Science in Christian Perspective
Recently President Eisenhower received a visitor at the White House. Radio-Astronomer A. C. B. Lovell, Director of Britain's Jodrell Bank station, reported to the President about the historic last days of Pioneer V, man's most successful deep space probe. The United States had launched Pioneer \1' expecting to follow its course by means of messages sent from its radio transmitter for about five million miles. One hundred and six days later the Jodrell Bank station still heard six-minute messages reporting the cosmic conditions through which Pioneer V was speeding. Its estimated distance from the earth was than 22, 462,740 miles. Truly this is a remarkable demonstration of the fact that this world and its inhabitants are now in the Space Age. (Tinte, 7/18/60, p. 52.)
Scientific laboratories of this nation as well as many other privileged countries throughout the world are producing new developments at a pace which, if plotted against time, would follow an exponential curve. Trinity, a project which exploded the first atomic bomb in 1945, has been followed by fifteen years of amazing progress in the atomic field at the Los Alamos laboratory. Here are some of the accomplishments of this laboratory during the past decade and a half:
Direct conversion -of reactor heat to electric power.
Development of remote control critical assembly systems.
Dr. Voskuyl is president of Westmont College. He received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at Harvard University. His work included research on heavy water with the Manhattan District, and teaching with ranks up through professor. He was dean of Wheaton College before going to Westmont.
Edward Teller gives special reasons to discuss and to seek peace since "we who have been so involved have to think about the consequences of our acts; not that it is given to any of us to control these consequences, but just in order to act with our eyes open."
(Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. XVI, No. 6.) Max Born expresses the opinion that "Mankind has been surprised by this technological development; his moral progress has not kept up with it and is today at an all-time low level."
But after this has come the U-2 incident, failure at the Summit conference, Castro, Polaris launched from the submerged George Washington, Echo I, and who knows what before the end of the first year of this new decade.
Thus, we have entered the Space Age and are a long way in it. Man's imagination is carrying him perhaps to the Age of the Cyborgs (Cybornetic organisms). These are the men whose body organs and systems are automatically adjusted for life in unearthly environments by artificial organs and senses. Whether or not the Orwelian nightmare will be upon us by 1984, or whether it will come much sooner, or whether in the Providence of God withheld entirely, must be the concern of each one of us.
Needless to say, we need educated people in a day such. as this. We need people educated in science to keep up the progress in order that we may successfully meet the competition of those who seek world dominion and to produce protective deterrents to a major conflict. Understanding men, wise in this scientific age, to interpret science and to provide leadership in this frightening dilemnia in which we find ourselves, by general agreement is our greatest need. At the same time we recognize that the most progressive society in the world is a democratic society. Education therefore must be widespread and all-inclusive. The debate in America is not where shall the leaders lead us, but where shall the educated democratic layman in his collective thinking bring us.
Everyone who has sat on a committee realizes the inefficiency of democratic action. The thought of democratic decisions made by the democratic process in an age -of split-second miclear missiles is appalling.
For example, the 1200-mile flight of Polaris at 12,000 miles per hour doesn't leave much time for anything.
Notwithstanding, we must educate and provide understanding of science. This has been summarized very well in a report, "Education for the Age of Science," issued by President Eisenhower's Science Advisory Committee from which I quote: "A democratic citizenry today must understand science in order to have a wide and intelligent democratic participation in many national decisions. Such decisions are being made now. They cannot be postponed for 20 years while we are improving our present education system so that its products will constitute a significant fraction of the mature voting population. There is, therefore, no escape from the urgency of providing high-grade and plentiful adult education in science, now, planned for those who are unprepared even in the fundamentals."
-\,Inch has been said and much could be said about the needs for higher education from sheer statistics alone. As in 1960 there were 3,780,000 students enrolled in higher education, in 1970 we must expect at least 6,376,000. This is going to require facilities and faculty and finance in a way which has never been heard of prior to this time.
One cannot help keeping an eye on our chief rival, the Russians, as far as education is concerned. They are, to be sure, training an army of scientists and technologists, but as reports Nicholas DeWitt of Harvard's Russian Research Center, they want no generalis,ts--only specialists. (Time, 7/18/60.) As for humanities, says Expert DeWitt, "the ax will fall." There is little room for humanities in managing an industrial state. United States educators may dispute the quality of Soviet training, but at the present time the United States is short of engineers, physicians, and teachers where Russia is not. DeWitt reports that Russia now spends as much on education as the United States though it is less than half as wealthy. "We will have to do much more for the betterment of our own education before it is too late."
To say that the world is "in a mess," to say that we are in the most desperate situation ever, would be the understatement of the day. If there is anyone who understands the seriousness of the times, it is Charles Malik the Lebanese diplomat who last year was president of the l3th session of the United Nations General Assembly. In a recent address he states, "The world is completely uncontrollable and there is absolutely no end to what can and should be saved. The dike of corruption cannot be plugged at every point because the points are infinite." He goes -on to say that as a result Christians at times get themselves overworked about the state of the world and are busy day and night trying to save the world. We must do what we canto be sure, but he says, "The heart of the whole matter is faith in Jesus Christ." In other words, we cannot expect to save the world, but what we can expect with the Lord's guidance and direction is to put one finger in one of the holes of this crumbling dike of corruption which seemingly may overwhelm the world.
Perhaps this is the place of Christian education even though it may be small-one finger in the right place at the right time in God's hands and for His purposes can be a means of salvation far beyond human expectancy. However, to look at Christian education as a finger in the dike reduces it to a purpose far beneath the dignity for which it was first called forth.
1. The Basis for Christian Education. Christian education is a command of God. God first set apart people peculiar unto Himself. He gave them this commandment: Deuteronomy 4:9 and 10-"Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children." In the same book: Deuteronomy 11:19-"And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." This is the commandment of God to His people. Hebrew parents and Christian parents have a parental obligation placed on them by God Himself. The author of Proverbs has given us this well-known admonition: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Through the Apostle Paul, the several members of the family have their admonitions. One of them is found in Ephesians 6:4-"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Colossians 3:21-"Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." In this day of juvenile delinquency, the best minds are seeking the cause and the cure. The delinquent parent must come into consideration as well as the child.
Usually there are questions raised when quotations such as these are presented as a statement of the basis of Christian education. -Can not the Christian be trained in the home and in the Sunday school; or perhaps, under released time or in the Vacation Bible School? We reply: This training can never be as effective as that done in a Christian school.
As speaker this year at Westmont in his baccalaureate address: Dr. Bernard Ramm asked these seventy young people: "What will be your thinking ten years from now? Will your mind have become secularized? Life can be lived in America from cradle to casket completely within the system of secularism." He pointed out that for most people work is secular; our social life is secular; our welfare institutions are secular; our marriages and burials can be secular,our educational community is primarily secular; our government is secular. Each one of us as Christians is in a battle arena in which we must choose life in the circumference of secularism or life with Christ. Public schools, wonderful as they are, contribute greatly to the secular mind. Even as we bear this message, a struggle is going on in Florida to remove from the schools the last vestiges of a Christian foundation, the public reading -of the Scriptures.
Shortly before his death, President Eliot of Harvard wrote: "Tens of millions of men and women apparently take no interest in any religious doctrine or practice. Their children are not baptized or christened.Children get no religious instruction whatever at home or abroad. They grow to maturity without knowledge of Christianity or any other religion and densely ignorant of the fundamental moralities and good manners. No such experiment on so vast a scale has ever been tried since time began as this considerable fraction of the American people is now trying, namely, bringing up their children without any religious instruction."
We have only to examine the average college student today to see the results of this experiment. Further evidence can be found in the records of the juvenile courts. Bernard Iddings Bell wrote recently: "Public schools and colleges are not antireligious; they simply ignore religion. Give a child twenty-five hours a week for nine months a year for 10 to 16 years. The child views religion at best as an innocuous pastime preferred by a few to golf or canasta." A definition of secularisin which I came across recently has shaken my thinking deeply: Secularism is "practicing the absence -of God." Every one of us could well ask ourselves, What per cent of our activities, our decisions, our thoughts are secular, that is, totally unrelated to God? If we were to indulge in a bit of self-examination, I am sure that we would be startled to realize the secular frame of mind in which many of us work. Those of us who are in Christian education, of course, have a far greater -opportunity of relating our thinking to God.
Jesus was put to the test by a young lawyer of the Pharisees who asked the question, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law" (Matthew 22:36) ? Christ gave the answer which depicts the way of life, the pattern of thought, and actions, the objective of intellectual commitment, which has never been equaled. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."
What does it mean to love the Lord with all "thy mind"? When I study chemistry, when I read in geology, when I seek to think through philosophy, when I sharpen my pencil on some mathematical calculations, I may well ask: Is God related to these processes? When I love Him "with all . . . [my] inind," the reasoning process, thinking process, integrating processes are all related to God. To the Christian with eyes -opened and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, history is the panorama in which God is outworking His plan; sociology is an application of that second commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighhour as thyself"; mathematics is a tool which the Lord has given us in -order that we might better understand and comprehend His creation. The geological periods are but confirmation of the statement in the Psalms, "As for man, his days are as grass.... For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone" (Psalm 103:15, 16). A nuclear explosion is a superb demonstration of the omnipotence of the Creator.
All of these concepts are part and parcel of Christian education, an attempt to follow in a small measure that command of God, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."
If we were to elaborate on the other portions of this commandment, we would point -out that the social life on the campus of a Christian college, as well as the academic life, the physical activity, as well as the intellectual, all components of a college -education, fail within the realm of this commandment.
Historically, education and in particular higher education in the United States was Christ-centered. Here is a quotation from the original Rules and Precepts for Harvard College (1643): "Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ and the Bible as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."
It has been interesting to make a study of the mottoes of some of the institutions of higher learning. I give a number to you:Harvard University: "Veritas"
If we were to take these mottoes literally in every institution, the emphasis on truth and the search for truth, hope in God, keeping Christ pre-eminent would lead us to believe that education today is committed to know the truth and the whole truth. We who are Christians recognize all truth as one. Truth cannot be compartmentalized. It is inconsistent to emphasize on Sunday one phase of truth, that of God and Hisspecial revelation, and on Monday within the framework of our secular world endeavor to think only man's thoughts after him. Somehow or other this concept still needs to be explored and developed far more than it is at present.
A motto on the Science and Commerce Building at the University of California in Berkeley reads: "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." The names of Galileo, Currie, Newton, Balboa, Morse, Drake, Agassiz, which are just under the cornice, are supposed to have brought us to this knowledge of the truth.
The Christian turns to his Bible, however, and finds that the statement is taken out of its context: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Revelation in God's creation cannot be separated from revelation found in God's Word. Those of us who are privileged to be engaged in Christian education find the tremendous challenge of keeping the whole revelation of God intact. It is overwhelming, intriguing, inviting, inspiring as no other motivation can be. This, then, is the basis for Christian education. Christian education is not just a finger to be placed in a hole of the dike. Christian education is dignified by the fact that it is one of the commandments of God to educate our youth in His name; that it is one of the highest challenges that we have-to think God's thoughts after Him whether in medicine, or history, or chemistry, or sociology; that it is a means by which in heart, in soul, and mind we can glorify the Lord. "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." The word "whatsoever" becomes all-inclusive.
2. Purposes of Christian Education. The purposes of Christian education are at least threefold: to serve the Christian; to serve the church; to serve the world. Examine any statement of objectives of any Christian college and you will find that basically the purpose of the college is to serve the Christian. Evangelization is part of the program, but if an educational institution limits its Christian program to an evangelistic emphasis, it has failed in a vital objective. The whole curriculum should be designed to take responsibility for the edification of the saint. justification is a work of grace by God. Glorification likewise is a work of the grace of God. Likewise sanctification is a work of grace by God. God can use the means -of the study of His Word, the communion and fellowship of the saints, the instruction by Christian teachers, giving Christ the glory in scholarship, in social life, and in co-curricular activity. Christian schools then are primarily for Christians. They are one of the strongest forces that I know to combat the overwhelming tide of secularism. Christian education meets the needs of the Christian in a superior way as far as his personal objectives are concerned, whether it is to find a wife or husband, to secure a good education, to prepare for a vocation, or to find purpose in life.
The second purpose of Christian education is to serve the church. I do not have in hand nor have I ever seen the per cent -of those actively engaged in the work of the church, such as pastors, missionaries, Christian education directors, Sunday-school teachers, Christian writers, and the like, who have had their training in Christian schools. I think such a study should be made. From the vantage point of the desk of a college president, the observation can be made that very few faculty people who are qualified for teaching in a Christian college come from secular schools exclusively. Workers in the church and in the area of Christ's kingdom come from Christian colleges, Bible colleges, and Bible institutes in numbers all out of proportion to those who come from secular schools.
A third purpose of Christian education is to provide people who will serve their fellow man in the world. Most of us from Christian educational institutions find that our alumni are not a good source of contributions and support to the college because they are in those service occupations for which there is small remuneration. This is not a mark against the Christian worker. It is a point against the Christian layman. It has been my observation, qualitatively speaking, that the more evangelical the institution, the more young people will be engaged in the lesser paid vocations. As one examines a list of educational institutions, one finds also that the less evangelical the institution, the greater the number who will go into medicine, law, business, and the higher paid professions. We therefore find that the basis of Christian education rests in the commandment of God, the teachings of Scripture. The purposes of Christian education are to serve the Christian, the Christian Church, and through these, the world.
3. Accomplishments of Christian Education. The accomplishments of Christian education are difficult to evaluate. Perhaps they would run parallel with the accomplishments of the small college in terms of what graduates are doing, how successful they are, the leadership they have been able to demonstrate. Studies of the small college reveal that the ministry, medicine, sciences, education, sociology, and these service professions have been entered by graduates of the small college far out of proportion to those of the larger schools and universities. Examples of such small colleges in the public eye are Hope in Michigan, Reed in Oregon, Wheaton in Illinois.
Results that can never be measured are the effect
on the lives of young people in the strengthening and
deepening of the life of the spirit, the Christian homes
established, the uncounted blessings to second and
third generations, to say nothing of the "spheres of
influence" of each person who has benefited by Christian education. There are many schools which as small
colleges have been a blessing to thousands. There are
others which as nominally Christian colleges have
helped many young people to develop into upright
citizens. And then there are a number of schools
which as genuine Christian colleges have earnestly
sought to put into practice the principles of education based on a
well-thought-out philosophy of Christian
How to classify these colleges-confining our thought to the institutions of higher education for the moment-is a difficult if not impossible task. There are perhaps as many shades of Christian education as there are denominations and splinters of denominations. One even hesitates to begin any kind of classi fication lest he be misunderstood. I would like to share a few samplings which I have taken to give some kind of idea of the place of Christian education in this country today.
According to the Education Directory 19059-1960 of the Office of Education of the U.S. Department of
Health, Education, and Welfare, there are in California:
8 branches of the University of California
12 state colleges
60 community colleges
21 professional colleges
1 proprietary college
4 Bible colleges
15 Roman Catholic colleges
13 denominational Protestant colleges
14 private colleges
Of these fourteen private colleges, only four might be called church-related even though they prefer to be
called independent. Occidental comes from Presby terian origin; Pepperdine from the Church of Christ;
Whittier from the Friends. Then there is Westmont, the only truly independent, church-related but related
to no church. How many of these are evangelically Christian? I would not care to judge, but including
the four Bible colleges, perhaps less than ten-and these by their own admission.
In another study to satisfy my curiosity, I listed all of the colleges which advertised in the June issue of
Christian Life and came up with the following summary:
23 Bible colleges and institutes, 9 of which are accredited by the Accrediting Association of
Bible Colleges and Bible Institutes
11 were not listed in the directory of the Office of Education
15 liberal arts colleges
6 accredited by their regional associations
7 denominational colleges
2 not listed in the directory
5 seminaries of which 3 were denominational and
This sampling is of course small but gives some basis
for the following generalizations :
1. Presumably all of the colleges which advertised in Christian Life take what may be called a creedal evangelical position.
Denominational colleges by and large do not advertise in such a medium, namely, an interdenominational evangelical magazine. The same issue of Presbyterian Life advertised twelve colleges, and of the twelve, ten were listed as Presbyterian affiliated colleges and two as privately controlled institutions. All were accrediated by their respective regional associations. In the Advance are listed twenty-seven Congregational Christian colleges and seminaries. I have never noted any of these advertising in Christian Life.
The number of evangelical institutions in this summary from Christian Life which are accredited is less than half, both colleges and Bible colleges.
Information from another source indicates that in California nearly 90 per cent of the students enrolled in higher education are in public institutions. From these statistics less than one per cent would be enrolled in what might be termed an evangelical institution.
We have been discussing institutions as being evangelical or not without stating what is meant by the term when applied to education. These are some of the hallmarks of such institutions:
1. A board of trustees committed to the evangelical position and doing everything in their power to maintain the original stated purposes of the college.2. A statement -of Christian doctrine subscribed to, by the trustees, the administration, and the faculty.
3. A president whose primary motive in furthering the college is that of seeking to embody every area of the college in a cohesive unit governed by Christian principle.
A faculty committed to Jesus Christ in their own personal lives and called to their profession with a sense of mission-the interpretation of their subj ect matter in the framework of the Christian world and life view.
A faculty basically committed to the evangelical position but given freedom to think for themselves to openly discuss problems as they arise in the several branches of science, philosophy, theology, and the other fields of knowledge, so that their students will be dogmatic on the essential of faith and practice but will be able to withhold judgment on matters of diversified interpretation.
The instilling of such qualities of insight, discretion, tolerance, and above all love should be one of the primary objectives in all teaching, curricular and co-curricular.
A student body who enroll in the college because it has a distinctive education-thoroughly Christian. They expect social, academic, athletic programs to be different from the secular or nominally Christian educational institution because the center of orientation is Christ.A constituency which is supporting Christian edu cation because of the conviction that this is an arm of the church for the furtherance of the Gospel in all walks of life and in every corner of the world. 7. Compulsory chapel, prayer in classes, standards of conduct, student Christian activities are but byproducts of the basic philosophy of education incorporated in such a Christian college.
4. Needs of Christian Education. The needs of Christian education are simply stated as the needs of all education today. They are as follows:
Many of us are thrilled with the idea of the proposed Christian university and will do all that we can to further its cause. The establishment of a Christian university with the rating of a Harvard or a Stanford would be one of the greatest accomplishments of this decade, not only in the field of education but in the progress of our western culture. A Christian university in the plan of God would be one of the greatest dynamic forces in holding back the "dike of corruption" as Charles Malik called it.
Thus, we have presented a limited picture of Christian education in the Space Age. If ever we needed men of God to educate students for God in the will of God, to accomplish the purposes of God, now is the time. May the indwelling Holy Spirit lead each one of us to a deeper experience of commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ with all of our intellectual, spiritual, and physical resources.