Dietrich Bonhoeffer says Yes to Christianity and Modern Science

(system) #1
The most famous Christian martyr of World War II didn’t think science and Scripture should be at war.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Is there anyone that really things that Scripture and science should be at war?

(Brad Kramer) #3

Every atheist, for starters.

(Brad Kramer) #4

Thanks to @postbarthian (Wyatt) for writing this great piece. Questions and comments can be directed to him.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #5

@postbarthian Thank you for the service you have done in gathering all of this in one place and presenting it here. This is a great sort of post: It leverages people’s already-established circles of trust to help them expand their notion of orthodoxy and start to shed anti-science phobias. More of this, please!

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #6

Well… not every atheist. I know some that would cry foul at your comment here. But I agree, the anti-theist Dawkins crowd absolutely believes Scripture and science should be at war.


I’m not sure the anti-theist crowd would be convinced by Bonhoeffer… :grinning:

(Wyatt Houtz) #8

There’s two fronts to the war, the protest atheists who are against Christianity, and fundamentalist Christians who are against science such as Young Earth Creationists. There as a great biologos post a while back that suggests that the war isn’t against science in general, but only select fields of science (most notably Evolutionary Science) that I recommend: Both of these camps wish to align science with atheism, where the protest atheists wish to embrace science and the fundamentalists wish to deny science and replace it with a christian science. This is an over generalization, and there may not be anyone that clearly identifies in either camp, but it does represent opposing fronts. (I’m trying to use war vernacular!)

(Wyatt Houtz) #9

Thank you! I spent several weeks writing it. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

(Wyatt Houtz) #10

Thanks Brad!

(Steve Wallstrom) #11

Great article! Very informative and good content for discussion. Having formally studied biology for my undergrad degree and having wrestled with this topic over the years myself (how science and faith work together) this article provides good insight into the mind of yet another great theologian who appears to have no qualms with aligning ones faith with the natural sciences. Well done Wyatt!

(Wyatt Houtz) #12

Thanks brother!



Is there anyone that really things that Scripture and science should be at war?

Hi Brad. I don’t follow the reasoning. Science tells us nothing definitive about the existence of God. It’s perfectly possible to have an interpretation of scripture that cannot be disproved by science. Therefore the conflict needn’t be Scripture vs. science. It could be Scripture vs. another competing philosophy or metaphysical axiom.

Granted, there are atheists and theists who love arguing whether science proves or disproves scriptural propositions but that’s balderdash at the core. I think that makes an idolatry of science.

(Marvin Adams) #14

I thought that was exactly Brad’s point as that is what they do. They do however completely fail on is as science is based on the theological philosophy of ultimate causality and that the ultimate causality has bound reality to the logos, e.g. put the material reality under the immaterial law.


Hi Marvin.
I don’t quite follow what you mean. Every system is ultimately based on some axioms that cannot be proven but must be assumed. Causality is currently an axiom that science and most ‘working philosophies’ assume, at least for phenomena in this universe. I don’t think anyone understands what happens to that axiom for applications outside of time.

Science is a provisional enterprise which most likely will be unable to resolve ultimate questions about root existence. Not all atheists subscribe the view that science is the be all and end all of perfect knowledge. I think it’s possible to propose a number of orthogonal metaphysical systems that are fully compatible with observations in this world. This is why, for example, that Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics and Christians of various types can all work together in science and why scientific discoveries are seen as valid by all participants. Todd Wood believes in special creation and biblical ‘kinds’. He is a scientist and understands much of the literature in his field. Insofar as he operates within the a-theistic (non theistic) framework of science, any scientist of any religious belief can trade ideas and evaluate models with him.

(Marvin Adams) #16

every worldview is indeed based on fundamental beliefs nicely illustrated in Sarah Cliftons video

but then the new atheism is a worldview like non-stamp collecting is a hobby

(Mervin Bitikofer) #17

“nonstamp collecting” would indeed be a hobby or worldview if it was taken far beyond the level of mere nonparticipation with much ink spilled opposing it as delusional, stupid, and dangerous. So yes, in the hands of the new atheists, materialism is quite the worldview and in fact is indistinguishable from being just another religion despite all their protestations. (And in fact, such protestation is a healthy sign of the fully religious nature of the adherent’s belief system.)


Hi Marvin,
Yes. I generally agree with the video. It’s simplistic but close enough. What is not addressed with whether different worldviews can overlap in areas like the sciences – The answer is yes.

I entered this discussion about how the term ‘atheists’ was used, not ‘new atheists’. Brad wrote, “Every atheist”. New atheists are a subset of atheists. The former do not encompass all of the latter. At no point have I ever disagreed that some atheists believe Scripture is incompatible with science. Others don’t maintain that position. Take, for example, Michael Ruse. To say ‘every atheist believes Scripture and science to be at war’ is incorrect. It is a faulty generalization, like saying ‘every Christian believes the Earth is young’.

This is a “mote-eye-beam” thing with me. There are enough stereotypes. Biologos should work to break these down, not promulgate them.


Michael Ruse is actually an agnostic. But you are correct in pointing out that not every atheist believes Scripture and science are at war. For example, Denis Lamoureux considers Eugenie Scott to be a “reasonable atheist.” Like believers, atheists come in all flavors. We do need to avoid stereotypes!

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #20



There is another aspect of the question of science and theology and this is the question of relational theology.

I have always suspected that Bonhoeffer was a relational theologian, but was unable to pin this down.

What do you think?