The Big Questions
Historians recognize that humans are constantly interested in the “perennial questions,” all of which have to do with man’s purpose on Earth and also his destiny. No questions loom larger than those having to do with (1) the existence of God, (2) the inspiration of the Scriptures, and (3) the Divine nature of Christ. These are indeed the big questions.
But, who is in the best position to determine how these questions are to be answered? Clearly not a Christian using only the Bible, since the truthfulness of Christianity depends upon the real existence of God, the actual inspiration of the Bible, and the Christ being the true Son of God! In other words, the three big questions need to be analyzed and tested for their truth value. They cannot merely be assumed to be true without proof.
Some think that we must turn to science for the answers. The Bible actually uses the word science once in the King James Version (1 Timothy 6:20). But, the word is used at least 29 times in the original and is, in reality, best translated as knowledge. This is the way it is rendered in most other translations. Science, from the Latin scientia (meaning “to know”) in its broadest sense refers to however humans come to know things. So, philosophy and theology would be called “sciences” in this sense. However, most understand the word today to refer to the Natural Sciences which rely upon the scientific method (repeated observations, which are tested under laboratory conditions, resulting in hypotheses, theories, and laws). Consequently, science as such is in no position to answer the big questions. One prominent biologist (Richard Lewontin) said that modern scientists accept an evolutionary perspective (an anti-theistic bias), not because the evidence is so compelling and convincing, but because “we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.” In other words, modern scientists rule out supernatural explanations such as those required in order to answer the big questions. Discovered facts need to be interpreted, and that is often the province of philosophers and theologians who seek to properly handle the evidence so as to arrive at truthful conclusions. Scientists who discuss the big questions have left the realm of science in order to function as philosophers and/or theologians. The big questions cannot be answered by use of the scientific method.
For instance, Scripture says that “every house is built by someone, but the maker of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4, NASB). A house requires only a natural explanation. One does not need to appeal to God to explain the construction of a house. However, the existence of the house itself requires a builder, even if we never observe one or know who did it. The author of Hebrews argues that, in a similar way, the existence of the universe and things in it (the “building”) requires an explanatory cause (a “Builder”). All things that exist are either (1) self-caused, (2) uncaused, or (3) caused by another. A self-caused cause is impossible, for the house would have to exist before it brought itself into existence! The house is definitely not uncaused. That is the point of the passage. The differences are found when one asks for the origin of the universe. Unlike the human builder of a building we can examine, the universe does not contain within itself a sufficient explanation of how it happens to exist at all. The only explanation that ultimately makes sense is that the universe (the “building”) was caused by an Uncaused First Cause (the “Builder”) which we recognize as God (see Genesis 1:1).