In the Spring of 1949, Charles Prince was studying as a chemistry major at what later became Rice University, taking double-minors classes in biology and physics. He continued his schooling at Abilene Christian University and Harvard Divinity School. For several decades, he was plagued by internal struggles over what appeared to be irreconcilable truths of science and faith. Over the years, he came to see the fight, not as between science and faith at all, but rather between “some scientists” and “some preachers.” Now he has written a book for intelligent lay-persons in both fields, hoping the solutions he found for his own struggles can help them with theirs as well.
His work is titled The Eighth Day: Why Christianity and Science Need to Dialog to Make Sense of the Creation (Xulon Press, 198 pages, 2009). After his studies uncovered that modern evangelicalism and modern science shared common intellectual roots, Prince began to see the traditional hostility between them as unnecessary and unnatural. Honest, humble discussion, he concluded, would reap far greater benefits. Both sides have contributed to the impasse as Prince sees it — talking down on each other (“prideful smugness”), talking past each other (different frames of reference and different vocabularies) and simply failing to talk at all.
But Prince does not simply protest. He interprets the meaning of Genesis 1-2 in some detail, highlighting its personal, relational and moral elements. This is a task which science is not equipped to do. By definition it is limited to studying the observable world, and what is cannot determine what should be. In another chapter Prince presents what he calls “an outline of the present scientific view of the origin, history and destiny of the universe.” The following chapter continues with “a proposal for a biblical-christian worldview of the origin, history and destiny of the universe.”
This book contains some interesting surprises. For 19 centuries after Christ, writes Prince, most believers did not read early Genesis literally — including Clement, Augustine and John Calvin. Prince borrows from C.S. Lewis in describing early Genesis as “true myth.” He emphasizes the word “true,” for this “myth” is not fiction. It is rather a poem or story that “expresses spiritual truths that could not be expressed any other way and be true or intelligible.” Prince insists that the Genesis stories are “a true depiction of an actual event.” But meaningful communication requires shared common experience, so this event must be told in story or poem since neither the writer or the readers of Genesis was there.