Science in Christian Perspective



Human Responsibilty Viewed by a Theologian*

From: JASA 14 (September 1962): 84.

Since science has only proximate answers to ultimate questions, the basic tension experienced today is not one of science versus theology but rather one of naturalism versus theism.

We have seen that the psychiatrist should examine Christian faith because he is a scientist, a healer, a philosopher, and above all a person, with guilt, anxiety, conflict, and other personal traits. Similarly, all scientists are persons, and all persons are responsible to God.

The theological view on critical ethical decisions in science stresses above all, the fact that every decision involves obedience. This is a dimension which has an absolute character. It is impossible to avoid responsibility.

Certain theological assumptions are therefore basic. These include man's relationship to God as a creation. Because man is created, the reality of man depends on a priori conditions or transcendental reality. It is impossible for man to avoid this status. Man is either obedient to his Creator or he is disobedient, sinful. Neutrality is impossible. But this does not necessitate a rigid determinism, for such causality can exist only between the objects of creation. There is a relationship of men to God that goes far beyond observation and even beyond rational description and analysis. This is a basic article of faith.

This leads to the paradox of both absolute freedom and absolute dependence on God. Man as a slave of sin has lost his freedom (Romans 7). It is in obedience to God that a person becomes himself and gains his freedoms an autonomous being-the true or genuine ex istence which involves possessing eternal life. Thus it is truth that has made man free. Obedience is following God's purpose for the entire universe.

There are at least three significant areas of obedience First, God has commanded us to subdue the earth with the promise that, as we do so, He will bless us. Hi blessing is hence linked with man's scientific work. Ye all science is subject to human limitations or sin. There is a danger in making the means a purpose in itself.

Second, God speaks through me; I am God' addressee. Through God's encounter with me, the gos pel addresses me through Jesus Christ.

Third, man is incorporated into the eschatological community (church) as a result. The Christian is ir the body of Christ. He is therefore responsible to the entire Christian community. When we depersonalize the gospel, we pervert it. We must protect obedience We must safeguard Christian values and transmit then to future generations.

In obedience in our personal behavior as well as in the Christian community, we can rejoice in God's Word and Will. All scientists in this symposium have pointed toward this obedience.

*Condensation of an address presented at the 8th regiona meeting of the North Central Section of the ASA, April 7 1962, as part of a symposium on "Critical Ethical Decision in Science."

* *Dr. Rozentals is Professor of New Testament, Luthe Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.