On a Chasm

Bill Nye (The Science Guy) is not only a media personality – he is also an advocate of good science education. Interestingly, Bill Nye will be coming to the Cincinnati area for an event at the Creation Museum. The president of the organization that runs the museum (Answers in Genesis) invited Bill to debate him about evolution. No – I don’t plan to attend the event.

Because the interchange between science and religion continues to stimulate my neurological pathways, I’ve been thinking about the opposite ends of the spectrum – the places where one end has nothing to do with the other. Consider these quotes.

From Ken Ham, President of Answers in Genesis

Certainly, we should celebrate when a person understands the gospel and is saved. But we should also pray for those fellow believers who have not only left biblical authority behind when it comes to origins, but who also have influence and are using it to spread evolution and millions of years in the church. I believe such people are leading many away from the Christian faith, including this current generation of young people—something they will have to answer to God for one day. Yes, God will judge—and He will have the last word!

From Sam Harris, cofounder and CEO of Project Reason

I am hopeful that the necessary transformation in our thinking will come about as our scientific understanding of ourselves matures. When we find reliable ways to make human beings more loving, less fearful, and genuinely enraptured by the fact of our appearance in the cosmos, we will have no need for divisive religious myths. Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu be broadly recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.

Although neither Ken Ham nor Sam Harris speaks for the majority of humanity, these two individuals are important spokespersons for many. Interestingly, both are so set in their opposition to others who believe differently.

Let’s move on to Dr. Francis Collins, a highly respected scientist who happens to be the Director of National Institute of Health, and the former director of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Collins stated the following:

I would not want to look forward to a culture where science lost and religious faith became the dominating force for truth. I would not want to live in a culture where faith lost and science, with all of its reductionism and its materialism became the sole source of truth. I think we need both kinds of truth. I think we need both kinds of worldviews to the extent that scientists can help with that realization of a dual ways of finding answers to the appropriate kinds of questions that each worldview can ask, then I think that would be a good thing.

Lord Acton (1834-1902) stated, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Does this apply to any to Ken Ham, Sam Harris, or Francis Collins?

On Science from Theologians

When it comes to the interface between science and theology, I find it interesting to examine what theologians have to say about science. Especially at a time when so many people feel or are told that they must make a choice between these two disciplines. Enjoy the quotes and the video at the end.

God must be first known from nature and afterwards, recognized from doctrine; from nature by his works and from doctrine by his revealed words. (Tertullian, an early Christian writer from Carthage)

Man is the helper and interpreter of nature. He can only act and understand in so far as by working upon her or observing her he has come to perceive her order. Beyond this, he has neither knowledge nor power. For there is no strength that can break the causal chain: Nature cannot be conquered but by obeying her. Accordingly those twin goals, human science and human power, come in the end to one. To be ignorant of causes is to be frustrated in action. (Sir Francis Bacon)

We see, indeed, the world with our eyes, we tread the earth with our feet, we touch innumerable kinds of God’s works with our hands, we inhale a sweet and pleasant fragrance from herbs and flowers, we enjoy boundless benefits; but in those very things of which we attain some knowledge, there dwells such an immensity of divine power, goodness, and wisdom, as absorbs all our senses. Therefore, let men be satisfied if they obtain only a moderate taste of them, suited to their capacity.  (John Calvin)

Science is the study of the material, processes, and forces of the natural world. Science is not a belief; it is about how things work. One cannot “believe” in science or “believe” in evolution. Science is about the exploration of natural causes to explain natural phenomena. Science is empirical, which means it establishes questions of truth through experimenting and testing. There are no absolutes in science; all issues are open to retesting and reconsideration. (National Council of Churches Committee on Public Education and Literacy, 2006)

The scientific habit of mind of careful sifting of data and withholding judgment until all the facts are in, of reasoning precisely from cause to effect, constitute a bulwark against making any people or person a scapegoat. (Rabbi George Driesen, 2000)

Describes science as a “shining light into the darkness of ignorance, illuminating the world or nature …As the size and complexity of our wondrous cosmos grows, so also does our appreciation of the god who created and sustains it.” (Professor of Theology Ted Peters, 2009)