Some Definitions

Word Definition

Many articles that we have posted on the “Does God Exist?” websites have revolved around definitions. Let us attempt to clarify some definitions.

EVOLUTION means different things to different people. Evolution essentially means change over time. We can see evidence of that in dogs and cattle and roses. Some would call those changes within plant and animal types as microevolution. There is also evolution of one type of animal into something completely different. That is sometimes called macroevolution, and it is something we don’t see. When someone says “you can’t believe in evolution and believe in God,” there will be different understandings of what that statement means. There are leading evolutionists like Dr. Francis Collins who are also prominent Christian leaders. Theistic evolution is evolution designed or guided by God. Naturalistic evolution is totally different.

NATURALISM asserts that natural laws are the only rules that govern the structure and behavior of the universe and that the universe at every stage of change is a product of those laws. Naturalism leaves out God and offers a purely materialistic cause and understanding of the universe.

MATERIALISM is the belief that physical “stuff” is the only thing that is real. Anything that is not physical in nature is deemed to be of no value in determining answers to the choices of life. Anything that cannot be measured or tested by science does not exist.

SCIENTISM is the belief that science is the only reliable source of truth. Years ago science was defined simply as knowledge. The modern definition of science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Scientism goes beyond science to make science a god.

DEISM is belief in the existence of a supreme being–a creator who started the universe but does not intervene or show any interest in it. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind.

THEISM is belief in the existence of a deity or deities, but not necessarily the God of the Bible.

CHRISTIANITY finds evidence for our faith in God and the creation through Jesus Christ. We maintain that the cosmos is far too complex to be the product of chance, undirected natural laws. We don’t believe that the material is all that exists. We know from experience that science cannot answer every question we ask. We see that the physical world is limited in what it can offer us, and what it cannot offer us is far more important than material things. We view science as a friend and as a tool to learn about and address problems in the physical universe. But we understand it won’t give us answers to the most important questions. “What is the meaning of life?” “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “How should I live?” We really want to find answers to these questions. Science can show us the wisdom, design, and power of the Creator. Science cannot show us God–or show us that God does not exist. Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, came to show us God’s love and give us the answers to those most important questions of life. Science can give us truths, but Jesus is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. (John 14:6)
–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2017