Science in Christian Perspective
From: JASA 5 (September 1953): 10-11.
Several men with red bandannas tied over their heads were busily knocking bricks out of a store front amid clouds of dust. Shortly after, they were seen in amazing pantomime postures walking gingerly down the sidewalk and closer inspection disclosed the fact that they were carrying a large sheet of plate glass which was acting like the main sheet of a schooner in the brisk wind. It was October, 1945. World War II activities were fast declining as the Japanese had but recently capitulated. Bricklayers and carpenters were almost as hard to find as the materials needed for the renovation, but quite obviously these men had their eyes on a goal far beyond the immediate job of revamping a former lodge hall. This was the start-at least the first outward physical manifestation-of the founding of the Moody Institute of Science.
.Quite typically, the indefatigable leader in the dusty job of brick breaking was the Director of the newly formed organization, Dr. Irwin A. Moon, the man with the IDEA. But ideas without a lot of this sweat and toil are just theoretical entities of only passing interest. As early as 1937 Irwin Moon was engaged in nationwide lecturing with his SERMONS FROM SCIENCE equipment, talking on a beam of light, allowing six-foot sparks to jump from his fingertips as he stood atop a million volt-transformer. More than just a fascinating display of the marvels of a modern scientific age, Moon had a real purpose behind it all. Concerned by the way the prestige of science was leading the world into a materialistic philosophy which left no room for the omnipotent God he loved, he used these scientific experiments to demonstrate the reliability of the Scriptures, the reality of God, and to provide a foundation upon which the Gospel of Christ was presented with great earnestness and sincerity. Thousands came to a saving knowledge of Christ through this unique ministry. A considerable proportion were those who harbored great prejudices against the church and preachers in general but who, coming to these demonstrations in civic auditoriums and other neutral gathering places, were reached through the scientific slant.
Eight years have passed and the SERMONS FROM SCIENCE idea has reached into the most remote corners of our earth. Since the founding of the Moody Institute of Science laboratory, Dr. Moon has not been able to continue his lecture-evangelistic work, although two other men, George E. Speake and G. Keith Hargett, each have their own array of demonstration equipment and are active in this phase of the ministry.
While presenting his lectures at Military bases during the war, Dr. Moon was deeply impressed by the way raw recruits were changed in a few months to well-trained military men through the lavish use of training films. Training units that had taken many days were reduced to a matter of hours, with better trained men as a result. Why not put SERMONS FROM SCIENCE on film instead of continuing on a one-man basis?
This vision has become a reality as the sixth, SERMONS FROM SCIENCE film, "The Prior Claim," is released this fall. "God of Creation," made from footage Dr. Moon had shot in the upstairs portion of his home before the founding of the laboratory, was the first motionpicture assembled by the newly formed organization. "God of the Atom," followed shortly after the first Bikini tests. "Voice of the Deep" told of the fish noises in, the "silent" deep, and "Dust or Destiny" and "Hidden Treasures" followed.
The IDEA caught on throughout the world. Today under the direction of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, the parent organization, the films are used in 62 countries in some 15 different languages. In these languages, 23 foreign versions are available while at this writing 19 more are in process. In New Zealand each of these films has been shown to every secondary school student. In England, pioneer work was done in showing the films in military groups and industrial factories; both areas being large users of the films in this country today. In the U. S. military, there are about 1,000 prints of these films in active use in character guidance and other programs. The films are not available for sale in the usual commercial sense of the word. However, missionaries, school film libraries, and the military can obtain copies of the film under certain conditions at print cost. The Moody Bible Institue carefully guards the distribution of these films, and every decision is in the direction of making it an effective ministry rather than a business.
A logical question then is, "How is this work financed?" The answer is simple: by the - gifts of thousands of Christian. people across the country who see in this ministry an effective evangelical tool to reach young people nurtured on scientific lore and steeped in scepticism.
Moody Institute of Science has one of the best equipped 16mm motion picture production facilities in the world, especially as pertains to the production of specialized scientific films. These facilities have been built in the MIS shops, in large measure from war surplus equipment. Sound recording is done on 16mm magnetic machines throughout all of the early production steps. Sound stage, film editing, release printing, photomicrographic laboratory, still photographic laboratory, art department, offices and machine and electronic facilities are encompassed in the 25,000 sq. ft. of the renovated three-story brick building. In addition to this, considerable space is devoted to vivarium rooms where the plants and animals under photographic study are maintained. Approximately a million feet of color release print is produced each year. All aspects of film handling are done within the confines of the laboratory walls except the actual processing of the color film.
The "secret weapon" of Moody Institute of Science, however, is not in bricks, or microscopes, or shiny recording equipment; it is in the tightly-knit group of men and women bound together in sacrificial devotion to the high Christian calling of spreading the Gospel to the millions outside the influence of any church. Only a handful of people is engaged in this work; less than twenty at this writing. The small staff and small film budgets amaze Hollywood film producers.
The future opportunities before MIS are staggering. This scientific film material is in great demand in form suitable for classroom use and also for television presentation. Plans for the production of films for these specialized uses are now being made without curtailing the existing world-wide ministry based on the longer (usually 45-minute) science films.