpose, origins and destiny – whilst Science remains as his skill and knowledge to live in and use God’s world – even when he has rejected God.
“This is not a conflict between theology and science, but a conflict arising from a misunderstanding of the different roles theology and science play. Science and religion are not enemies, but partners complimenting each other. Religion tells us how to go to heaven; science tells us how the heavens go.
The non-physical realm, on the other hand, is the object of a different sort of inquiry. Science cannot tell us of the ultimate origin of the universe. Since science uses empirical data--that known by the five senses-something must exist first for science to examine. Questions regarding an immaterial "something" that might have produced the material realm can't, even in principle, be answered by science.”8
David Myers writes at the beginning of the most widely used textbook of psychology in North America: ‘Psychology is a science that seeks to answer all sorts of questions about us all: how we think, feel, act.’ But he goes on to warn his student readers:
“If you ignore psychology’s limit and expect it to answer ultimate questions posed by the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy in 1904 – ‘Why should I live? Why should I do anything? Is there in life any purpose which the inevitable death that awaits me does not undo and destroy?’ – you are destined for disappointment. If instead you expect that psychology will help you better understand why people, yourself included, feel, think, and act as they do – or if you enjoy exploring such questions – then you should find the study of psychology both fascinating and applicable to life. (Myers 1986)
Part 2: History of the relationship between Science and Religion
*Physics and Metaphysics
In the first century BC, Andronicus of Rhodes decided to label some untitled books of Aristotle, that were written after his book, ‘Physics’ – ‘Metaphysics’ which simply meant after physics. From then on, this term came to mean the “beyond” the physical. In a quest historians say began with Thales in 580 BC, the Greeks tried to find the one element that is the ultimate quintessential element that makes up all the other elements in the world –is it fire, water, earth or wind?
Thus though the Greeks began the ball rolling in a quest for Scientific knowledge of the world, their speculation and metaphysical speculations would also the a big factor, stifling the progress of Science.
8 Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason – www.str.org
Greek philosophy thought thoroughly sophisticated, was also plagued by superstition – like Phythagoras who made his followers take an oath to not eat beans, as he considered it cannibalism since he felt that the inside of a bean reveals that each one contains a small, embryonic human being.9
*Induction vs. deduction
“It is not the facts that divide men, but the interpretation of the facts” –Aristotle –
In order to make sense of the range and variety of experience which we gain daily, we all employ some form of organizing and storing such experiences.
Deduction is moving from general to the particular:
All men are mortal (premise) Socrates is a man (premise)
Socrates is mortal (conclusion)
The problem with this method is that the universal truths that make up the premises, may not be able to be proven. Thus, the critique will ask, are men which you have not observed also mortal?
Induction is moving from the particular to the general
All observable elements in this wall are stone (premise) The whole wall is stone (conclusion) Thus the way one strings the facts together – can be the making or breaking of a scientific theory being
correct according to reality.
“Reality is the overseer at one’s shoulder, ready to rap one’s knuckles or to spring the trap into which one has been led by over-confidence, or by a too complacent over reliance on mere surmise. Science succeeds because it has accepted a bargain in which even the boldest imaginations stand hostage to reality. Reality is the unrelenting angel with which Scientist have to wrestle.”
- Gross & Levit 1994:234)
“A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements. It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of the future observations.” 10
Science today has been hijacked by naturalism. Naturalism is the commitment to the fact that there is no reality but matter. Philosophical or metaphysical naturalism refers to the view that nature is the “whole show.” There is no supernatural realm and/or intervention in the world.
*David Hume & Miracles
The critique of David Hume on miracles asserts that a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature. It is often claimed that because of the laws of nature a particular miraculous event could not have happened. Critiques like this forced Christianity to come up with a model of God’s involvement in creation – and to define
9 Looking at Philosophy by Donald Palmer, Mayfield publishing. 10 Stephen Hawking – A brief history of time
miracles, for there are 2 miracle necessary to Christianity – the incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and without the validity of these two incidents, there is no Christianity.
An essential point in any model of God’s relation to His creation is that according to the Bible, nothing continues to exist or continues in being apart from God’s moment by moment activity.
Acts 17:23-28 ESV
"'In him we live and move and have our being';
Heb 11:3 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. ESV
So when God (who does not put a premium on) does miracles in the scripture, He does something not in conformity with the laws of nature – that draw attention to the recipient to Him and glorifies Him. This to many as Hume, is proof of the Bible being an unreliable record.
John Polkinghorne11 gives a good answer:
“The history of Science is full of the unprecedented and unexpected. Electrical conduction in metals behaves in an orderly way until suddenly, below a critical temperature, some metals lose their resistance altogether and become superconducting. Changing circumstances (in this case, lowering the temperature) have created a new regime in which physical behavior is different. As the physicist say, a phase change has occurred. The task of the scientist faced with such a phenomenon is to try to find the underlaying regularity which embraces both the old familiar regime and the strange new one revealed to him.”
Thus when Hume referred to ‘violating’ a law of nature, he seems to understand a law of nature as being like a law of parliament.
The laws of nature are descriptive rather than prescriptive,
so when God changes the circumstances of the existing regimes He has established – He may get His desired different results. This is like the description in Exodus 10:13 of God using an East wind, to part the Red Sea.
*Francis Bacon and the Scientific revolution
“We forfeit our dominion over nature by wanting to make her conform to our rationalistic prejudices, instead adapting our conceptions to the data of observation and experiment.” – Francis Bacon –
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) is credited with the overthrow of the “old” deductive method of discovering scientific truth and its replacement with a “new” inductive method. In colorful metaphors Bacon urged modern men to cease being scholastic “spiders” who spin out truth out of their own deductive reason. He advised them rather to become Scientific “bees” who buzz throughout nature in order that they may inductively transform nature’s nectar into the practical products that can benefit mankind.12
11 John Polkinghorne was in 1979 Professor of Mathematics and Physics of Cambridge, who resigned to join the Anglican ministry, wrote his famous apologia for the Christian faith – The way the world is. 12 Introduction to Philosophy by Norman Geiler and Paul Feinbergs, published by baker.
Later many would seek a more realistic combination of induction and deduction. Science was being liberated from superstition – and Scientist were being given the freedom now to describe reality rather than to prescribe it.
*The Galileo Incident -was Christianity to blame?
The Galileo incident is often misused by opponents of Christianity to claim that Christianity was trying to suppress the Scientific truth and revolution of the Copernican theory of a heliocentric universe. This is an exaggerated half truth – yes, the church under Pope Urban VIII did oppose Galileo, but this was not rooted in careful biblical exegesis, but a prior commitment to Ptolemaic Geocentricism that the church had just committed herself to in writing. Thus this was a conflict not between God and Science, but Ptolemaic and Copernican astronomy.
It should be noted that John Calvin (1509-1564), was more open minded toward the new theory because he knew that because Scripture is adapted to our creaturely weakness. He also knew that Scripture often uses observational language. Following Augustine's commentary on Genesis, he argued that, Scripture
"proceeds at the pace of a mother stooping to her child, so to speak, so as not to leave us behind in our weakness" (Institutes 3.21.4). In Scripture, God speaks us as a nursemaid speaks baby-talk to children (Institutes 1.13.1). Even the six-days of creation themselves are an accommodation to our weakness (Commentary on Genesis 1.5)13 .
“Science arose in the west, not when Christian theology was submerged by Greek rationalism, but rather when Greek and other “pagan” ideas of nature were shown to be inadequate in the new climate of Biblical“The Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go” - Galileo would later say to Pope Urban VIII-
13 R. Scott Clark, Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at the Westminster Seminary in California, from his article Geocentrism Anyone?, attached with this handout.
*Aquinas distinction of Science and Religion & Kant's separation of them
Thus we have followed a historical line thus far, where Science was liberated from superstition and became fruitful in producing knowledge that lead the a technological breakthroughs and an age of progress. Thus as the influence of superstition and metaphysics waned off slowly from the new arrogance of the Scientific era
– the questions of who we are and why we are here became less significant. The new questions were slowly turning from the laws of nature from descriptive to prescriptive and slowly, a world ‘figured out’ lead to Deism where God was no longer needed.
Thus Science now liberated from the trespassing of religion, would now return the favor, and trespassing into religion. Science would now be the one to answer metaphysical questions – of origin and purpose. The real tragedy though was when Christianity bowed to this pressure and took a bow and retired from the Scientific enterprise – leaving it to naturalism and secularism.
Some like Francis Schaeffer lay the charge of the beginning of this tragedy at the door of Thomas Aquinas. Other like RC Sproul, say that Aquinas was making a distinction between the knowledge gained from science and from God’s revelation. Aquinas was making a classical synthesis between philosophy and theology in the medieval university where Theology was considered the queen of science and philosophy was her handmaiden.
Immanuel Kant would later (in 1781) create a new synthesis of rationalism and empiricism and destroy the synthesis made by Aquinas. So Aquinas made a distinction between faith and reason – and Kant will separate them.14Immanuel Kant Thomas Aquinas
14 There is much debate on this matter and I don’t pretend to be authoritative in the history of philosophy, so for now, I have decided to rest with RC Sproul’s analysis of this matter – because I found it most convincing with regards to my own research.
*A summary of the models used and a proposal for a right one.Figure 2: The separation approach
Thus in this approach – true Science (not Scientism) is a domain of life necessary in living in God’s universe. But this domain since it is limited to nature and is limited by the sinfulness of mankind must stop at the empirical. So for a man to be informed on the larger issues in life, he must be informed by an external source – this is where God’s special revelation comes into the picture – through the inspiration of the scripture and the incarnation of the Son of God.
Any attempt to ignore Science in it’s domain leads to a superstitious vacuum.
This is why many Christians can hold very superstitious view of a scripture that seemed to be dictated out of heaven and then preserved perfectly in the King James translation – an escapists route out of the painstaking work of the science of textual criticism and the theology of inspiration (like that of the Chicago statement that I hold to).
Also in this model is the very important truth;
that the best of Science cannot fulfil all the needs of mankind.
A science that is not grounded on a good moral framework can lead to the atrocities of the sick Nazi experiments or the type of evil portrayed in the recent movie the Island. Thus the Scientist (or Science fan like me) is but a human being, living in a reality of morals, ethics, purpose, destiny and many other larger issues of life.
Part 3: Application
*Life is wholesome – Science & Metaphysical issues answered and being learnt
The Christian worldview positively encourages involvement in the scientific enterprise; but we must be aware of some world pictures, necessarily temporary, because they can readily lead to the abuse of the Scripture and become a barrier to the development of Science.15
*Hermeneutics and Science – working together and meeting at the top
The Bible should not be interpreted as speaking scientifically. The Bible presents truth, and truth is an essential ingredient in any search for reality. Bust just as Scientist have to interpret all relevant data in seeking to draw a conclusion or test a hypothesis, so the bible truths have to be interpreted and reviewed with hermeneutical tools (that are again descriptive of the literature, not prescriptive) and against other evidences from the world around us.
Augustine said that all truth meets at the top, thus, a correct hermeneutic and scientific enterprise, will meet. The outcome of this process is not – or should not be – an amalgam or compromise, but complementation. This produces a stronger framework of belief.
There has been traditionally three ways that Christians have reacted to Science 16:
- Re-interpretation (Cheapskate apologetics) – reinterpret religious data to fit into the current prevailing Science.
- Humanization (Ignore Science, it’s evil) – to keep the hard science separated from the human science. We don’t really deal with how the world works, but with how man does.
- Perspectivism (Use the right tools for the job) – Those (like me) jealous to maintain the integrity of Science and yet to keep it from crossing over into the metaphysical realm, such as, Scientism and evolutionism.
15 Malcom Jeeves and R. J. Berry – Science, Life and the Christian Belief – A Survey and assessment (Published by Apollos, an imprint of the Inter-Varsity Press)16Stephen Evans
* The Christian and Science:
- Science can enable and empower the Christian to a. stewardship of this world while the Lord of the Vineyard is away b. alleviate the suffering of his fellow man and to improve their living conditions.
- Scientism will lead to man playing God (watch the Island) and thus the Christian involvement in Science will be the necessary barrier for such evil.
- We must have a dynamic conviction but not a dogmatic certainty with regard to Science.
“Science is a true friend of Biblical faith and not as is often asserted, in conflict with it.”
* Case study : Young earth vs old earth
How do we respond given all that we have learned?
Craft Incompetence: This is a sample story to illustrate how the ignoring of Science The Missing Moon Dust17
Another major flaw in Van Till's treatment also contains the book's most redeeming contribution. He properly upbraids the poor science some creationists have been guilty of when seeking to defend their position. Van Till notes four examples of craft incompetence by creationists: the "missing" moon dust, the "shrinking" sun, the "mysterious" sea salt concentrations, and the "lost" geological strata. A closer look at just one of them--the missing moon dust--illustrates his point.
If the solar system is millions of years old, creationists argue, then there should be hundreds of feet of dust on the moon from lunar erosion and in-fall of intergalactic matter. Yet, when the astronauts landed they found only inches of loose dust, implying that millions of years had not elapsed as evolutionists claimed. Even today this observation is touted by many creationists as a major victory for their view. The scientific community is portrayed as still befuddled, staggering under this blow to the evolutionist's sacred belief in an ancient universe. This is a gross misrepresentation of the facts, as Van Till points out.
First, the "missing moon dust" did not catch NASA by surprise; they expected it. Prior to the moon launch there were many divergent estimations of the depth of the dust on the moon's surface. All were based on certain assumptions about rates of erosion from large meteor impact and rates of micrometeor accretion on the moon. Without the aid of direct measurements, these rates were speculative. Differences in estimation varied sometimes by a factor of 1000.
As early as 1959, famed astronomer Fred Whipple noted that deep dust would not be a problem because climatic conditions would cause the particles to adhere together. Landings of Lunar IX and Surveyor I in 1966 confirmed his theory three years before the manned flight. NASA could have made deep-dust design choices for their landing pads, but were convinced that the surface would be firm.
Second, NASA was right. The first Apollo landing site had only a few inches of loose dust, true enough. However, most of the dust on the surface of the moon is not loose powder. Instead, moon dust coheres and packs down over time--the same as dust on earth--forming the more dense lunar soil.
Soil on the moon comes from two sources: micrometeor infall (intergalactic dust), and erosion of the lunar landscape due to collisions with large meteors. Actual measurements of meteorite bombardment on the lunar surface (the first source) demonstrates that the accumulation rate for micrometeor dust would be 500 tons per year or only one centimeter in four billion years. The balance of the material comes from lunar erosion.
17 Science Held Hostage by Van Till, Young, and Menninga
Actual core samples of the moon "dust" layer (called lunar regolith) drilled out by the astronauts ranged from 8 ft. 10 in. to 9 ft. 8 in. deep. Further seismic tests by Apollo- 17 crews showed a range of 20 feet to 120 feet in the area sampled. These details seem to have escaped the notice of many creationists. Ignoring conflicting evidence, or simply being out of touch with the current published material on this subject, is unprofessional and inexcusable. It's not good science.
* My conclusion on the young earth vs. old earth debate18
I have found many of the scientific assertions made by the young earth creationist to be unverifiable scientifically and also asserted in a very arbitrary manner – not able many times to pass the basic test of empiricism. Thus though I think a simple honest isolated hermeneutic of the first three chapters of Genesis would seem to point to a young earth position – yet the sheer volume of Scientific data contrary to this position has to inform my hermeneutic and cause me to conclude that the text is not interested in revealing the scientific specifics of the creation (including a timeline in 24 hour days, but rather the day in the text must be a poetic literary form to say a period of time) but the fact that God made the universe and this planet with it’s ecosystem and man was made in the image of God to govern and rule this planet. This is once again similar to history where the heliocentric and geocentric astronomers clashed – and the church failed to let God’s general revelation inform her hermeneutic of God’s special revelation.
18 Also, I should take this opportunity to address why I am not an evolutionist or Theistic evolutionist. Apart from the theological and hermeneutic evidence I have to make me disprove Theistic evolution as a Christian position – I am convinced that evolution was the hypothesis formulated to accommodate naturalism. Evolution is the means by which we can arrive at the desired ends of naturalism and thus the question then is why do we Christians, committed to a belief in a supernatural God – need evolution? Is the Scientific data to compelling? No, the Scientific data is being used to prescribe this hypothesis – but to an honest observer it does not describe it. I realize that I have to qualify my conclusions – but I would have to leave it at this for now.