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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Scientists need to hear the gospel, too.

Christ didn't come to straighten us out about how old the earth is. He said very little about that subject. He said a lot about sin, and love, and He loved us enough to die as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. Everybody needs that, whether they acknowledge it or not, whether they know it or not. Scientists need it, too.

David Heddle, whose blog is probably considerably more widely read than this one -- if not, it deserves to be -- recently posted on his problems with the Intelligent Design movement. I share them. The entire post is well worth reading, and I recommend it highly. He says, in part:

I would say to the ID movement:
  1. If you're about science, then do science.
  2. If you're about politics, then do politics.
  3. If you're about promoting theism, then promote theism.
But if you are really about (3), then don't deny it and say you are about (1) but for some reason you are compelled to hire multitudes of lawyers and use the methods of (2).

He also writes that believing scientists, especially scientists in training, or who have recently finished their training, and are looking for positions, have been forced to be even quieter about their beliefs than in past times, because of the controversy generated by the ID movement. Where once you might have been able to say, in class, or in an interview, that you have some questions about origins, and are not sure there are scientific explanations for every aspect of origins, now you might try to avoid saying such things, knowing that, if you do, you are likely to be grilled about putting stickers in textbooks, or pushing the teaching of design in public schools as an alternative theory.

Although I am a long way from my training, and from looking for a position, my view is that Heddle is correct about this.

Pushing ID as it has been pushed may have done something even worse. It may have stopped some people's ears to the gospel, especially those of scientists. (Pushing young-earth creationism has also done that, I believe, but there isn't presently a YEC movement trying to change the texts in the public schools.) Science sees itself as threatened. Christianity has become associated with politics, as Heddle says. Scientists, like people in other professions, are not likely to listen to views from those they see as trying to cut away the very foundations of their profession.

I'm afraid that the ID movement has silenced believing scientists who might have been examples in the classroom and the laboratory, and has also turned people away from the real heart of Christianity -- Christ's solution to the sin problem. That's too bad.

Thanks for reading.


Oscar said...

In most ways I agree about the Intelligent Design movement. As I understand its surface meaning, I have no trouble with it. But it seems to be often used simply as a Trojan horse for Creationism. And that leads to disillusionment, to say the least.

BTW, thanks for the word on Beta Blogger (on Claw of the Conciliator). Why do some people have problems posting or reading comments on it? Otherwise, how is it working for you?


Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Oscar.

By "Creationism," I am assuming that you mean young-earth creationism. If so, I think you are right, which means that some of the people trying to push ID for that reason don't understand ID. (This post documents some of the differences between ID and YEC.) Perhaps one reason for that is that YEC can be defined rather simply, but it's difficult to do so for ID, or at least I have difficulty doing so.

The new Blogger requires a different log-in than the old one, and, until recently, when I, using the new Blogger, tried to make a comment on someone who wasn't doing so, I had to use the "Other," or "Anonymous" option when commenting. That seems to have been fixed now. I can't say whether the reverse has also been fixed, so that someone who isn't using the new Beta version can comment on a blog that is using it, as I use it.

By the way, one thing about the new Blogger version that I haven't used, but that may be useful, is the option to subscribe to the comments on someone else's post. That could be very useful.

Thanks again.

elbogz said...

I'm going to cut and paste something I found in the comments over at

In Ken Miller's presentation he quoted a passage from Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) from his work "The Literal Meaning of Genesis" (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim).

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

I have also used this bit of text to address the nonsense of antiscience fundamentalists. What Miller did not include, and I wish he had is the section following;

Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. {Augustine here has refered to 1 Timothy 1.7}

{This translation was by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41.)

The wild distortion of faith and scripture by creationists when "they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions" is more distructive of religion than science could ever be.


Martin LaBar said...

Indeed! Thanks, elbogz.