Religion Bad, Science Good – An Argument for Fools by Rev Michael Bresciani, August 14, 2011
My recently published piece entitled “Premiere of Discovery’s ‘Curiosity’ – Shameless Secularism not Science” has created no small stir among both the religious and the scientific community. While I never intended for that to happen it has become one of the greatest lessons of my life.
I loved science as a child and my fascination with all new discoveries has never ended. The importance of some discovery is inestimable and the search for knowledge is a healthy and exciting aspect of human endeavor. It is the philosophy of science and in some cases, the dogma of science that needs to be scrutinized a great deal more carefully.
Being a man of faith does not preclude exercising some legitimate scrutiny about all that calls itself religion. Not using our best wisdom and utilizing some careful research is why those with religious proclivities, sadly, end up in cults or much worse they finish life with a kool-aid cocktail. Those with a great love of science could learn at least this one lesson from the religiously inclined.
Not all that calls itself science is legitimate, thus we have come to words like junk science, and phrases like prior philosophic postulates, and mistakes like people dying from pharmaceuticals or treatments that were after all, dangerous to our health. Add to that the scientific theories that lie scattered along the highway of good intentions, some labeled hoaxes, some labeled wishful thinking and others simply, honest mistakes.
Noticing all this is not a declaration of war but rather it is the reminder that all disciplines in our modern world would do well to remember, we are but mortals, and honest search must be willing to admit when something is simply not true. It is from this point that we can shake of the dust of bad ideas and move ahead with the new and hopefully more productive inquiries into the unknown.
The argument between religion and science has to be questioned on both sides. Religion that is against real scientific discovery is perhaps ignorant but science that stands in defiance of religion has revealed itself as bigoted and biased. It is not just the bias or the agenda of anti-religious science that needs to be questioned, but we would be better served to ask, what is the source or, the very inspiration of that bias.
In summary using the gospel to try to refute science can be futile. Science will stand or fall on its own, as each hypothesis is subjected to inquiry, time, and the test of practicality. Trying to use science to refute spirituality may be misguided; but to the degree that it is guided, who is providing that guidance? According to scripture all attacks against the gospel are without doubt guided by the god of this world, the ruler of the cosmos, otherwise known as Satan. Of course scientists are not likely to believe in a literal satanic spirit ruling over a reprobate and dying world because it or he cannot be subject to their scrutiny.
We have to concede that examining spirituality is not the primary purpose of science and conversely it is not the purpose of science to discredit, disprove or deny the existence of God or spirituality in mankind. It would seem that we could take all this to heart and as reasonable men, walk away to our respective disciplines and live happily ever after, but that is not what is happening in our world.
In my last article I quoted scripture about the Prophet Daniel’s description of a new wave of knowledge just before the last days. I also added that the Apostle Paul warned that it would be by man’s newfound knowledge that we would decide to give God his walking papers. The suggestion that science was helping in this effort was also indicated, and resented, as the emails and blogs indicated. Did I apologize?
I have never found reason to apologize for anything in scripture and especially as it pertains to prophecy. I am a generally soft hearted and reasonable man and I love people but the reason I do not apologize has nothing to do with that. It is more than my love of mankind but it is my responsibility to God, to proclaim his message of redemption that constrains me to say what I have said, and leave the response to the hearers. I do not expect thousands of glowing emails or people beating a path to my door with bouquets of lovely flowers.
If I did not really believe that man is God’s creation and is ultimately an accountable creature with an eternal destiny, I would recant, retract, deny, apologize and shrink away from everything I have ever said. My beliefs are not established just by the measure of my faith on a moment by moment basis but it is based on the fact that I have believed the report of an entire nation (Israel) that saw Christ and heard him. It is based on the eye witness reports of twelve good men that followed him for three years and saw the dead raised, the sick healed and his own emergence from the tomb, alive.
Jumping ahead to our modern world we see that we still trust the judgment of twelve to decide, not what they have eye witnessed, but what is shown and spoken to them in a court of law. They hold the power of freedom, life and death and a person’s entire future rests in their hands. God forbid we accept the account of twelve men who spent three years eating, sleeping and walking with the Son of the Living God. When scientists make swelling statements about what took place billions of years ago we swallow it hook line and sinker, no investigation, no questions and no problem. Dare we use the word hypocrisy at this point?
Making mistakes as they say is after all human. Both scientist and the religious of our world have made a few but here is another list of twelve things that should help us to tweak the point that; not even the very priests of empiricism are beyond reproach. These are some of sciences more glaring mistakes and we don’t mind because they are still working.
1. The atom is the smallest particle in existence, 2. Man can by means of alchemy produce gold, 3. Mars has a system of canals previously filled with water, 4. Heavier objects fall faster, 5. Fire emits phlogiston, 6. The liver circulates the blood in humans, 7. Proteins, not DNA are the key to heredity, 8. Germs don’t cause problems (great hand washing snafu of the 1860s,” 9. Earth is the center of the universe, 10. The world is flat, 11. Bloodletting can save lives, 12. Space travel, it is possible to reach the stars if we can acquire the speed of light. This list is by no means comprehensive but twelve will do fine to make the point, or provide at the least ample proof of the point.
Both religion, (the inquisition and the Crusades) and science, (the plague cured by a pocket full of poesies) have had their time of ignorance but both have been allowed to mature in a world that is corrected by further inquiry and basic honesty. The plague was caused by the fleas found on rodents and the inquisitions and Crusades ended when the truth of the scripture became available to all men not just a few religious leaders who thought they alone had the right to control, dispense and interpret it for others.
All real faith is likewise based on the historicity of the events seen in Christ’s life. We have hermeneutics, archaeology, apologetics and a few more divisions of study that help us to see the veracity of the scriptural record and the historical record as well. We use aids like Josephus, the Books of Roman History, Tacitus and other sources to augment our findings and today’s science as well. We are not all dumdums who have been hoodwinked by religious drones to cling to the antiquated and useless proclamation of a few deluded folks who are not far from being UFO abductees or Elvis sighters. (Apologies to the abductees and good luck to the Elvis sighters)
Our own personal experience with God may have taken place in the quiet sanctuary of a massive Catholic cathedral, a little Baptist church in the country, or in a dingy apartment on New York’s Lower East Side but when it is a real encounter with God’s Holy Spirit it is something that can never be ripped from us, argued away or subject to fading in a vast sea of forgetfulness. It is why for some forty years or so, I have always quoted a word my first pastor spoke to me and that I have never found reason to doubt. “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
In the interim you will pardon me if I think making swelling statements about the nature of sub-atomic particles creating the universe or the nature of black holes that remain a bazillion light years away from us is a bit of splendiferous hyperbole. We live in a world where millions go to bed hungry including children. Riots are sweeping across the Muslim world and now London England. America is teetering on total economic collapse, but alas, the top three temptations, power, fame and fortune still drive most people scientifically minded or not, and even more so, the leaders of this world. Too bad there is no science that deals with human temptations, but don’t be wary the Bible that science likes to chip away at, has a full treatment of the subject.
If we really want to discover the true nature of a black hole we may want to look a whole lot closer to this planet. Before we defend or dis any science or religion we might also want to ask what it is doing to deal with the nature of the black hole right here in our own backyard.
I endured insults from one science enthusiast who declared that he thought ending a treatise on the philosophy of science with a scripture verse, seemed just a little nutty. In fact, I would contend that here on planet number three, the promises, principles and prophecies of scripture are the only sane declarations to be found anywhere in this vacillating and uncertain world. Here’s one of my best examples. It describes a world that has finally seen the second coming of Christ and it is a brief picture of what follows that long awaited event.
As a footnote we must remember that regardless of how spectacular the projections of science may be they are not prophecies. The very best of Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Hawking rolled together are but mere scientific speculation. The following, more than just a prophecy, is a promise, spoken by the mouth of the living God. It is the only vision that will translate into future reality.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa 11: 6-9)
Speaking of the things of the future may cause some to doubt the messenger and perhaps to hate him as well. But no one in the future will doubt the message, and no one will hate the messenger for not telling them.
Those who prepare others to see what is ahead have heard all the objections and seen all the indifference. All of it is like the line from an old Irish song entitled Raglan Road, based on the poem by poet and novelist Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967)
“I saw the danger and I passed, along the enchanted way.
And I said let grief be as a falling leaf at the dawning of the day.”
So what does the preacher of tomorrow get for all his troubles? The future is the reward for the teller of the future, but your presence there is his undying hope and his unending prayer.
http://www.americanprophet.org has since 2005 featured the articles of columnist Rev Michael Bresciani along with news and reviews that have earned this site the title of The Website for Insight. Millions have read his timely reports and articles in online journals and print publications across the nation and the globe.