After several years of owning the book, I’ve started to read The Joy of Pi by David Blatner. It’s a delightful book — beautifully illustrated, witty, filled with fun(!) quotes about the mysterious little π — which I think I’d recommend to others once I finish it; at the very least, I bet Dad would enjoy it.
However, what stands out most in my mind from The Joy of Pi is this paragraph, found on page twenty-nine:
The first millennium C.E. saw the Dark Ages in Europe, which were filled with war and strife following the breakdown of the Roman Empire and the rise in power of early Christianity. Any budding scientific interest in Europe during these years was effectively quelled by religious intolerance or destroyed by warring factions. But knowledge has a way of traveling to where it will flourish, and pi (along with many other facets of Western thought) managed to pop up in the more nurturing academic climate of the Muslim world.
The mathematics of π may seem of little consequence to you, but the fact of the matter is that π shows up in far too many places for it to be ignored. Whether in engineering, physics, mathematics, or astronomy (or any number of other fields), having a solid understanding of π is beneficial. As Augustus De Morgan wrote, “This mysterious 3.14159 … which comes in at every door and window, and down every chimney” (A Budget of Paradoxes, as cited in The Joy of Pi).
Yet the “academic climate” in Europe over 1,000 years ago prevented much progress from being made. The earth was flat, located at the center of the universe, and the sun revolved around it… and the Church was content with that.
At that point in history, scientific advancement posed no real threat to Christianity; after all, the earth can be a tiny speck in a galaxy which itself is a tiny speck in a vast, expanding universe without it losing its position in the sight of God. Does holding God’s attention require that the earth stand out as the midpoint of everything? When talking about a God who is glorified by turning sinners’ hearts to Him, I find it amazing that Earth is but a speck in the cosmic dance, yet still at the center of His plan. That is how He seems to operate — what is central, magnificent, or glorious from a naturalistic standpoint is overlooked by the Almighty, for He is looking for the broken, the poor, the insignificant… A wretch like me, for instance.
Eventually, science was “allowed” to progress in Europe. And it has continued to grow.
And today, two major scientific paradigms “threaten” the Christendom yet again: the big bang theory and the theory of evolution.
You’d think that … men of faith would finally start to realize that science poses no threat to Christianity.
You’d think that after millennia of unnecessary bickering between men of faith and men of science, the men of faith would finally start to realize that science poses no threat to Christianity. Rather, whatever scientific advances are made seem to repeatedly show God to be all the greater — rather than being the Creator & Sustainer of air, earth, fire, water, and quintessence, He is Creator & Sustainer of hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, et al.
To quote my father:
Science is a study of the physical world around us. As it stands today, evolutionary theory is the paradigm under which science functions. There are literally mountains of data from many different fields that support this paradigm.
He didn’t include it, but the same could be said for the big bang theory; it & evolutionary theory are the paradigms within which modern day chemistry, biology, astronomy, cosmology, physics, and so on are operating.
Is science more threatening than Hell? I hardly think so.
And what’s wrong with that? To my Christian brethren I ask, do you believe what Jesus said? If the gates of Hell are unable to ever to prevail against us, why do we act as though science is out to end all that we hold dear? Is science more threatening than Hell? I hardly think so. It must be that science is simply more terrifying than Hell; after all, isn’t it easier — especially for those who may be weak in the faith or may not even be true believers at all — to fear that which can be seen?
Science cannot prove or disprove God. I’m sorry if you think it can, but you’re wrong, wholly & thoroughly. Even if it could, what would be the point? Unbelievers will still be unbelievers even if they saw the dead raised to life; and believers should be believers, and happy are those who believe & have not seen! Only the Lord can convert the heart of man, so why waste so much of your time on attempting to prove the Lord’s existence to the unbelieving atheists, humanists, and so on of the world? You’ll get nowhere even if your arguments are compelling.
You were not commissioned by God to go out and prove His case. You were commissioned to go out and to preach the gospel. That is the means the Lord has chosen to change the hearts of His elect. No amount of scientific presentation can improve upon that. “Repent and believe…” What? That God created the Earth and that evolution is bogus? No. “Repent and believe the Gospel.”
And within no biblical description of the Gospel and within no historic Christian confessions of the Gospel that I’m aware of will you find believers quibbling with unbelievers over the origins of man and of the cosmos.
But Rick, the Bible teaches us that God created man? You’ll get no argument from me on that. I wholeheartedly believe Genesis 1 & 2. The same goes for Genesis 3 through Revelation 22.
Wait, didn’t you say evolution is okay and isn’t a threat? Doesn’t it teach us that man evolved from monkeys?? What I said is that evolution may very well be a valid paradigm within which science can operate, and no, it is not a threat.
What evolution does is explain how life operates today and presumably for everyday prior. If it bugs you that humans & animals appear so closely related, I encourage you to go back to Genesis 1 & 2 and notice that not only were we all created by the same God, but we were also all created from the same material — earth. How much difference are you really hoping to find? After all, the key difference, biblically, is that man was designed in the image of God. How, pray tell, can science test such a thing? It can’t.
How, pray tell, can science test such a thing? It can’t.
And if it cannot be tested, it cannot be disproven, and so I say again: Science — even the theory of evolution — is not a threat.
After all, what conclusion would you expect science to draw? God has given us life upon the earth which is genetically very similar. Likewise, He has created reproductive mechanisms which allow for mutations within the genetic code. And the environment within which all of this is taking place results in the survival of those creatures best suited for it (a penguin doesn’t stand a camel’s chance in the desert, after all).
Given the similarities, fact of mutations, and so on — the evidential framework within which science works — the paradigm of evolution is derived. It explains — in a secular manner, mind you — the origins of life. Scientists do not come to that conclusion to be hostile to Christianity. Indeed, it is the only conclusion which may be drawn without direct intervention by the Holy Spirit in their souls, enabling them to believe in the biblical testimony.
Scientists do not come to the conclusion of evolution to be hostile to Christianity.
Yet even still, the biblical testimony does not negate the available evidence. To the contrary, the Scriptures reassure us that the Heavens declare the glory of God, that the earth is the Lord’s, and that all of Creation declares His existence. There is rest & solace in those truths, and I do not think they were ever meant to be apologetic battle cries for creation ministries.
Are you saying then, Rick, that ministries like Answers in Genesis are a waste of time? Not necessarily. If I haven’t made it clear yet, attempting to make biblical creation a viable scientific alternative to current accepted paradigms is a waste of time. Biblical creation, while I believe it to be true, is admittedly untenable within science, and that should be wholly unsurprising to anyone who understands science. Miracles (including Creation, the Resurrection, and the new birth of believers), by definition, are scientifically impossible, which is fine. We can rest in the truth that with God nothing is impossible.
To my Christian brethren reading this, I encourage you to step out of the way of scientific progress. Two-thousand years from now — excepting the possible return of Christ — the Church will still be going strong and science will still be seeking the betterment of mankind.
I can’t help but think of what advancements would have already been made if Christendom & science could have been working together from the beginning. And frankly, I’d like to see where science is taking the world today, without causing scientists to waste time responding to & debating Creationists concerning things which are outside the realm of science.
At the end of the day, God’s Word stands true…
Let the evolutionist believe in evolution. Let the big bang theorist believe in the big bang. And let them continue to see where science is taking us. Maybe someday new advancements will overrule evolution & the big bang (effectively making all the Creation vs. Evolution debates that much bigger a waste of time), but we as Christians should let the experts work those issues out. At the end of the day, God’s Word stands true and the Church suddenly has more time to focus on evangelism rather than fruitless debate.
According to The Joy of Pi, π has been calculated out to over 51 billion digits (the millionth is “1”). And wonder of wonders, the Church still survives — nay, thrives. Science has brought us fantastic technologies — such as radio and the internet — which has allowed the Gospel to be spread to countless souls who would have otherwise likely never heard the news.
Science is not a threat. It isn’t even scary. It should be embraced by the Church, utilized to fulfill the Great Commission, rather than striven against to fulfill a commission not found within the pages of Scripture. Preach the Gospel, allow God to give the increase, and trust in Him to transform the minds of the regenerate through His Word.