Think Tank 2012 Live-Blog: Two-ism and Science (James Wanliss)
Speaker: James Wanliss (physics professor)
Session: Two-ism and Science
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” - Dawkins
Long ago, those indulging in the physical sciences did so as only a hobby. The main exercise of intellect was primarily as a theologian. Today, when people are faced with important questions, they no longer look to gospel ministers.
Early Christians believed that the Bible was the Word of God and the ultimate source of truth. Early Christians believed that god revealed Himself through the Bible and nature. Then, science without reference to God was considered impossible. Today, this is considered an anathema. In fact, contemporary One-ists consider science as the force that puts the nail in the coffin of God. They claim that science and religion are unrelated – that one deals with facts, the other with feelings.
Dawkins is a purveyor of a search for knowledge that we will call One-ism. One-ist science is a pursuit of knowledge and understanding without reference to a personal God.
Materialist and organic are the flavors I give to One-ist science.
“Modern Science . . . claims that the whole range of phenomena, mental as well as physical—the entire universe—is its field. It asserts that the scientific method is the solegateway to the whole region of knowledge.” Karl Pearson
One-ist scientists make the mistake of believing the source of truth is only to be found in material (created) things. A recent IMAX science documentary portrays Christianity as an enemy of science. Science has become an idol of power. One of science’s designs is to rid man of soul and the universe of God.
The atheism of Carl Sagan hold that man or matter is the source of truth—mediating truth. Darwinianism denies spiritual reality. Ironically, such audacious goals produce a blind faith. Materialistic One-ism does not so much assert that God is dead but that he was never alive.
Organic One-ism attempts to provide something more nurturing (and somewhat spiritual).
Sagan: “”As scientists, many of us have had profound experiences of awe and reverence before the universe. We understand that what is regarded as sacred is more likely to be treated with care and respect. Our planetary home should be so regarded. Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment need to be infused with a vision of the sacred.”
Quantum physics suggests that atoms are mostly empty space. Our planet is bathing in high-energy radiation. Originally, this was thought to spring from the ground. Now, we know that the radiation is showering from the heavens. Physicists have discovered quarks of many varieties. Time and again of the miniscule quantum world has defied all common logic and understanding. None of it makes sense. We don’t have any way to detect these things. Matter is far less solid than we have ever assumed.
Organic One-ism dominates much of academia, but not so much science (yet). Mechanic One-ism dominates the sciences today. Dawkins: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
Purveyors of One-ism (atheistic or theistic) have in common a creation myth. Materialist One-ists argue that nothing is sacred. Organic One-ists argue that all is sacred. However, when everything is sacred, really nothing is.
It is a sweet thing to do science to the glory of God. We see it in children: a love for truth and his power for divine excellence. Because God is truth, the pursuit of science is the pursuit of God. All science should lead us to the God of all wisdom.
“For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.” (see Isaiah 28:24-29)
How should we then do science? Clearly, One-ist science is impoverished. Science must not ignore Biblical truth that makes science possible and good.
Scientific principles that are incompatible with One-ism:
1. Creator. “In the beginning God…” We begin with God alone.
2. Romans 1:20 uncovers another clear principle. True science must harmonize with and not contradict the truth of the Godhead. His whole work is set forth in the work of creation and renewal.
3. Decree. Miracles are not God violating laws. The laws of nature directly express the commands of God as He reveals Himself. Dawkins/Sagan exhaust themselves building castles in the sky. God’s intimate involvement tells us that we need not reach to the stars. God comes to us in Scripture, by His voice.
4. Creation. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb 11:3). Natural science is not capable of discovering the true manner of creation. I know that God created all things of nothing. I know because God has told me, and I believe Him. Science speculates on matter. Moreover, God created creation. His transcendent nature is beyond us.
5. Law. 2 Corinthians 14:40 “decently and in order.” God’s laws reveal him, so we know that He is a god of beauty and order. Wigner: “Why is mathematics so unreasonably effective?” Christians alone could speak of the reasonableness of science and mathematics.
6. Unity. God has set in our hearts eternity. Scripture calls indescribable the things that await Christians in glory. For now, we see glimpses of his glory. When God made final touches on his work of art, he said it was very good (Gen 1:31). God is one God and there is a unity in creation. All creation came from the Word of one great Architect. He made it all and upholds it all. The cosmos are not dangling bits of matter; rather, there is structure and harmony of function.
7. Diversity. Like the body of the church, we must see variety in His creation. All is not one. Psalm 104:24
8. Sustenance. God maintains the world. He upholds it and regulates every part of it. He is not a distracted Creator, He is an attentive lover.
9. Sin. Jesus came to die and pay the wages of sin. If we can understand this, we can understand why He wept when He beheld the grave of His friend. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Even if there were no deficiency in our nature, we would still be finite in nature before an infinite God. Comprehensive knowledge is only found in an infinite God. We need to be aware of our limits and prejudice. Proverbs 18:13 Healthy skepticism is inited by Scripture; it is subjected to God’s word.
10. General Revelation. God reveals Himself through word. This reveals that human beings are rational creatures. See Acts 17:27 and Proverbs 18:15. Science is not necessarily vain. The quest for science is for anybody with a mind created in the image of God.
11. Special Revelation. Tongues are necessary to taste, nose to smell, eyes to see, ears to hear. The absolute standard for both speaking and thinking must be the Scriptures. The inspired statements of Scripture are decisive. Genesis 1 is important in respect to biology, etc, etc.
12. Redemption. God places value on all made, but man alone has a particular depth of intimacy and affection. Romans 8:19 “creation eagerly awaits.” Rom 8:22 “groans and labors with birth pangs.” Christians above all have the mind of Christ. Why would we seek to go to simple things? God chooses to set His saving love on our kind, yet they too will find renewal through the redemption of mankind. Both His and our work for His glory. Science is a gift of God. Our scientific task is to use our minds for His glory.
Calvin: “We must carefully notice these two things—that a knowledge of all the sciences is mere smoke, where the heavenly science of Christ is wanting; and man, with all his acuteness, is as stupid for obtaining of himself a knowledge of the mysteries of God, as an ass is unqualified for understanding musical harmonies.”
Dawkins sees God as a bully. Rather, we see that the Lord is involved with His creation and urges us to see, taste, and feel what he has revealed: that He is good.