Monday, July 11, 2011

The Limits of Science, Part II

(This is an ongoing series of Monday posts...Part I can be found here and Part III will be coming next week).

Last week I briefly discussed a series of amazing inventions that mankind has created over the past century or so. The list is truly incredible and far from complete.

At the same time, however, there also seems to be this growing belief that science can solve almost any problem...given enough time. Along with that belief is a growing effort to marginalize religion, and maybe more specifically, Biblical Christianity. After all, to a casual passerby, Christians pray to some invisible being who does not seem to answer back, gather in churches to hear bits and pieces out of a book that is chock full of contradictions, and follow all sorts of rituals because...well...people like rituals!

Or so it seems.

Let's back up. There are several well known scientists in history who were Christians. In many cases, their faith was a foundational part of their scientific pursuits...sort of like a starting point, in essence. Some of these figures included Max Planck, James Clark Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, Michael Faraday, Blaise Pascal, Johannes Kepler and Charles Babbage, just to name a few.

So are we to believe that this list of scientists were merely deluded into believing there was some invisible being at the "other end of the prayer line" yet actively pursued truth in a wide range of fields? There is a well known modern day computer scientist, Donald Knuth, who is also a Christian. In computer science circles, he is widely known for his classic, yet challenging book series, "The Art of Computer Programming". Volume I of the series now contains this quote from Bill Gates "If you think you're a really good (Knuth's) Art of Computer Programming...You should definitely send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing."

Maybe the real issue is that science has not gone far enough yet. Perhaps when it reaches the point that it can reduce such human emotions as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control to a series of chemical reactions, equations, and laws we will then have the capability to solve mankind's greatest dilemmas.

Then, of course, some new, thorny issues would emerge: would science be the vehicle to deliver such a wonderful set of qualities? Would it be science's job to identify which human embryos are "on the right track" in terms of these qualities and which ones are not? After all, one could theoretically argue, we have pills that cure all sorts of diseases nowadays, such as ear infections, skin infections, etc. Perhaps there will come a day when scientists will find a "joy" gene or a "patience" gene or can medicate these qualities in people.

Or could it be that there really is something such as a concept of sin and grace, and a God who really does answer back? In Galatians 5:22 (NKJV) it states: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." Now, which sounds easier...taking a pile of pills or merely asking God for help?

The other question that also needs to asked is if emotions can be reduced to equations, what about something so complicated as a relationship? Could you imagine the love between a husband and wife or the love between a father and his son being summed up by pages and pages of mathematical proofs?

In John 4:24 (NKJV), Jesus states: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." That sounds like a set of basic requirements. Is it possible that the scientists I mentioned above did this very thing? To say these scientists just did not know any better about their religious beliefs sounds like an insult to their intellect.

What do you think? Why is there this growing disconnect between believing in the Bible, conducting science, and having a relationship with God?

Next Monday: Can God be tested?

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