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Friday, December 22, 2006

There's Nothing Magical About Science (Or: Joan King's Science Fiction)

At the beginning of the movie “Van Helsing” Dracula exclaims to Dr. Frankenstein that his monster, just brought to life, is a “victory of science over God.” I suppose Joan King would agree. It’s a bit silly to refer to fantasy when writing of such serious matters as faith and science, but Ms. King seemed to spend most of her 12/5 article confusing fact with fantasy. One good turn deserves another. I think Ms. King has watched too much “Star Wars.” (She certainly seems to be a fan of “science fiction.”) She writes of science as if it were “The Force,” some magical power that needs only to be understood and properly used and all of our problems will be solved.

Then again, maybe Ms. King sees “science” as some sort of superhero; one who is destined to defeat its arch enemy “religious fundamentalist,” all the while providing us with everything needed for our modern lives.

Answers In Genesis (AIG) (www.answersingenesis.org) notes that, “Many historians (of different religious persuasions—including atheistic) have shown that modern science started to flourish only in largely Christian Europe. These historians point out that the basis of modern science depends on the assumption that the universe was made by a rational Creator. An orderly universe makes perfect sense only if it were made by an orderly Creator.” Many “fathers of modern science” were what Ms. King would consider “fundamentalist Christians.” They took a quite literal view of the Bible. From Pascal to Newton to Faraday to Pasteur to Carver, history is littered with committed Christians whose work has given us many of the advances we enjoy today.

To see “science” and “religion” pitted against one another in some epic battle is just plain silly. When I speak out against something such as embryonic stem cell research, it is not because I wish to halt the march of science. It is because I believe that “progress” can never come at the expense of truth. (In the case of embryonic stem cells, the truth is that life begins at conception.)

Ms. King’s references to evolution are the same tired old weak arguments that have been proven false many times over, but here I go again. Darwinian evolution (defined as the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source, which itself came from an inorganic form) is no more “the foundation of modern biology and modern medicine” than it is the foundation of rocket science and astronomy.

Operating from a biblical worldview (rejecting Darwin’s theory), Louis Pasteur did amazing work in a variety of scientific areas. Pasteur, a microbiologist and chemist, who, along with giving us the process of pasteurization, disproved the theory of spontaneous generation (which put him at odds with Darwin and his work) and was a pioneer in the battle against infectious diseases (leading us to the process of vaccination). Ann Lamont of AIG notes that, “Pasteur was a strong opponent of Darwin’s theory.” As I have pointed out before, (giving specific examples) a person today can totally reject Darwinian evolution and operate well in any scientific arena.

It is incredibly insulting and ignorant that Ms. King would associate fundamentalist Christians with radical, murderous, holocaust denying, Islamic fascists. It is true that Christians believe that heaven awaits us when we die, but not by doing “God’s bidding” will we be saved. Christians believe that salvation comes only through faith in Christ.

It’s interesting that Ms. King would refer to the recent book The God Delusion by noted atheist and evolutionist, Dr. Richard Dawkins. In chapter 7 of his book he mocks and criticizes the account in the book of Genesis of The Flood. However, he correctly points out that many theologians today, in an attempt to compromise the biblical record with evolution, “don’t take the book of Genesis literally anymore.” He continues, “that is my whole point! We pick and choose which bits of scripture to believe, which bits to write off as symbols or allegories.” In other words, if you can’t trust the Bible on one topic, why should you trust it on any topic? Here we have a committed atheist correctly pointing out the hypocrisy of those who would hold up the Bible as the authority in one area but completely write it off in other areas. Neither Ms. King’s, nor anyone else’s, faith can rest on that. Either the Bible is what it claims to be, or we have nothing.

Copyright 2015, 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

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Sad State of Marriage

“The best single indicator for how well marriage is faring in American society is: What proportion of American children are being born to and raised by their own married mom and dad in a reasonably harmonious union.” This quote is from a recent document called, Marriage and the Law: A Statement of Principles published by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and signed by over 100 family and legal scholars. Given that the statement is fairly accurate, what a mess Americans are making of marriage.

As a defender of traditional (biblical) marriage, my heart aches for the number of men and women who are now ending their marriages, and for the number of children born out of wedlock. Recent government reports show that both events are occurring at the alarming rate of nearly 4 out of 10. Given all the current attacks on traditional (biblical) marriage, these statistics are not so surprising.

Too many Americans are failing to understand the significance of the union between a man and a woman, and our society, especially children, is paying a heavy price. This lack of understanding of marriage should come as no surprise either. Everything from the entertainment industry, to academia, to the church has, to a great extent, failed in teaching what marriage is really about.

From the Murphy Brown sitcom of the early nineties to the sitcoms, dramas, and movies of today, Hollywood regularly mocks and ignores traditional marriage. Take note of the number of couples who are portrayed as “shacking up,” or how often sex outside of marriage is shown as the norm. Our culture has grown so accustomed to these displays that we have become, as the author of Hebrews put it, “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Heb. 3:13)

In the late 1990s the Institute for American Values surveyed twenty of the most popular college textbooks used in undergraduate courses on marriage and family. Their research revealed a dreadfully negative outlook on marriage. One text shockingly (and deceitfully) states that marriage, “has an adverse effect on women’s mental health.” One can all too easily find even children’s books that downplay the importance of marriage. A book aimed at preschoolers talks of the “different kinds of daddies,” the ones who go away and the ones who stay.

In How Now shall We Live, Chuck Colson notes sadly that even the church has not been very effective in stemming the tide against the decline of marriage. He states that, “Few clergy have been equipped to put the brakes on the destructive trends that have torn marriages apart at ever increasing rates, even within their own congregations.” One program he suggests that local churches look into is called Marriage Savers (www.marriagesavers.org). It has a comprehensive strategy aimed at engaged couples, marriage enrichment, and rescuing seriously troubled marriages.

When questioned about divorce, Christ spoke of the hardness of our hearts, and declared that “what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matt. 19:6). On the issue of divorce C.S. Lewis wrote, “It is more like having your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment.” Writing in the 1940s Lewis bemoaned the “modern” view of divorce, that it is “a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another, or when either of them falls in love with someone else.” The “modern” view of divorce in the forties certainly seems to mirror the 21st century view.

Writing as a single man about marriage, Lewis displayed a wonderful understanding of how marriages begin and what makes them last until “death do us part.” Interestingly, he did this mostly by discussing marriage in relation to justice and distinguishing “loving” with “being in love.”

Justice, he notes, includes the keeping of promises. Most everyone who has married makes a promise to stay with their mate until death. If “being in love” is the only reason for remaining married, Lewis continues, then this “really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made.” In other words your promise to remain married cannot rest upon your feelings of being “in love.” He continues, “A promise must be about things I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling a certain way.”

But, he concludes, “ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense—love as distinct from ‘being in love’ is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise.”

May God help all of us who are married to keep the promises made to our spouses. And may those considering marriage, or divorce, weigh carefully what those promises mean and all the consequences of breaking them.

Copyright 2015, 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