One of the hallmarks of Reasons to Believe is our testable creation model approach to integrating science and the Christian faith. We realize, however, that the term “creation model” can be confusing. So please allow us to clarify a few important points. People without a background in science frequently wonder whether we have put together a physical model of creation, something along the lines of a model airplane, an object that can be seen and studied. But this is not the case.
Some scientists use the term model in a mathematical sense, to refer to a set of equations, for example. Other times they use the word to refer to a series of empirical observations (such as a sequence of chemistry experiments) or physical processes (such as the formation of the Grand Canyon). Simply put, a scientific model is a conceptual framework that offers a simplified view of a large, complex reality. Models help researchers organize vast amounts of information into a conceptual structure so as to better understand and interpret the data, ask good questions, and identify anomalies. Famous scientific models include Einstein’s theory of relativity and the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution.
In science, the term “model” refers to the schematic description of a system (or set of phenomena) that accounts for its observed and inferred features as well as its origin and history. A model is much more than a mere idea, inference, method, hypothesis, or rudimentary theory. It’s a scenario that offers reasonable explanations for the entire scope (origin to ending) of a particular system, as well as for its relationship to other natural phenomena.
Using a model approach supplies researchers with enough detail to assist in further study. It offers explanations for how, when, where, and why the phenomena (or system) occurs. It anticipates, or “predicts,” discoveries that could either verify or falsify the model’s explanation(s). The best models also yield specific suggestions for how near-future research may help improve understanding of the systems or phenomena they attempt to explain.
Reasons to Believe uses the term model in reference to our effort to summarize physical (observational) and biblical data relevant to creation into a coherent explanatory framework. The following foundational beliefs help shape how we interpret the data.
- The Bible (including Genesis 1–11) is the error-free word of God.
- The creation account of Genesis 1 follows a basic chronology.
- The record of nature is also a reliable revelation from God.
- The message of nature will agree with what the Bible says.
- The Bible contains a selective summary description of God’s creation activity (e.g., no mention of dinosaurs, bipedal primates, quantum mechanics, or the existence of other solar system planets).
- God gives humans the privilege to fill in the details, carefully, through patient, ongoing exploration and increased understanding of the natural realm.
We build our model by collating all that the Bible says about God’s creative work and integrating the individual accounts into a coherent picture. We then present this interpretation in the form of a scientific model, one that anticipates, or “predicts,” future findings. We can then evaluate its accuracy in light of scientific advances.
We believe God’s two revelations (Scripture and nature) will agree when properly interpreted. When apparent contradictions arise, we reexamine the data—both biblical and scientific—recognizing that our understanding is incomplete. Sometimes the scientific data seems an unclear or awkward fit with the biblical data. But we see such instances as an opportunity to study both of God’s revelations more deeply.
To learn more about RTB’s general position on the relationship between science and faith, visit our FAQs page. To get started exploring our perspective on specific science-faith topics (such as the age of the earth and historicity of Adam and Eve), visit RTB 101.