Wednesday, November 22

Over the past few years, the attitudes between our culture and Christians has changed. There are so many areas now where the mood has become confrontational. And it works both ways. There are areas where Christians have been the confrontational ones - calling for boycotts, protesting, and putting together political movements to do battle in a war against secularism. Christianity Today recently ran an article about some Christian "political operatives" in Ohio and DC. The language of these Christians (many of whom are ministers) was couched in terms of a holy war and enemies and conquest. You can read the article here. But in areas such as abortion and gay marriage, many Christians have been pretty confrontational (and sometimes insanely so) for quite some time. I'm not really comfortable with that approach. I don't know that it does much to demonstrate that the Kingdom of God operates on a different set of values and attitudes than the world.

But the other "side" is stepping up its attack and some of the loudest voices are those in the scientific community. Time Magazine's cover story a couple of weeks ago was entitled, "God vs. Science." The NY Times ran a disturbing article this week that detailed a recent conference called "Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason, and Survival." The article quoted many of our nation's "elite" scientists calling for an end to religion. One man equated religious education for children with brain-washing and child abuse. It seemed that the desire of most taking part in the conference was to quit being patient with religion and religious people and to go on the offensive to squelch religious thought and faith. (You may have to register with the NY Times to read the article, but registration is free and, I think, worth it.)

As one who has worked on a university campus for almost 25 years, that would be a troubling direction. For the most part, even non-religious professors have not been antagonistic towards Christians on most university campuses. But if this attitude changes and professors become more confrontational, it would make life even more difficult for Christian students.

I have always believed that Christian faith and science go hand-in-hand. My conviction has been that all Truth ultimately finds it source in God and that we as people of faith don't have to fear honest scientific inquiry. I believe that when we study any of the natural sciences we are studying the creative and ordered mind of God as our world reflects his work, nature, and character. But it seems to becoming increasingly clear that the non-Christian scientific community may not be open to that perspective.

I had caught a "clue" to this over the past couple of months. We have been doing a series of talks on Tuesday nights that are geared to help Christian students to think "Christianly" about their society and the issues facing it. We have talked about affluence and justice, about Truth and what it means to really be Pro-life. And, since evolution and creationism and Intelligent Design have been such hot topics, I wanted to talk about "origins." But I didn't want to talk about it. Even I'm a little skeptical of someone without a background in the natural sciences talking "authoritatively" about these issues.

So I attempted to find a Christian professor at the UofA to address these issues. I know that we have Christian professors in the natural sciences. But I couldn't find anyone willing to do it. I contacted the Christian Faculty Fellowship. No one was willing to step up. That was discouraging! I don't know the reason for the lack of willingness, but it could be fear of taking too vocal a stand as a member of the UofA faculty. I don't know that is the reason, but it is possible.

Fortunately, I was able to find a biology professor at John Brown University who is going to come and talk with our students next Tuesday. My hope is not so much that he can answer all the questions regarding evolution, creation, and Intelligent Design but that he can help us think "Christianly" about the issues. And that he can demonstrate to my students that it is possible to pursue the natural sciences and be committed to Christ and his Word.


In other news:

Missouri State University in Springfield, MO recently settled a lawsuit. It seems that a professor gave his students the assignment of writing letters to the state legislature in favor of homosexual adoption. One student, Emily Brooker, declined to do so on religious grounds. So the professor punished her for it - filing a grievance, moving to withhold her degree, and placing her before a board of inquiry. Emily filed suit and MSU backed down. The grievance has been removed from her "permanent record" and the professor has been relieved of administrative duties and suspended from teaching for a while. You can read the story here.

In another example of how dumb our world can be, schools are beginning to ban tag. You know - tag. The highly dangerous game we used to play on the playground. I mean, they have already all but removed dodge ball from the school grounds (although the classic movie, Dodge Ball, did create a resurgence for the game). What's next? Tetherball? Kickball? Dean Johnson of the Christian Science Monitor has a good column about this development.


Lastly, if my last post's suggestion of a Banana Cover as a Christmas gift didn't meet all of your holiday shopping needs, you might try this: the Air-Guitar T-shirt. Maybe just the thing for the aspiring musician or karaoke star on your list!


Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Michael and all,

Here's my two bits on this intractable debate. Hope you and others can appreciate my efforts to provide a key to a true solution for humanity's seemingly never-ending cycle of struggle and despair.

Analyzing the Creator Debate

Did you ever consider that atheism arose because certain people saw that religious characterizations about the nature of an omnipotent "God" were seriously flawed and then concluded that religion and the Creator were the same things? This is the exact same conclusion at the base of religious beliefs; namely that the Creator and religion are inseparable. Consequently, both atheists and religious followers are arguing over a flawed assumption without considering that other possibilities negate the common core conclusion of both groups. These arguments are actually over religion and whether it represents a reliable model of reality. The answer to this question is of course not. Religion is not only flawed, it is purposely deceptive! Though atheists are certainly sincere in their conclusions, the fact remains that they and religious followers are locked in a debate that cannot be won by either side because both base their positions upon whether the same flawed premise is the truth. In order for this debate to conclude with a truthful answer, a greater level of discernment is required.

One apt clarifying question is, if someone tells lies about you, does that negate you or make you a liar or a lie? Certainly, the image cast about you would be a false one, but that is their image, not the real you. Consequently, faulty religious assertions about the Creator of this universe do not negate the existence of a Creator. Considering the possibility that this universe is not by chance leaves the door open to how it arose, which leads us to seek what could have created and maintained it. Since neither religion nor science has yet adequately answered this question, it is safe to conclude that those who argue about the Creator based on either are most certainly wrong about one or more aspects. Therefore, another point of view and additional knowledge are required.



joey said...

There was a statistic quoted from a book I think you would find interesting by Francis Collins,, a scientist that had worked on the human genome project.

He made a lot of different points, but one interesting statistic- there was a survey done in the early 1900's (I think,, can't remmeber the date) asking people in the scientific community if they believed in the existence of a God, or were atheists. They did a similar poll a few years ago. The responses (percentage wise) were virtualy unchanged. (can't remember for the life of me what the numbers actually were,, been looking on-line for the last half hour :)