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Friday, October 28, 2011

The Science vs. Religion Myth

The word “science” is derived from the Latin word “scientia,” meaning “knowledge.” All knowledge is derived from certain governing presuppositions. In other words, as I have noted before, each side of every issue that human beings debate ultimately has certain un-provable assumptions upon which they must eventually rely. As the late philosopher, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, put it, “At the most fundamental level of everyone's thinking and beliefs there are primary convictions about reality, man, the world, knowledge, truth, behavior, and such things. Convictions about which all other experience is organized, interpreted, and applied.”

Likewise, theologian, author, and pastor, R.C. Sproul, recently discussed the “lasting impression” that the book, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, which he read over 50 years ago, had made upon him. He noted that the book was so influential to him because it “clearly set forth the importance of understanding that all scientific theories presuppose certain philosophical premises.”

The concept of “primary convictions” or presupposed “philosophical premises” is important when it comes to the nonsense that is religion vs. science. The idea that there is some battle between science and religion—especially Christianity—simply won’t go away. Writing in the UK’s Guardian, Julian Baggini recently declared that any religion “that seeks to explain the hows of the universe…is competing with science. In such contests science always wins, hands down, and the only way out is to claim a priority for faith over evidence, or the Bible over the lab.”

Speaking of the “hows of the universe,” some of the most famous and influential founders of what is considered “modern science”—Galileo, Kepler, and Newton—operated from a strict biblical worldview. For example, in 1595, in Kepler’s first major work, he thought that he had discovered “God’s geometrical plan for the universe.” As a Christian, Kepler believed that the universe was designed by a Creator and thus should function in a very logical fashion. He went as far as to define his view of “science” as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”

Though he made many mistakes, Kepler, led by his faith, was determined to make sense of the motion of the planets in our solar system. The first two of Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion were published in 1609. The third and final law was published in 1619 in his book, “The Harmony of the World.” In this work, Kepler noted “that the geometrical things have provided the Creator with the model for decorating the whole world.” He also praised God, declaring “Great is God our Lord, great is His power and there is no end to His wisdom.”

Kepler had a rather strained relationship with Galileo, but they shared a belief in the Copernican model (planets rotate around the sun, and so on) of the universe. This, of course, is what placed Galileo at odds with the Catholic Church and is what many—especially those who worship at the alter of science—point to for evidence of the backwardness of those who operate from a biblical worldview.

However, just as Kepler, Galileo was a Christian who believed in the trustworthiness of the Bible. As Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher puts it, “[Galileo] was fighting against the contemporary principles of Bible interpretation which, blinded by Aristotelian philosophy, did not do justice to the biblical text.”

Isaac Newton is considered by many to be the greatest scientist who ever lived. He is most famous for his laws of motion and universal gravitation. On gravitation he noted that, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”

When it comes to the age of the earth—a favorite topic of the science worshippers—both Kepler and Newton calculated the earth to be only a few thousand years old. Kepler calculated a creation date of 3,992 B.C. Newton stated that, “For an educated man…any suggestion that the human past extended back further than 6,000 years was a vain and foolish speculation.”

Now, before anyone accuses me of the fallacy of appealing to authorities, let me say that my views on Creation and the Bible are not correct simply because they are in common with Kepler, Galileo, Newton, et al. That is not the issue here. The point is that anyone can practice good science while operating from a biblical worldview and that everyone who does any kind of science operates from some worldview.

In other words, there is no battle between science and religion. The only competition that exists when it comes to our pursuit of knowledge and truth lies in our worldviews.

Copyright 2011, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, October 13, 2011

TEA Party vs. Occupy Wall Street

There are several ways that a person can tell with which of the current popular political movements—the TEA Party or Occupy Wall Street—one most identifies. As a public service, I’ve compiled a set of identifying characteristics to aid you in your discernment.

If you cannot afford to camp out for days or even weeks on end at a rally because: a.) you have a job that requires your presence; b.) you are busy looking for a job; or c.) you are a student who actually attends your classes, you probably support the TEA Party. If you like to defecate on police cars, or paint your nude body in 1960s style psychedelic colors and designs, you probably support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

If you know why you are attending a rally and can reasonably articulate the reason(s), you are probably at a TEA Party rally. If you are (if you are) at a rally (at a rally) where they mindlessly repeat (where they mindlessly repeat) everything spoken (everything spoken) like a moron (like a moron) at a cult gathering (at a cult gathering), you are at the Occupy Atlanta rally. Yes we can! (Yes we can!)

If someone approaches you and hands you a pocket-sized U.S. Constitution or an American flag, you are at a TEA Party event. If someone approaches you offering free condoms or a joint (probably not free), you are at an Occupy event.

If you have bathed in a real bathroom within the last week and if, after your rally, you clean up after yourself, you’re probably a TEA Party supporter. If your protest site “smells like a sewer” (as Britain’s Daily Mail reported), you’re at the Occupy New York protest.

If your protest includes singing the national anthem, reciting the pledge of allegiance and/or the Lord’s Prayer, or Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” being loudly broadcast, you are attending a TEA Party event. If your gathering includes several Hollywood leftists, bussed-in union members, and recruited homeless in order to “swell the ranks” (as reported by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank), you are at an Occupy rally.

If you and your fellow protestors recognize and celebrate the heroic acts of American soldiers, you are at a TEA Party event. If your camp is infiltrated by party goers celebrating acts of sex and drug abuse (as the Daily Mail reported), you are at an Occupy event.

It is rather refreshing, if not also a bit shocking, to see such liberal values so prominently displayed. It paints a rather clear picture for any American who is in doubt about which movement is more in line with his or her values. What a dilemma for the democrats! On the one hand, they must pay homage and attempt to sympathize with the Occupy loons, who are a significant part of their base, but on the other hand, democrats know (surely they know) that a significant majority of U.S. voters rejects the “values” (forget the ideas, because there really aren’t any) that are flaunted at the Occupy protests.

What’s more, many of the Occupy protestors are hardly what one could consider oppressed or down-trodden. Several were photographed wearing designer clothes and sporting the latest electronic gadgets. Also, as one paper reported, “youngsters…have joined the movement, many of whom study at colleges which cost their parents up to $200,000.”

Another bit of irony that seems to be lost on most of the Occupiers is that Barack Obama received about twice as much in campaign contributions from Wall Street in the 2008 presidential campaign as did John McCain.

However, the most ironic, and moronic, thing about the Occupy movement is that the vast majority of those involved seek to place more power in the hands of those who were most instrumental in our economic collapse: the federal government. As Herman Cain pointed out, “You can demonstrate all you want on Wall Street. The problem is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!”

Copyright 2011, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com