The story of Gideon’s attempt to determine God’s will by placing a fleece on the ground overnight and observing its moisture content relative to the surrounding ground, given in Judges 6:36-40, provides a framework for the discussion of several issues related to scientific inquiry and its relationship to divine activity and revelation. Issues noted in this paper include proper experimental design and execution, the manner in which God interacts with nature, human expectations of God’s interactions with nature, the roles of general and special revelation in knowing God’s past, present, and future activity, and the contrast between faith based on observation and faith based on revelation. Comparing Gideon’s actions to the scientific method indicates that elements of the scientific method were applied by common people in Old Testament times. Placing Gideon’s experience with the fleece into the broader account of Gideon’s life suggests caution to the biblically-based scientist with respect to reliance on narrowly-drawn standards for determining when God has acted in the natural world and suggests that God may act in ways that could also be explained by natural laws or in ways that appear to contradict natural laws. Gideon’s story also provides a warning regarding the tendency to emphasize faith in human observations over faith in divine revelation. Also noted are parallels between the story of Gideon and other biblical accounts of individuals using observations of the natural world to understand God’s will. In addition, the recognition that Scripture portrays God working with and through Gideon despite his imperfections and the recognition that Scripture portrays Gideon as accomplishing great things by faith are shown to be important aspects of the biblical record of Gideon’s life. These points are essential in applying Gideon’s story to the education and spiritual growth of science students as they learn to exercise faith in God and His Word while properly using scientific reasoning.
Hamstra, Ph.D., Brent
"Gideon’s Fleece: A Biblical Narrative Providing a Framework for Discussion of Issues in the Relationship between Scientific Inquiry and Divine Revelation,"
The Journal of Biblical Foundations of Faith and Learning: Vol. 1
, Article 6.
Available at: http://knowledge.e.southern.edu/jbffl/vol1/iss1/6