Spurgeon on science

Charles Spurgeon was one of the great preachers of the nineteenth century, and like many leading Evangelicals of that time, he had no problem with the idea of an old Earth.

Today’s Pyromaniac’s blog has an excerpt from Spurgeon’s book The Greatest Fight in the World. In this short section, Spurgeon attacks the scientists who think they have somehow disproved God or the Bible. I think of the “new atheists” here, such as Dawkins. Spurgeon also criticizes Christians who twist science to try to make it fit Scriptures. Here I think of the modern “scientific creationism” movement. In Spurgeon’s mind, both the “irreligious scientist” and the “unscientific Christian” are wrong.

Here are the final two paragraph’s of the Pyromaniacs excerpt from Spurgeon’s writing:

Two sorts of people have wrought great mischief, and yet they are neither of them worth being considered as judges in the matter: they are both of them disqualified. It is essential than an umpire should know both sides of a question, and neither of these is thus instructed. The first is the irreligious scientist. What does he know about religion? What can he know? He is out of court when the question is—Does science agree with religion? Obviously he who would answer this query must know both of the two things in the question.

The second is a better man, but capable of still more mischief. I mean the unscientific Christian, who will trouble his head about reconciling the Bible with science. He had better leave it alone, and not begin his tinkering trade. The mistake made by such men has been that in trying to solve a difficulty, they have either twisted the Bible, or contorted science. The solution has soon been seen to be erroneous, and then we hear the cry that Scripture has been defeated. Not at all; not at all. It is only a vain gloss upon it which has been removed.

As I said, Spurgeon had no problem with the Earth being millions of years old. This is from a sermon by Spurgeon delivered in 1855, which was before the publication of The Origin of Species, but after geologists had established that the Earth must be much older than 6000-10,000 years:

In the 2d verse of the first chapter of Genesis, we read, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” We know not how remote the period of the creation of this globe may be—certainly many millions of years before the time of Adam. Our planet has passed through various stages of existence, and different kinds of creatures have lived on its surface, all of which have been fashioned by God. But before that era came, wherein man should be its principal tenant and monarch, the Creator gave up the world to confusion. He allowed the inward fires to burst up from beneath, and melt all the solid matter, so that all kinds of substances were commingled in one vast mass of disorder.

The Power of the Holy Ghost, June 17, 1855

Grace and Peace

4 thoughts on “Spurgeon on science

  1. Matt Strid

    Thanks Kevin.

    I tend to agree with Spurgeon. One cannot play in anothers ball-park without understanding the ground rules. Few scientists truly evaluate the claims of Christianity without first crying “Religious bigotry!” But few Christians look at the claims of science without first crying “Atheistic humanism!” Thus neither side understands the ground rules of the other’s ball-park.

    Then there are those of us in the middle who really dont have a problem marrying scientific discovery with an understanding of a really big God who is beyond comprehension without personal revelation. But when we offer opinions that may not be orthodox to either side we get lambasted…usually by both sides. Thus we tend to pick the orthodoxy that most closely resembles what we beleive and (in my case, which is somewhat structural due to my position) God gets put in a box that is much too small for Him. But then I guess I dont have the courage of my convictions, which is a shame on me.

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  2. Pingback: Spurgeon distorted « The GeoChristian

  3. I think you’re trying to have it both ways here. Not in regard to Spurgeon, but in regard to the Bible. It says “day” so many times it’s almost comical (“…and there was evening and morning, one day.”, “And there was evening and morning, a second day”). It’s almost as emphatic as the repeated globality of the flood (“Every living thing that lived on the earth perished”, “every living on the face of the earth was wiped out…”). Only man in his staggering intellect could possibly refute such an obvious truth.

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  4. WebMonk

    Deke,
    I think it has been mentioned extensively that using the word “land” is just as valid grammatically as using the word “earth” in the Flood accounts. The decision to use “land” or “earth” is a decision based on the existing view of the globality (to make up a word) of the Flood.

    If one thinks it to be a global flood, then the word “earth” is put in, but the person can’t then turn around and say the existence of the word “earth” supports a global flood. Circular support.

    For Genesis, it is almost comical how someone can view the heavily repetitive and formulaic structure of Genesis 1 and not understand that it is poetry. Only man in his staggering intellect could possibly refute such an obvious truth.

    Using poetry doesn’t make something false, but it does make it extremely suspect when used outside of its genre. Is Psalm 2 untrue? Well sure it is if you take it out of context and subscribe it to a scientific investigation as to whether or not God had put physical chains and fetters on the kings and rulers of the day. However, that poem is true in what it is intended to say.

    Is Genesis true? Absolutely, but it, like most poetry, is not trying to speak to a scientific accuracy, and so if one takes it and subjects it to a strictly scientific investigation, you’re going to run into a LOT of problems, just like one would if one were to take Psalm 2 and try to scientifically verify its statements about chains and fetters. That would be taking the Bible WILDLY out of context.

    Do you take Psalm 2 as a completely precise scientific description of the world? Of course not. Is Psalm 2 true? Of course it is.

    Should you take Genesis 1 as a completely precise scientific description of the Creation? Of course not. Is Genesis 1 true? Of course it is.

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