Science in Christian Perspective
Putting Things in Perspective
Wilbur L. Bullock
Durham NH 03824
From: PSCF 40 (June 1988): 65.
In the early chapters of The Mustard Seed Conspiracy, Thomas Sine summarizes the urgent problems facing humanity in the last two decades of the twentieth century. After illustrating the problems (hunger, injustice, war, etc.), he considers Christian response within the framework of three options. First, is the great escape of extreme, pessimistic eschatology whose proponents are content, even jubilant, to see things go from bad to worse. Second, is the secular agenda of the liberals, who are optimistically confident that human efforts will solve the problems. Third, is the American Dream/Religion of America response of those who buy into the consumerism and the nationalism of our culture. Certainly, as we view the political and economic climate of this election year we see much evidence that biblical Christianity has become equated with the "American Dream" in the minds of many evangelicals. But the challenges of world hunger, poverty, and injustice cannot be dismissed that glibly. We need to listen to the Old Testament prophets and to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We need to humble ourselves before God, our Creator and Redeemer, and ask: "What would you have me do?"-not for myself or even for my country, but for the sin-sick world around us.
The theme of our 1987 ASA Annual Meeting was "Global Resources and the Environment. " Our keynote speaker was Vernon Ehlers, Michigan state Senator and former physics professor at Calvin College. He reminded us of the practical, political realities of dealing with environmental problems with justice and compassion, with concern for people, their jobs, and the environment. One of the problems that has to be faced is the careful, long-term balance between ecology and economics, between environment and employment. Fred Van Dyke, the author of the lead paper in this issue, discusses "Planetary Economics and Ecologies" in the light of these global problems, and emphasizes the need for a theological evaluation of economics in the light of the obvious reality of over-population, hunger, and environmental deterioration.
Walter Bradley discusses some of the problems of the origin of life in the light of the laws of thermodynamics. He takes issue with both those creationists who claim that "the Second Law of Thermodynamics precludes a naturalistic origin of life," and with those evolutionists who see "no thermodynamic problem with the origin of a living system from simple compounds."
Vladimir Vukanovic discusses some of the "opposite general directions" as seen in life and death, joy and sorrow, good and evil. He emphasizes that opposite directions are associated with slower but more varied development than in a one-direction system.
Phillip Eichman gives us an informative biographical and historical discussion of Michael Faraday, with particular emphasis on Faraday's religious convictions and the people-especially John Glas and Robert Sandeman-who influenced him.
A second installation of our layperson's insert, SEARCH: Scientists Who Serve God, centers around the witness of long-time ASA Fellow Vernon Ehlers and his important scientific contributions to the field of audio engineering. (Please remember that extra copies of each issue of SEARCH can be ordered from the Ipswich office of ASA for personal distribution, study groups, or educational purposes.)
William Cobern discusses the integration of faith and science learning, and reminds us that science is tentative. Certainly, scientists who write and talk as if they know all the important truths, as well as Christians who worry about the latest scientific threat to Scripture, need to remember this.
Richard Arndt reminds us of some basic misconceptions regarding the supposedly antagonistic roles of science and faith. These misconceptions are still prevalent with those Christians who dogmatically assert that their "literal interpretation" is the exclusively correct one. He concludes with a list of dictionary definitions of key words in the science/faith debate area.
Many of our controversies center around inadequate and sometimes inaccurate definitions. With this issue of Perspectives, Richard Bube starts a regular feature in which be will discuss the definitions) of key words in the science/faith dialogue. Clear definitions will not solve all of our problems, but they certainly could help to direct discussion to the real, in contrast to the imagined, issues.