Science in Christian Perspective



Putting Things in Perspective

Wilbur Bullock
Durham, NH 03824

From: PSCF 41 (March 1989): 1

One of the most impressive phenomena associated with the impact of disease on humans and on animals is the devastation that can result when disease strikes a previously unexposed, and hence non-immune, population. The corollary to this is that after such exposure there will be enough partially or totally immune individuals to ameliorate the effects of subsequent epidemics. In our lead paper in this issue, Stanley Rice gives us examples of adverse circumstances in the natural world and suggests similarities with God's role in human history.

Richard Bube discusses some of the problems that we face as Christians when we realize that "any increase in knowledge is potentially dangerous. " Professor Bube reminds us of some of the moral dilemmas presented in research areas such as in vitro fertilization, the ending of life, environmental problems, and weapons research. His major warning is that we avoid the pitfall of a religious pragmatism that fails to apply biblical teaching when it seems impractical.

A specific example of such a "crisis of conscience" in the medical world is given by David Schiedermayer, MD as he describes some of the problems of high technology medicine and wonders how we would apply such "treatment" to job. The ICU is one of many current ethical problems in which there is serious interest by both the American Scientific Affiliation and the Christian Medical and Dental Society. We need to continue our joint ventures in these areas of literally life-and-death concerns.

John Byl continues the discussion of the possibility of accidental occurrence" of life with a reexamination of Robert Newman's proposal (Perspectives, March 1988). Although he criticizes Newman's evidence, he agrees that "the probability of life arising spontaneously is extremely small."

Jim Neidhardt describes the roles of reason and faith in both theology and science. Both disciplines are forms of "faith seeking understanding."

George Murphy reminds us that the pursuit of science can be hazardous to your health. Scientists have been martyrs not only because their conclusions disagreed with the prevailing ideas of their times; working with radioactivity and infectious diseases can and has killed or injured many during the course of their investigations of the earth and the universe.

As a follow-up to Ronnie Hastings' discussion of the Paluxy "mantracks" (September 1988), John Armstrong adds further experiences with this sad episode in which overzealous, but probably well-meaning, people became involved in distorting the truth in order to defend "truth" as they had concluded it to be.

Raymond Seeger's biographical series on scientists and their religious faith continues with a sketch of the life of Benjamin Franklin, one of America's "founding fathers." SEARCH, ASA's insert for laypersons, starts its second year of publication with a look at Ann Hunt, ASA Fellow and industrial chemist.