How can Christians do good if they are so regressive when it comes to science?


(Christy Hemphill) #1

Continuing the discussion from This website has been really helpful but I would be very thankful for answers to specific questions:

@AndrewF asks:

I find the discussion about the good Christianity can cause to be really cool, and I feel myself that I am a better person for it. How would you guys interpret how even still, a large amount of those who do good can still be regressive in matters such as science? I hope this isn’t rude of me. I’ve seen compelling arguments here, I just worry about such matters when Christians are largely rooted in the west and even there a lot of us who are supposed to be spiritual ambassadors have hit in a road bump with science and the good that can cause.


(Laura) #2

Hi Andrew, and thank you for asking these questions. I hope you know you’re not alone in asking them, and I am thinking over them as I read. I don’t have great answers, but sometimes “talking” about it this way helps get closer to one.

This specific question is one I’ve wondered about too. I have read opinions by others more influential, wise, and intelligent than me who have (gently and not-so-gently) pointed out the unfortunate degree to which Christians have allowed fear to influence us – whether in our relationship with politics, education, community-building, “foreign policy,” etc. and I think it can be true of science too.

Even though we’re told in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” we are still trained in fear from birth sometimes, and it is hard to overcome.

So what I hear you asking is how people who are “regressive” in that way can still do so much good. And I also ask myself that question because I formerly held a rather antagonistic view of science (and am still working through what I actually believe), so I can also ask myself, did I do any good as a YEC? Or did I do good back when I held to fear-based political views that alienated others? Most of the people I love still hold some of these views, and I know they do good – I am not better than them.

I suppose it all comes back to what God can do, not what any of us can do. He can bring about good through anyone, even people who are completely evil. If “the good Christianity can cause” is rooted in God’s work, and not ours, then he deserves the credit. As Rich Mullins once said (quoting a teacher of his): “God spoke to Balaam through his [donkey], and He has been speaking through [donkeys] ever since. So, if God should choose to speak through you, you need not think too highly of yourself.”

I don’t mean any of this as an excuse for being “regressive.” I guess for many of us it can be a very long process, and I’m grateful that God is more patient than I am.


(tom) #3

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


(Laura) #4

I’m sure glad my doctors believed in “men’s wisdom” when I was in the ER last month. If they’d simply been paging through a Bible trying to figure out how to help me, I might have bled out before they came up with an answer.

You’re creating a dichotomy that doesn’t exist. “Leftist science” isn’t even a thing.


#5

Thank you. Sometimes I worry when people bring up the possible dangers and consequences these mindsets can have, but in spite of that, there are still many among those who I have found to be very inspiring and compelling, even if we don’t see entirely eye to eye. I respect your insight on the matter.


(tom) #6

Not sure why my reply was deleted. No name calling. No insults. No vulgarity. Seriously, what rule was violated?

Nobody questions doctors or emergency room procedures. But this is a far cry from the “science” of evolution, climate change, naturalism, believing in/searching for aliens, unsupported theories the Big Bang, the origin of gravity, matter, time, space, life, etc. etc.


(Christy Hemphill) #7

“Leftist” is a loaded political term, one that you are probably well aware is used pejoratively in many Christian circles. To insinuate that an entire academic discipline is “leftist” is to unwarrantedly attribute political motivations (and a backhanded insult) to an entire group. It is not appropriate to negatively characterize other people’s motivations or speak for the beliefs of other people. And we discourage political discussions here.


(tom) #8

Oh my. If posts get erased that easily here then I don’t even know what i can say or can’t say. My post was not even political nor had any ill will towards the side I disagree with.

As far as science deniers not being able to do good things, even science promoters acknowledge that science is always changing. And that means it moves away from something that was wrong. Try googling “scientists are surprised” or “shocked” by what they find and how baffled they are that certain things contradict longstanding theories. This means that someone who blindly put their faith in science, at least in regards to the idea that was overturned, was in the wrong for all those years. How could being wrong about a scientific theory for years possibly be better - or cauae better works - than the one who was skeptical of the science from the start?


(Christy Hemphill) #9

The vast majority of users manage to figure out the ropes, I have complete confidence that you can too. :slight_smile:

I don’t know a single scientist who would say they “put their faith in science” blindly or otherwise. Name one scientific theory that has been overturned or contradicted in the last two decades. Having a hypothesis falsified or a prevailing explanation revised or adjusted or overruled is not something that throws the entire modern scientific endeavor into suspicion and chaos, no matter how “shocking” or “surprising” the clickbait headlines declare the findings to be.


(Benjamin Kirk) #12

[quote=“supersport, post:8, topic:36639”]
As far as science deniers not being able to do good things, even science promoters acknowledge that science is always changing.[/quote]
But not in the direction that the deniers want it to go.

[quote]And that means it moves away from something that was wrong.
[/quote]Nope. It’s not binary as you wish it was.

The fact that the earth is flat does not make your flat road map wrong.

Relativity doesn’t mean that Newtonian physics is wrong when calculating the trajectory of an artillery shell.

They laughed at Bozo the Clown…


(Christy Hemphill) #13

I think you are confusing skepticism and cynicism. Scientists are skeptics - they question everything. Their fundamental attitude is one of questioning. Cynics doubt (even in the face of clear evidence) because they question other people’s motivations. Their fundamental attitude is one of mistrust.

It is healthy to be skeptical of scientific claims. We should all ask questions and seek answers. However, what is championed as skepticism in many Christian circles is much more akin to a paranoid cynicism built on distrust of the scientific community and fueled by fear of the implications of modern scientific findings. That is unhealthy.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #14

Sadly this is a common way to think of science in Christian circles… hence us being regressive when it comes to science.

For example, the first book on Physics was, well Aristotle’s book called Physics. While he had some ideas that seem odd to our ears (who describes objects moving to their ‘natural place’ amongst other things), he has a good and correct description of the motion of bodies immersed in a fluid and subject to the force of gravity and friction (i.e. the real things we meet in our everyday existence). It’s not wrong physics, but it’s an approximation. Again with Newton, his ideas of universal gravitation were also an approximation, but this time of General Relativity. And General Relativity is an approximation of something else that we don’t yet know (maybe Quantum Gravity?).

Was science ‘always changing?’ Not in the sense that we think of it. When we use the phrase ‘always changing,’ we tend to think of that to mean like ‘oh I used to like Burger King but now I like Wendys or I was a fan of Geico’s car insurance but switched to Nationwide because of Peyton Manning.’ That is absolutely a wrong idea of science and it is greatly misleading to use such language to describe the process of science.


(Christy Hemphill) #15

Science is kind of like Protestantism, always reforming. It’s not like the reworking of theology that made Calvinists or Lutherans out of Catholics is akin to converting from Catholicism to Zen Buddhism.


(James McKay) #16

@supersport

I’d just like to add something here. It is this talk of “putting their faith in science” that creates the impression of hostility towards science that a lot of young people perceive in twenty-first century evangelical Christianity. It certainly sounds passive-aggressive and antagonistic, to say the least.

In any case, it misses the whole point. You don’t have to accept the scientific consensus on the age of the earth, or evolution, or global warming, or gravity, or one plus one being equal to two, but you do need to make sure that your facts are straight about what you’re rejecting. There are a lot of YEC arguments out there that try to debunk straw man caricatures of evolution or dating methods that bear no resemblance whatsoever to what real scientists actually do or teach — cats turning into dogs or fossils being used to date rocks and rocks being used to date fossils, for example. When that kind of cluelessness gets combined with Pharisaical denunciations of “compromisers” and the like, the levels of hostility being portrayed go absolutely nuclear.


(Phil) #17

Excellent point James. It is not the disagreement that offends, it is the misrepresentation. I’m sure that goes both ways also. In addition, the literalist camp sees it as an attack on scripture, and the evolutionist camp sees it as an attack on the character of God.


(Christy Hemphill) #18

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