Science in Christian Perspective
Putting Things in Perspective
Wilbur Bullock, Editor
From: JASA 38 (December 1986): 225.
"Complexity bewilders and discourages. Simplicity has a seductive beauty. (Un)fortunately, neither God, nor His universe are as simple as we are. " These concluding words of Dave Wilcox's paper in this issue,"A Taxonomy of Creation," could sum up many of the controversies of our day. We search for simple answers in history, sociology, technology, biology, et cetera; but God, His universe, and all the creatures He has made-including us humans-are fantastically complex. Furthermore, our search for simplicity is often made with a lack of recognition of our creaturely finiteness to say nothing of our sinful condition which warps our judgment. In our pursuit of knowledge we Christians especially should be examples of godly humility and exhibit a real sense of awe for the world around us and its Creator. This issue of the journal includes several papers that emphasize this awe and humility.
Russell Heddendorf, a sociologist and recent ASA president, reminds us of some of the social phenomena involved in the rise of modern science and its relations with theology as both strive to relate to the modern world. He stresses the need for a return to religious values which can act as "plausibility structures" for the scientist and society.
Russell Maatman, a chemistry professor, presents, in a paper of special interest to fellow college chemistry instructors, a perspective which emphasizes chemistry as a gift of God. The complexity and the diversity of chemical phenomena are to be admired, not only for their own sake, but as reflectors of the glory of their Creator. In addition, such chemical marvels are to be used responsibly; human beings are stewards of God's workmanship.
One of the rapidly developing areas of computer technology is that of artificial intelligence (AI). Dennis Feucht, a professor of electrical engineering, gives us a careful analysis of such developments in light of recent mind-brain research. At a time when many people, including some Christians, are suggesting that Al developments could be dehumanizing or even satanic, such a careful consideration as Dr. Feucht gives us is of great significance.
While there are important scientific and theological issues in the ongoing creation/evolution debates, much of the problem devolves from careless and unscholarly use of emotive words lacking clear definition. David Wilcox, a biologist and chairman of our Creation Commission, attempts to sort through some of these terminology difficulties in a way which at least makes it clear that a simple, dogmatic "creation or evolution" position is gross oversimplification.
Many observers of western society have described the numerous ways in which we have been losing our sense of community and the awesome results of such a loss. Jerry Bergman surveys, as a sociologist, the concept of community as it can be applied and misapplied in society and in the church. After examining the distorted application of community in the cults, Dr. Bergman reminds us of the importance to the church of a sense of oneness.
Analyzing the concept of community with particular concern for the disruptive tendencies within current evangelical Christianity, Donald MacKay, a British neuroscientist, warns us of the dangers of our separation from fellow evangelicals with whom we disagree. His plea for direct, prayerful confrontation--as iron sharpens iron"-needs to be heeded at all levels of evangelicalism, including the science/theology interface.