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February 18, 2022 12:01 am
Do you have to oppose science in order to be a Christian? Today, W. Robert Godfrey explains that Christianity has never been the enemy of science--but science has its limits.
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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind for increasing numbers of people. Science is beginning to be the real explanation of who we are, why we live.
What's the meaning of life for many people in the 19th, 20th, 21st century science will become the great authority. Science will be revered over the centuries, the church is been shaved by internal and external influences today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. Robert Guthrie focuses on the letter you will help us see otherwise of scientific thought in the late 19th century affected the church in a radical way all week we've been airing selected messages from Dr. Guthrie serious survey of church history. Dr. Godfrey has said that too many in the church today don't know their own history and therefore don't understand the factors that went into making the church as we know it today. That's why he taught the series and it's my highlighting portions of it this way let's try Dr. Godfrey know the lesson entitled Christianity and science. The rise of natural science.
The rapid advance of natural science in the West that has led to so many remarkable accomplishments in our time.
Whether we think of astronomy or medicine. So many things that have changed that development of science really began in the 17th century moved on into the 18 century and began to develop an even more rapid pace in the 19th and of course 20 centuries in the 17th and 18th century Christianity and the developments of natural science were seen as completely compatible and friendly. Indeed, many of the finest scientists of that. Were Christians. Some of them even clergyman and sell the notion that there is a necessary or inevitable opposition between Christianity and science is just a false dichotomy of false opposition. Christianity has never been the enemy of science is never been the enemy of learning.
It is never been the enemy of an exploration of God's universe certainly leaves Protestantism has never been an enemy of science in that sense. But as the 19th century war on explorations in science seem to be developing in ways that conflicted with traditional Christian understandings of the Bible and that's where tension between natural science and Christians began to emerge.
Although recent studies of the war between religion and science in the 19th century have revealed something very interesting that the war was initiated from the side of the scientists, not from the side of the theologians are by and large in the 19th century Christian theologians continue to believe that they could have friendship with science and that science would not develop in ways that fundamentally undermine Christianity, but increasingly there were scientific leaders and thinkers who were themselves anti-Christian and began to use their scientific convictions in opposition to Christianity. So when your friends tell you there is a war between Christianity and science. Depending on how antagonistic you want to be and obnoxious how you can smile and say yes there is a war and science started it.
Christians should still to this day believe in science and believe that ultimately, science can never come to any conclusions at fundamental odds with what God is revealed. All truth is one all truth is God's truth. We are not opposed as Christians to science we are opposed to the claims of scientists that they have reached a final truth that finally disproves the truthfulness of the Bible because if you study science in the last 400 years and you study theology in the last 400 years who's changed.
Most do you think not the theologians it's the scientists who keep changing, and each time they change they assure us that they know absolutely what is true. There was a time when so I just knew absolutely that the atom was the smallest component of material reality and the newfound things inside the outer, those were the smallest things and other things inside those things. And with the cold. I'm sure some of you do. I have a theory is only a theory, it's a speculation God has created this universe and is made of finite, but he's also made it finite in a way that finite creatures can never reach the edges no matter how far out we look will never reach the edges of the universe. No matter how far back we look will never find the beginning of history, no matter how far in to the atom.
We look will never find the smallest material. I think God's playing games with us, not mean-spirited games but again that reminds us we are finite and were part of the finite creation and there's no getting out and it should lead us to humility. It should lead us to investigation, it should lead us to a fascination with the world that God is made it's right to be fascinated with the stars and learn all that we can learn, but it's God's universe is finite, but were not getting out. Just a theory, but I'm entitled to my theory, but in the 19th century. This this war begins to emerge gradually at first and then with more ferociousness in part because for increasing numbers of people. Science is beginning to be the real explanation of who we are, why we live. What's the meaning of life science is beginning to take on a philosophical component that is becoming explanatory, not just of a narrow area of natural knowledge, but of what life is all about and increasingly for many people, and 19th, 20th, 21st century science will become the great authority. Science will be revered and again I think our Christian responses not to despise or disparage science but to say doesn't science have limits as to what it knows. The fact that you're a brilliant scientist does not guarantee that your brilliant philosopher about the meaning of science beyond its empirical reality will what are the areas where science begins to develop in the 19th century to begin to challenge Christians and challenge some received aspects of Christian truth. The first area we've Artie talked about the so-called science of biblical criticism, the so-called science of the study of the Bible to find out where it came from, how it was put together how it's composed that was all proclaimed to be an entirely scientific enterprise will be able to evaluate the styles of different writers of people in the Bible and that will tell us where different hands have been involved in the creation of the Bible, it will show us how the Bible has evolved how books of the Bible have been pasted together. It was all claim to be a very scientific endeavor, but it didn't really have the essential characteristics of science of of real ways of external evaluation as to whether these claims by very learned scholars were actually true or is think back on Abraham Kuyper is a student at the University of Leiden. He said he went to lectures, a very distinguished Prof. of the New Testament, professor school and one year. Professors called and said that the book of John was written by the apostle John, and was a reliable witness to what Jesus said and taught two years later he heard lectures by the same professor school and he said the Gospel of John was not written by the apostle John is has no reliable witness value to what Jesus taught and taught.
He said where's the science there that this same man within two years can say the opposite things about the Bible. He may have those opinions but they're not really scientific. They're not really verifiable. They're not really certain so biblical criticism, however, Rosen is accepted far and wide as it is sort of proven as definite as assured and when conservative scholars over and over again showed that these arguments really are not very persuasive not very convincing conservative scholarship was regularly dismissed as prejudiced.
Somehow the critics of the Bible were not prejudiced but the defenders of the Bible were purged. So there's one scientific enterprise that shook the confidence of Christians not so much that they were shaken personally and their confidence in the Bible but it led them to worry about what was happening in the world and happening to the church and whether things were going downhill for the church rather than uphill and then secondly we can think of the impact of Charles Darwin in 1859, Darwin published his the origin of species by means of natural selection, and in 1871, he published the dissent of man and this begins the long efforts of biology to prove that human beings arise by natural selection and evolution from lower species and begins the whole question and conflict as to whether the early chapters of Genesis are reliable with the story of Adam and Eve is reliable is man created from the dust of the earth in the image of God or is man descended as it was often put from the monkeys whose right here. And of course the challenge that Darwin and Darwinism presented is that not only is the Bible wrong but now we have a fundamental different way of understanding who human beings are aware, not those created with an immortal soul in the image of God. We are those who are just animals more highly developed animals in certain ways, but still fundamentally animals and as time went on, this vision of Darwin of natural selection of the survival of the fittest became not just a biological notion but became increasingly a social notion with really calamitous results in Western history. Now those who want to defend Darwinism and want to continue the attack on Christianity are often very hesitant to really face the historical reality, in my judgment everything I'm saying is, in my judgment I will keep saying that because you should be able to figure out this is, in my judgment, but I think many moderns are unwilling to face the fact that when Adolf Hitler came around and said, some races are superior to other races. That's really an effective social Darwinism, some races will survive and others will not survive as just evolution. Why should we object to that. One of the first things that Adolf Hitler did when he took power in Germany was to begin a program of euthanasia to kill off handicapped people in handicapped children. He had to stop it because parents didn't like that. There was out continuing witness in the hearts of people that even disabled people were made in the image of God, even disabled people had a value, they can't just be taken out and killed so that the master race might be stronger and purer, but don't think for a minute that part of the attraction of the message of Adolf Hitler wasn't that he seemed so scientific. Remember talking to a young man whose parents have been very pious Lutherans in Germany and with the rise of Nazism. He had gone off to the Hitler youth and he said we were overwhelmed with a sense we were the wave of the future facing the brave new world. We were being scientific are poor parents were just benighted caught up in the past we were modern people and I do want to say that all that is Darwin's full personally that if if you really embrace the notion the world just animals that it's a survival of the fittest that weaker species do die off over time.
How exactly do you answer the racists who insist that they are the wave of the future and supported by science. That has to be faced is a serious question. If there's no alternative.
In the course.
Part of what goes on here is a kind of determinism is you can determine your race. You can't change your race. You can just live or die. You can kill or be killed and and that's one of the really disturbing factors of a lot of the alternatives being offered to Christianity in the 19th and 20th century.
A lot of these alternatives are deterministic alternative that the prize of freedom is being taken away. It's ironic they hate Calvinism because of its view of the sovereignty of God. They get rid of God, but they don't maintain human freedom. They plunge humanity into an even greater loss of freedom and so that the sense that science is opposing the faith is undermining the Bible is changing our notion of few human beings are is is a big factor of the change in mood amongst Christians in the later 19th century and then there's Karl Marx, Karl Marx in 1848 with Frederick Engels published the Communist manifesto. There is a specter haunting Europe.
The specter of communism.
One wag late in the 20th century said there is a specter haunting communism, the specter of Europe, but here in the middle of the 19th century was this notion that there is this new social, political, economic movement. The movement of communism and in 1867. Marx published the first volume of his DOS copy tall, which was his view of history of economics and where history was going.
If Darwin was something of a biological determinist. Marx becomes an economic determinist. How is history driven where is history going.
It's driven by economics. I regrettably will know the call, Marx is nearly always right off a lot of human decisions are driven by economics, but not all. Not everything in an Marx's vision was not just that history is driven by economics, but it's driven in a particular way and to a particular outcome a particular destination and the societies will go through a definite inevitable pattern from the agricultural to the formation of capital to the overthrow of capital and the eventual introduction of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and therefore there is an inevitably revolutionary dimension to the movement of history and you know, in fairness to Marx.
His vision is somewhat utopian.
There's going to be this grand day coming when the all of us will share equally in the wealth of the nations and there will be freedom for everybody. This was the grand vision. This is what attracted so many people to socialism and communism in the 19th and 20th century.
They looked around and they saw so much economic inequality. They saw so much grinding poverty and they said there has to be a solution to this, there has to be a way to improve this and and the message of socialism and for some the more radical message of communism, Marxism really seemed to be the wave of the future and they were assured get on the bandwagon now this is inevitable. This is going to work out. It's going to be glorious and and again the reality fell somewhat short of the promise and what what became of the great communist experiment. Well, it degenerated into Stalinism. Adolf Hitler was not a prince, but Stalin was worse, Stalin killed millions more than Hitler killed and it was murder in the name of building this just equal society. But it's remarkably parallel to the French revolution that started with such ideals and descended into terror and in the dictatorship exactly what happened was stolen and the promise of social equality was betrayed, the party bosses have big cars and the good apartments and the good food and yet for a long time that that vision of Marxism gripped intellectuals in the West is one cynical friend of mine says Marxism is ceased to exist except in American universities, but there were many who even when they knew what Stalin was doing so well this is just part of that inevitable conflict of history that we have to work through the vision remains the hope remains and it'll happen because it's determined scientific study of economics and history assures us that this is what is going to happen and there were millions of people caught up in that vision. Just as there were millions of people caught up in the vision of fascism resting on a foundation of racism that we can come to 1/4 science that emerges in the latter part of the 19th century the psychology of Freud, Sigmund Freud, who assures us that what really drives human life is impulses from the unconscious, and if we can only explore the unconscious, we can come to understand the tensions within us between the id and the ego and the superego.
Where is Darwin and Marx gave a sort of mega visions of the movement of human history. Freud now was focusing on the individual what's going on in the individual mind and the good news. It's all your parents fault but but again the kind of determinism narrows supposedly for psychoanalysis you can gain a measure of self understanding. A measure of overcoming who you are what you been how you been formed, you can overcome the Oedipal complex in all the various things that operate within you, but there's still this sentence that it's not the open world. It's not the apparent world that really controls us and runs 06 it's the subconscious.
It's the unconscious.
It's forces that we don't see and fully understand is hard to believe how much Freudian language and in Freudian ideas have have seeped in to who we are as a culture Marilyn Robinson. Some of you may know her novels, Gilead and Lila. She teaches writing and she says she's mystified about how her students when they try to write something creative can't think of any way to talk about human emotion except in Freudian terms that's their only worldview and this is the science that has threatened Christianity. And I think it's fair for us as Christians to say is the world better off for Darwin and Marx and Freud is a better offer the kind of determinism that has been brought into many lives and doesn't modern anti-Christian man at some point have to face up to the millions and millions and millions who died in the name of these ideals, though there was talk about the checkered Christian passed the violence of Christian we are not trying to say we have no faults in our past, and it may be that we killed only hundreds because of technology but remains true, we didn't kill millions and millions and millions and millions and lead people to hopes of utopias that were never to be built.
Hitler was going to build a thousand year Reich. It lasted 12 years and nearly took down the whole of Western civilization with how we need a more effective historical apologetic for Christianity in our time. That's getting ahead of the picture are lecture today is just showing how these new forces of science brought to many Christians a sense our cultures out of control. We're becoming pessimistic and that led to new forms of Christian life and experience. We learn when we study church history that the cultural will be economic and the political have all play a role in how the church is grown into what we see today. It's important for us to keep that in mind, and to do our best to make sure it's the biblical that sets the direction for our churches. Dr. Godfrey is made clear. This week your and Renewing Your Mind and studying church history is no peripheral endeavor. In fact, it's vital this full series covers 2000 years of church history and would be happy to send. Part five to you for your gift of any amount you can make your request and give your gift online when you go to Renewing Your Mind.org or when you call us at 800-435-4343 Dr. Godfrey mentioned that a laundry list of men from the 19th and 20th centuries. In today's lecture, Darwin, Marx and Freud. Now they are infamous for different reasons, but they do have one thing in common.
They each tried to make sense of the world without a biblical lens and we see that being repeated today. Don't wait. We hurriedly get her ministries are doing everything we can to combat that by proclaiming teaching and defending the holiness of God in all its fullness to as many people as possible. When you support this ministry, you become part of the mission to equip future generations to know the God of the Bible.
So we thank you for your generosity early in the 20th century battle for the very soul of the church was reading one of the strongest voices standing for biblical truth but wanted J. Grissom matron will learn more about the stalwart of the faith Monday as we wrap up highlights of Dr. Godfrey series. A survey of church history here on Renewing Your Mind