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Friday, May 19, 2006

In Science We Trust

There is an interesting article at Fox News that Children Trust Science More Than They Do Religion. The article seems a bit conflicted because, on the one hand, they claim that “scientific studies supports the idea that children do not take all the teachings of parents and teachers at face value.” On the other hand they cite a quote from the article that:

"Children are quite dependent on adults for information," he said. "Whether with respect to science or religion, children are rarely in a position to evaluate the claims for themselves."

I think I would lean more towards the view that children pick up the vast majority of their beliefs via their parents or other trusted adults. Of course, this does not mean simply what their parents tell them to believe, I think much more is based on subconscious inference based on a child's observation. But this is psychology that is beyond me! The interesting point this article makes is that children somehow pick up on the idea that science is more trustworthy than religion. The article speculates, and I would agree, that children probably trust science because as adults we tend to take it as "gospel." In other words, if it is science we don't trust it. On the other hand, God is a belief we teach our children. In other words, it's debatable and hence something we must pound into their little skulls full of mush.

But what has brought us to this point? Is it fair to say that our society has places more faith in science than in God? Probably. In that case, perhaps Science has become the contemporary equivalent of the idols in the Old Testament. While God is debatable and up for grabs, science is the thing we can count on.

And where is the failure here? It is easy to blame the lack of apologetic education of believers. It is, of course, true that most Christians have no idea how to defend their faith against those willy university professors with little better to do than stir up trivial arguments against Christianity. So, I would heartily agree that the church has failed in this respect, that is, in the education of Christians in the various intellectual arguments for the faith. Very true.

But I see another huge failure here as well. It seems far to easy for the above mentioned Willy Professors and others to debunk belief in God by going straight at the Bible. One of the reasons it is easy to debunk the Bible has nothing to do with the Bible, in my opinion. Rather, it has everything to do with what many Christians have made the Bible into. We have created a sort of "Bible God" where the Bible itself becomes God. Some call this bibliolotry because, rather than worship the God of the Bible we worship the Bible itself. We turn the Bible into this an enormous answer key with all the scientific and historical knowledge we could ever need. The Answers in Genesis crowd might be a prime example of this fallacious treatment of the Scriptures. The text of Genesis becomes the answer key for all scientific inquiry. After all, if the Bible is "wrong" about science, then we can't trust it about anything, right?

But all of this goes to a very critical mistake in how we view the Bible. Is the Bible our own handy, dandy Answer Key? Sounds magical, doesn't it? And if the Bible is an Answer Key then it would be the Ultimate Answer Key because God himself wrote it. But there is a simple question here: Was this really the intent of Scripture? Did God inspire the Scriptures so that we could possess the Ultimate Answer Key? Or was he trying to keep a record of His great works? Or was He trying to draw all men to Himself??? Could it be that God inspired His Word by His Holy Breath through the "primitive" ancient peoples? For some this is an insult. They want a Modern and scientific Bible. A Bible that gives us Answers. But maybe God breathed truth into the text by using the worldview of the ancient peoples? Maybe we have been trying to use the Holy Scripture rather than listen?

Perhaps the church needs to recover an understanding of the text as it was given and received, rather than using it to further scientific or political ends.

Back, then, to our topic: The god that Science has become to our culture. I lament the loss of the belief in God - I mean, the raw doctrine "God exists." The simple, logical proposition. But much more than this I deeply mourn the loss of wonder. We have conditioned ourselves to tune in to the things that our senses can perceive and we have lost the capacity to extend our souls beyond our world and truly experience the Divine. After all, we trust science. Our lives are content and we have overflow of money and possessions. We can control the visible things in our lives. After all, in science we trust. And yet our souls become sick from spiritual deprivation. And so we fill our hearts with strange and exotic religious experiences that we may find in mystical meditation or in other so-called spiritual practices. We patch up our spiritual wounds with a band-aid of religious works and think that all is well. But all is not well. Not without a genuine knowledge of God. Not without the person of Jesus Christ.

I lament the loss of the belief in God. But I deeply mourn the loss of real wonder that comes when our minds are not confused by religion and philosophy that is disguised as science that tells us that "I believe in God" is a risky thing to believe: Better to order your life around the things that are sure and real - only the physical world can really be explained by science. It is difficult to really wonder and stand in awe of God when the only thing I can really count on is science. Can we really learn to truly wonder and reflect on God when we are told that belief in God is not something we can take for granted?