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Friday, February 21, 2014

The Non-Existent Church-Science Divide

By Rick Blumenberg / @rickblumenberg

The recent debate between Bill Nye, “the Science Guy” and Ken Ham of the Creation Museum has created a buzz around the idea of conflict between science and religion. Sometimes this buzz includes Christianity and the Church. I am not a religionist, but I am a Christian and a churchman and I think we need to look at reality to bring this debate into focus.

While it is true religion and science often find themselves in conflict, with the Christian church and science, the divide is not nearly as great as current debate would appear. It has become more contentious recently due to some scientists who are uneducated regarding the Bible and church history and they ignore facts about Christianity and science. The truth is Christianity has done more to strengthen education, the scientific method, and the development of new and innovative advancements than any other organization on earth, including all the great universities of the world. If you think I am exaggerating, I ask you, who began and developed most of those great universities? Who has done more to develop readership and education for all people? No doubt, it is the Christian church.

Unfortunately we must admit there are people in Christianity who try to block truth and reason from Christian debate and lock theology into their current understanding. In any group or organization there are always blockheads; with small minds and timid hearts who fear new understandings of truth and reject investigative learning. However, the blockheads are greatly in the minority within Christianity and Judaism, and except for the dark ages, they have not ruled or limited the free exercise of creative thought and discovery. This may be true of other religions as well, but I do not have sufficient knowledge to say.

There are also blockheads the scientific community; perhaps they are even more prevalent there than in the church. It is certainly true in our present day. Scientists’ ignorance of the Bible and Christian history causes many to think all Christians are morons to be institutionalized or at least have their children taken from them. Those types are the ones who created the current apparent divide. The divide, however, is between those who believe in creationary evolution as opposed to creation by God.

Creationary Evolutionism is a fundamentalist religion and in order to believe it one must ignore many obvious truths and obvious holes in their theories. There has never been a clear indication of one species morphing into a totally new and different species. But creationary evolutionists refuse to admit this fact and often try to intimidate and silence legitimate scientists who admit or even embrace, the truth—that creation makes sense and does not conflict with genuine science. The fact that science cannot prove creation is not the problem. The problem is that creationary evolutionists have chosen to attack those who are people of godly faith.

In truth, there are many excellent scientists, Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and no doubt in other faiths, who believe in the Creator God and find this truth has no conflict with legitimate scientific discovery, but they often cannot publicly admit it because to do so would put their jobs and scientific careers in jeopardy.

Let me give one example of scientific failure. In early Old Testament writings (see Leviticus 13 for example). God gave directions to protect people from germs. He taught the importance of hand-washing, isolation of persons with infectious diseases, and the general importance of cleanliness, especially in person-to-person contact. Nobody knew about germs, viruses and such; no doubt the requirements seemed a foolish waste of time and money. But those who followed the regulations lived and those who didn’t died.

Thousands of years later “Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor of German extraction discovered that washing hands between patients saved lives and prevented the spread of illnesses. Semmelweis proposed the practice of washing with chlorinated lime solutions in 1847 while working in Vienna General Hospital's First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctors' wards had three times the mortality of midwives' wards.”[i] He didn’t know why, but convinced it was true, he required the practice in his hospital—for a while. However, the other doctors (scientists every one) refused to do something they felt wasted their time and they removed him from the hospital along with his wash basins. Blockheads, as we can see, are obviously not limited to the church.

Another and more current example is stem cell research. The greatest thing since sliced bread, all they need do was harvest stem cells from aborted babies. Maybe even create test-tube babies to provide an abundantly available stem cell supply. All manner of diseases could be eliminated! The problem, recognized quickly by Christians and other good people, was the immorality involved. Millions has been spent on infant stem cells and to quote Leslie Stall on CBS’ 60 Minutes, “They have not lived up to their predictions”. That’s putting it mildly, Leslie. There have been virtually no successes.

On the other hand, those Christian and Jewish scientists who saw the potential in stem cells, but could not stomach the moral ambiguities of infant stem cells, chose to work with adult stem cells. Significant progress indicates possible medical breakthroughs. I predict within five years there will be significant advances in ALS and Parkinson’s disease. Two different companies I’ve heard of use the patients’ own stem cells to heal diseased bodies. There is no danger of rejection and they are already proven safe in laboratory tests. They aren’t there yet, but it is really promising.

God is always on the side of truth and right. He will not bless the efforts of those who deny truth and refuse to do right. But God blesses anyone of any religion or no religion at all who genuinely seek truth and right. Even atheists who do not believe in God will find when they seek after truth and right, they will experience God’s blessing in their work and much will be accomplished. God has built that blessing into the nature of the universe and it is automatic, but those who know, serve and seek to follow God’s ways, find the blessing and the accompanying benefits exponentially greater.

There is no conflict between genuine Christianity and legitimate science. All truth is God’s truth, whether in the laboratory or the sanctuary.

I’m Rick Blumenberg and that’s My View from Tanner Creek.

[i] Wikepedia, See Ignaz Semmelweiss


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this to a point, but there is a conflict when the two schools of though start intruding on each other's territory, or more accurately, questions.
There are only six basic questions; Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. The answers to two of these are obvious --
What happened? Well, we exist.
Where did it happen? Right here on planet Earth.
Two of the queations are for Science; How did we come to existence?, and When did that start?. The Who and the Why are questions for Religion to resolve, because Science neither has or uses the tools to answer them, just as Religion does not have or use the tools needed to answer the How and the When.
You lose me, however, when you state "There is no conflict between genuine Christianity and legitimate science. All truth is God's truth."
A-hold on there, Baba-louie.....If you are equating "genuine Christianity" with "All truth", and saying all truth MUST stem from the Bible, that means coming to a conclusion on the truth by reinterpreting the evidence to fit the original theory, and that is NOT Legitimate Science, which operates the other way around, i.e., the theory must adapt to the evidence. And thus...conflict......

Rick Blumenberg said...

Thank you for reading my blog and taking time to respond. You honor me especially with the honorary title, Baba-louie. :) Never been called that before.

As for my comment you question, I believe God is real and alive. I'm tired of scientific arrogance that go beyond their territory and deny the existence of God just because they can't put him in a test tube.

If there is a God, and I'm convinced there is, and if he is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and we can trust what Jesus taught us about him, then he is the source of all truth--scientific, theological, medical, etc. I do not believe the Bible was written to be a science textbook and I think those Christians who claim that are making false claims comparable to those who go on television and imply that belief in God is for blockheads. Anyone who does that without even taking time to study the great religious books including the Bible is being foolish.

As to the “all truth is God’s truth”--I believe God created the world. That means I believe he fully understands science and all other areas of knowledge. Our job is to seek out truth wherever it is found and use it for the good of mankind. I'm not a scientist, but scientists who really seek to learn how the world works are doing God's work. I think they would be wise to study the Bible, but I don't recommend it as a science textbook. Even though it wasn't written for that purpose, some things written there do reveal an understanding of science that was completely unknown to mankind at the time. I think that's because God fully understands how the world works because he made it.

I have no idea if this cleared things up with you or if you still think I'm a Baba-louie, (whatever that is) but again, thanks for reading and responding.

God Bless!