In short the answer is Yes. But it is a qualified Yes. So let’s spend some time exploring the question.
First let’s be certain that we are using these terms in the same way. By “informs” I am not saying that theology develops out of science. To do so would mean a capitulation to the efforts of the naturalists and rationalists in their attempt to subvert Christianity. What I do mean is that at times our understanding of the Bible can be enhanced by scientific inquiry.
But how does this work? Are we not abandoning historical-grammatical hermeneutics if we let scientific inquiry, with its atheist component, influence how we do theology?
This opens another point that needs defining. We are not talking about the core component of theology but about the hermeneutics. So when I say that science can inform theology what I really mean is that science can inform hermeneutics.
Here’s an example: Pi in the OT. 1 Kings 7:23 says that the radius times 3 equals the circumference. Now, if we were working only with whole numbers that might be the case. But we know that it’s just not precisely true. Pi is 3.14 – a 5% difference. That’s a significant error.
We also know that people speak in round numbers. We round things all the time. And we insert that meaning into the text. Why do we do that? Because we know that it is not precise. Thus we allow mathematics to inform our hermeneutics. Mathematics provides us with the tools necessary for a proper interpretation.
Another explanation of that culture era is the common rejection of irrational numbers. They may have rounded the numbers not out of convenience but out of mathematical necessity.
In either situation the result is the same: 3.14… does not equal 3. And in every sense it is reasonable to conclude that the number was not made out of a desire for inaccuracy but out of the precision that they knew, a precision which does not fit the development of today’s mathematical systems. So, while it is technically incorrect today it was either socially correct (which again, we often do today) or suited to the mathematics of the day, thus also correct. We might say “correct enough” given the situation.
Now, can other avenues of science inform theology? Perhaps so. Archaeology certainly has. So has cultural anthropology. And logic, of course, is a great help when working through Paul’s logic in Romans.
The real sticking point is whether evolutionary biology can assist in our hermeneutics, especially when it comes to Genesis 1:2.
There are some things we know. First, that there had to have been a creation. Nothing just exists. Second, that there is some biological evolution going on. Note the camelids and equines. Things do develop. I would surmise it this way: Evolution does occur within the created order. By saying this I reject theisitic evolution and those variants of “old earth” that functionally reject any special creation.
But though I say “evolution” I do not mean Darwinism or its children. Darwin’s empty materialism has proven inadequate at many points (Nagel 2012, Fodor 2010). Neo-Darwinism and the Third Wave fare no better then their parent. They suffer the same emptiness.
So where does that leave us? My position right now is one of patience. Too often people have rejected Truth because of the “discovery of the moment” and so abandoned ship. What I look for are two things. The first is a new biological model which provides something more than a political attempt to unseat theology but instead seeks precision. Darwinism serves the skeptics of Rationalism and so operates within a narrative. A new model should seek some better narrative.
The second is that our hermeneutic would cooperate with such a model for a more precise understanding of Genesis 1 & 2. In this way no theology is sacrificed and no science is set aside. Until that day comes we will continue to be in conflict since that was the intent of the skeptics all along.