Science in Christian Perspective
Kenneth J. Dormer*
Department of Physiology
University of OklahomaOklahoma City, OK 73190
African Institute for Scientific Research and Development
Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa
From Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 51 (September 1999): 146.
As we enter the next millennium, many countries in the Developing World (the South) continue to endure hardships: economical, medical, political, and spiritual. Economic and scientific development issues are hardly considered by the populace when they are hungry, oppressed, or concerned about just plain survival. Science, in western thinking, is the answer to all ills. Yet, in the South, science has its drawbacks of high cost, delayed applications, small success rate, low understanding or popularity, and limited utility. Nevertheless, how do Christians in science address the biblical admonition of "loving our neighbors as ourselves"? If developing countries in the South can benefit from scientific and technological development, what is the Christian's role? Should one impose western ways and thinking into that culture or seek humanitarian ways of benefitting such people? Should the Christian in science equate "science and technology transfer" as a "cup of water" to be given in Jesus' name? Or, as in western thinking, does everything have to be a "win-win" situation? Such are the confronting questions the African Institute for Scientific Research and Development (AISRED) is challenging scientists with as Africa struggles to emerge from the poorest of the poor into self-sustaining nations where discovery and invention can be used to assist the hungry, oppressed, and unhealthy. The scientific modus operandi of developed countries has had little impact on Africa. Why? The Christian mission has had little demonstrable socioeconomic impact on Africa. Why? What is our spiritual and scientific responsibility toward undeveloped countries? How can we accept this responsibility?
What Is Science For?
For many scientists, science is a sacred cow. However, we need to ask, "What is science for?" Let us remind ourselves, first, that modern science is the basis of the social and economic prosperity enjoyed by developed countries. Although the public is sometimes uneasy about science because it frequently raises disturbing moral questions or deep concerns about food, safety, human and animal health, or the future of the earth, western (North America and Europe) governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually on scientific research and development. They do so because science and technology are essential to their national economies. This fact is perhaps too obvious to need pointing out to scientists. What may be less obvious is the fact that developing countries also require modern science and technology if they are to develop their own economies in order to meet the food, health, communication, education, and other basic needs of their people.
Secondly, as every scientist knows, science is of great intellectual value. Having an understanding of the world is good in itself. Moreover, for Christians and other believers in God, science reveals the unfathomable wisdom and power of the Creator. The rudimentary state of science in the Developing World (the "South") denies the people God's great gifts of science and discovery.
We believe that Christians in science, whatever their discipline, have an obligation to share the benefits of science with those who need it most, namely the peoples of the South. David Livingstone's famous call to western Christians to take Christianity, commerce and civilization to Africa is still valid, provided we understand "civilization" to include western science and technology and recognize that partnership must replace paternalism.
Active concern for the poor and disadvantaged is not only for those who happen to be interested in social ethics. It is the responsibility of every son and daughter of the One who reveals himself in Scripture as the God who loves the poor, provides for them, and requires justice for them. In his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus exemplified God's concern for the poor as "He went around doing good and healing" (Acts 10:38). Although we are saved by grace through faith, he links our eternal destiny to what we do or fail to do for the poor and disadvantaged (Matt. 25:31-46). This is probably because what we do, or fail to do, for the poor and disadvantaged is a measure of our love for, and identification with, the Son of Man and his concerns. God requires of his children both holiness and care for the poor and disadvantaged. James puts it this way: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). Note the order in which James puts God's two-fold requirement: holiness and care for the needy.
In this paper, we will first draw attention to the problem of poverty in the South. Secondly, we will review the status of science in developing countries. Finally, we will suggest what Christian scientists can do to spread the benefits of science to developing countries as well as to reduce the intellectual and spiritual "side-effects" of humanistic science.
The Problem of Poverty
Meaning of Poverty
Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ, using the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus, taught that poverty is not only a problem of income but also of hunger, disease, destruction of human dignity, and injustice.1 In addition, poverty is a question of obedience. In neglecting his duty to Lazarus, the rich man disobeyed the clear teaching of Moses and the Prophets. Recently experts have recognized that poverty is a multifaceted problem that includes inadequate income, food, healthcare, and education. A report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says:
Human poverty is more than income poverty--it is the denial of choices and opportunities for living a tolerable life Ö although poverty has been dramatically reduced in many parts of the world, a quarter of the world's people remain in severe poverty. In a global economy of $25 trillion, this is a scandal, reflecting shameful inequalities and inexcusable failures of national and international policy.2
Many will agree with a Colombian educator who says, "Poverty is criminal because it does not allow people to be people."3.
Devastation of Poverty
Abject poverty is widespread and growing in the South. A recent report of the World Bank states: "Poverty reduction is the most urgent task facing humanity today." It points out that although in the last twenty-five years developing countries have improved living standards, "more than 1.3 billion people in the Developing World still struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day, and the number continues to increase"4 (Table 1).
Three other indicators--infant mortality, life expectancy, and adult illiteracy--also show that poverty and underdevelopment are widespread in developing countries (Table 2). Poverty, however, is also a problem in developed countries, which in 1993 had 100 million poor and 37 million jobless people. Poverty is increasing in almost every region of the world. In the last decade, it has increased very fast in Eastern Europe and in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Now poverty affects one-third of the population, with 120 million people below the poverty line of $4 per day. By the year 2000, half the people in Africa south of the Sahara will be living below the $1-per-day poverty line.5 Probably well over 50% of the rural population do so already.
As UNDP notes:
children are especially vulnerable--hit by malnutrition and illness just when their brains and bodies are forming. Some 160 million children are moderately or severely malnourished. Women are disproportionately poor--and too often disempowered and burdened by the strains of productive work, the birth and care of children and other household and community responsibilities Ö The aged, a growing group in all regions, often live their twilight years in poverty and neglect.6
Causes of Poverty in Developing Countries
If, as Christians in science, we are to contribute to the development of poor countries, we must understand the fundamental causes of poverty and underdevelopment. The causes of poverty in the South are as many as they are complex. Often it is difficult to distinguish cause from effect. As an example, backwardness in science and technology are both cause and effect of underdevelopment. Six factors are fundamental causes of poverty in developing countries and they must be addressed if these countries are to overcome poverty and underdevelopment. These are: (1) bad governance; (2) an unfair international economic system; (3) rapid population growth; (4) backwardness in science and technology; (5) low educational levels; and (6) environmental degradation.
Bad governance is unquestionably the most important single cause of socioeconomic wretchedness in most developing countries. Autocratic, corrupt, and incompetent governments have mismanaged the economy, plundered public resources, and retarded development. In many countries, autocratic rule has required huge military expenditures. In addition, it has caused political instability, displacement of large numbers of people, loss of capital, loss of investor confidence, and demoralized populations who are only concerned with survival.
Corrupt government leaders collaborate with foreign corporations and other interests to siphon off hundreds of billions of dollars from poor countries to rich countries each year. The so-called "technical co-operation" projects are a common way in which poor countries are exploited. Financed by foreign loans and tied with strings attached, such projects provide the huge salaries and other expenses of mandatory foreign experts. These costs may take as much as 75% of the project funds, including bribes for government officials and politicians.7 Whether the projects succeed or fail--and they often fail--the country must repay the loan plus interest. Consequently, development does not occur and developing countries are saddled with crippling foreign debts.
In 1995, foreign debts amounted to about $226.5 billion for Africa, $404.5 billion for East Asia and the Pacific, $156.8 billion for South Asia, $216 billion for the Middle East and North Africa, and $636.6 billion for Latin America and the Caribbean.8
The enormity of these debts becomes clear when one considers them as a percentage of the debtor's gross national product (GNP). The percentages were: Africa, 81.3; East Asia and the Pacific, 32.9; South Asia, 30.5; the Middle East and North Africa, 37.3; and Latin America and the Caribbean, 41.0. The debts have grown dramatically over the last two decades and now exceed or are close to the total export earnings of these regions. For Africa, external debt in 1995 amounted to 241.7% of the exports of goods and service; for East Asia and the Pacific, 98.3%; for South Asia, 218.7%; for the Middle East and North Africa, 133.4%; and for Latin America and the Caribbean, 212%.
Who is responsible for bad government in developing countries? While national leaders must take the largest share of the blame, the North (developed countries tending to be in the northern latitudes) has played an important role in the misrule of many developing countries. For political, strategic, or economic reasons, northern nations have played a key role in creating and then perpetuating oppressive and corrupt governments that have impoverished these same countries. A classic example was the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), a country with enormous natural resources, but currently one of the poorest and least developed in the world. It is well known that Mobutu's oppressive and exploitative rule that spanned thirty years depended on the support of the United States, Belgium, and France. Government officials and politicians have been partners with northern corporations and governments in large-scale corruption, or "Grand Corruption" as one author calls it.9 To win government contracts northern companies paid bribes to national officials and politicians, some of whom reportedly demanded as much as 20% of the project funds. It is well known that northern governments, except the USA, either condone or encourage such bribery by allowing tax deductions for money used corruptly. An encouraging step was taken by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members and five other countries when they signed an agreement to outlaw bribery of foreign officials. Implementation of the agreement has not yet occurred.
The international economic system operates on the basis of unequal exchange between the North and the South (developing countries tending to be in the southern latitudes). Based on the theory of comparative cost advantage, this system was created by European powers to obtain raw materials in exchange for manufactured goods. The North continues to determine both the contents and the terms of the exchanges.
Trade barriers and control of capital goods, technology, and finance enable the North to control the international economic system in its favor. The result is net transfers of resources from the poor South to the rich North. An example was the net transfer to the West of $163 billion in debt-related payments in the period 1984-88.10 The annual net transfers amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. The Human Development Report states:
Global market restrictions and unequal partnership cost the developing countries about $500 billion-- 20% of the GNP Ö If this $500 billion were available to developing countries and well used it could have a major impact on the reduction of poverty.11
It should be pointed out that ruling elites in developing countries are major beneficiaries of the unjust international transfers and readily collaborate with foreign interests in exploiting their countries. Not many realize that foreign "aid" often benefits the "donor" countries much more than the "recipient" nations. An example is the United Kingdom's official aid policy of making a 40% profit through trade.12 Hancock in his book, Lords of Poverty, explains how international aid is used to exploit poor countries.13
The third major problem is rapid population growth. In many developing countries, the populations have grown rapidly since the end of World War II. This is especially true of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. This results in declines in the per capita GNP, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and food production, increasing unemployment, and disintegration of social services. Moreover, rapidly growing demands make it difficult for the governments to devote sufficient resources to development and maintenance of developments already achieved. According to World Bank, between 1980 and 1990, the average annual population growth rate in Africa was 3.0% whereas the GDP growth rate was 1.7%. In 1990-1995, growth rates for the population and GDP were 2.6% and 1.4%, respectively. Interestingly, the rapid population increase over the last fifty years seems to have resulted from improved health, education, and living conditions in the South that reduced infant and childhood mortality rates and increased fertility.
Consensus seems to be building that the way to reduce population growth to manageable levels is to lower birth rates by improving the quality of life of the people. This requires better healthcare, universal primary education (particularly for girls), improved incomes, and provision of social security. Human development will not only reduce population growth, but it will also equip people for productive roles in community and national development. Many now recognize that this approach is more effective than the more direct population control methods attempted by the North in poor countries. It is also the optimal ethical approach to a complex personal, family, and community matter. Aggressive promotion of contraceptives often hurts the moral values and cultural sensitivities of people and leaves them wondering about the motives of contraceptive promoters.
Fourthly, low levels of education are a major hindrance to development. In many developing countries, adult illiteracy is widespread, primary school enrollments are low, only a small percentage of the age group attend secondary school, and only a tiny percentage receive tertiary education. Also, education standards are generally low. Naturally, low levels of education are inextricably related to backwardness in science and technology. In the modern world, education, science, and technology are absolutely essential both to socioeconomic development and to the provision of basic services, such as healthcare, telecommunications, and transport. No nation can develop or adequately provide such services without sufficient capacity for science and technology.
Finally, environmental and natural resource degradations are widespread in developing countries. Poverty is the main cause of these degradations, although ignorance and greed are also important factors. Demand for fuel wood (by far the most important source of energy) and building materials, overgrazing, and cultivation in marginal lands have caused extensive damage. Rapid growth of urban populations lead to crowding, poor sanitation, pollution of water supplies, and disease. Poverty and environmental degradation form an ever-widening vicious circle.
The State of Science in Developing Countries
Although science and technology are essential to socioeconomic development, they hardly appear in discussions of development in developing countries. Certainly many northern Christians do not seem to realize that if the South is to overcome poverty and dependence on the North, they must acquire adequate capacity for science and technology. The development of science and technology in the South hardly features in the development agendas of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and northern governmental agencies. So long as science and technology remain undeveloped in developing countries, those countries will remain underdeveloped.
For decades there have been discussions about helping poor countries develop capacities for science and technology, but little concrete action has been taken. Instead, leading northern nations have built up their own research and development (R&D) capacities in such important areas as tropical agriculture and tropical medicine (which they continue to control). Thus, they continue selling goods and services to poor countries.
A review of the status of world science reveals enormous inequalities between the developed and underdeveloped countries. A useful indicator of the status of science and technology in a country is the expenditure on R&D. Table 3 shows R&D expenditures in developed and developing regions. As the Director-General of UNESCO notes:
Despite the almost universal acceptance that scientific knowledge and capacity are pre-requisites for socioeconomic development, it is clear that for many countries, governmental investment is not adequate to build or maintain a healthy, productive research community capable of contributing to national progress.14
A similar picture emerges when we consider the number of national scientists and engineers engaged in R&D, another useful indicator of the state of science and technology in an economy. According to the 1996 World Science Report, in 1992 the USA had 949,300 scientists and engineers engaged in R&D, that is 3.7 R&D scientists and engineers per 1000 of the population while Africa had 0.4 (Table 4).
Finally, let us consider technological production as measured by the number of patents issued. As Table 5 shows, developing countries produce virtually no intellectual property. This is also true of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Although developing countries have made considerable progress in the training of scientists and engineers over the last three or four decades, their numbers are still very small. The levels of science education are very low due to inadequate facilities, paucity of properly trained science teachers, and lack of equipment, books, and other resources essential to an effective science education.
It is sometimes argued that the South does not need to develop their own technologies because they can import what they require. Forty years ago, many industries, based on the theory of import substitution, were set up in the South as a shortcut to modernization. It is now generally agreed that the experiment was a failure. Most developing countries lack the capacity to select, use, or adapt imported technologies. Secondly, most of the world's technology is owned by developed countries for whom profit is the motivation, and developing countries cannot afford to purchase goods in the amounts they need in order to develop and offer essential services.
What Christians in Science Can Do
Christians who, in obedience to our Lord, desire to offer the "cup of water" (cup of science) to other Christians in the South can do any number of things. We would like to suggest three items for action: (1) interact with scientists; (2) oppose misuse of science and technology; and (3) promote science education.
Purposefully interact with scientists in developing countries. Interactions can take the form of letters or e-mail communications that stimulate, encourage, or provide new scientific insights so as to engage others in dialogue, questioning, or creative thinking. Such stimulation, like sending a state-of- the-art publication, gives encouragement to a scientist or teacher. Communications can lead to joint authorship, project collaborations, grant funding, and spiritual relationships that are both present and eternal.
The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) and the African Institute for Scientific Research and Development (AISRED) interactions have demonstrated science and technology exchange. ASA and AISRED first began to communicate and later collaborate, knowing that applied science can impact on the spiritual, physical, and economic health of Africa. Collaborative experiments, publications, funded grants, and scientific and spiritual friendships have resulted. As this relationship continues to mature, it is becoming a model for Christians in science who seek to form partnerships and combine talents for the good of humankind.
Consider the western Christian in science who is immersed in the greatest technological explosion the world has ever known. Why aren't more of us who embrace the Judeo-Christian ethic demonstrating unconditional giving of science, technology, and teaching to those in scientific poverty? Even the ASA-AISRED model is weakly viable, partially because the same pressures exist on Christians as on non-Christians in science: publish or perish and get grants to bring in indirect funds to departments. To those ends, collaborations with the South and sharing of research budgets is often frowned upon by western, bottom-line administrators, peer review committees, and departmental chairpersons. Promotion and tenure often are dependent upon the amount of money brought into one's department from grant indirect costs, rather than the excellence of teaching, research, and service to one's profession. Consequently, scientist-educators may spend three months of a year writing local grant applications simply for job security. Thus, the joy of investigation diminishes. Attitudes become tainted by ownership "rights" and privacy of ideas rather than extension and sharing with others. Yet when we do have the privilege of God-given discovery, enthusiasm abounds and we can proclaim as did Samuel F. B. Morse when he discovered telegraphy/ telephonics: "What hath God wrought!" Such proclamations could be shared as that "cup of science."
There are shortcomings in well-intentioned humanitarianism, even that performed in the name of Christ. Sometimes Christians in the West seek to influence another culture with an "our-way-is-best" or "instant-fix" mentality when, in fact, cultural change can do more harm than good. Additionally, creeping forces of secular humanism can influence humanitarian efforts, inadvertently harming the South. Productive North-South exchanges between Christians in science can be confounded by our own misperceptions of Christ's teachings or by hindrances from our universities, governments, and companies. For example, a contemporary threat to open exchange of scientific ideas and technology is the pursuit of intellectual property for financial gain, as seen in the recent explosion of molecular/ genetic patents. Secular viewpoints of the U.S. and European Union on intellectual property, technology transfer, and scientific exchange with developing countries are also colored by politics, business and trade attitudes and regulations, political ideologies, and religious convictions of their people. So, the West's attitude in intellectual transfers to the South varies greatly, from the purest form of giving--Christ's teaching of agape love that expects nothing in return, to the worst form of "giving"--expecting a greater return for the original "investment." Sometimes Christians today are more concerned about our "rights" than in doing what is right. This latter attitude can adversely affect our willingness to share that "cup of science."
Another reason we generally tend to give less of ourselves (and less through the church) to directly counteract poverty is because we often have relegated bureaucrats to take care of giving for us. Consider the secular "entitlement" programs in the U.S., formerly known as "welfare" for poor and hungry people. German economist Wilhelm Ropke wrote:
To expand the welfare state is not only easy Ö it is for all of us the most ordinary temptation to gain Ö a reputation for generosity and kindness. The welfare state is the favorite playground of a cheap sort of moralism that only thoughtlessness shields from exposure. Cheap moralism is anything but moral.15
Even the church sometimes allows programs or bureaucrats to handle all the poverty-related unpleasant tasks for us. But the size of a nation's budget is by no means an indicator of Christian compassion. To imagine that such shallow and self- gratifying efforts can eliminate poverty is shameless hubris, not charity and grace. Christians in science are in a position to avoid this temptation and have the unique opportunity to show that real prosperity is created from within, not by governments but with governments. Prosperity needs to be both created and redistributed. Sharing of scientific information contributes to both processes. In sharing science with poorer colleagues, we should take personal responsibility and not merely abdicate that biblical admonition to others.
A final reason science in the North is not a greater partner with science in the South is we have acquiesced to postmodern philosophies that devalue human life and set unreasonable limits to scientific inquiry. For example, extremists in the animal "rights" movement with over $100 million annual donations in the U.S. have dampened enthusiasm and even shut down some labs.16
Animal "rightists" harassed one prominent English researcher by sending fake bombs to Professor Colin Blakemore, a leading advocate for humane animal research. He was also assaulted on stage as he delivered a memorial lecture at London's Conway Hall and has previously had his windows smashed, his three children threatened with kidnaping, a bomb packed with needles sent to his home, and paint remover poured over his car. Many northern scientists have acquiesced to animal "rightist" demands. What message does our caving in to such philosophies convey to scientists in the South? How supportive are we on the sanctity of human life? Is science a friend or foe in this instance?
Oppose and prevent misuse of science and technology. Our second recommendation is to become intolerant of any form of bad science or abuse of science, in any country. As scientists avowing the Judeo-Christian ethic, when our profession lacks integrity, our silence is inexcusable. A conundrum in the U.S. is that while we are enjoying economic and scientific prosperity, our government seems to be concomitantly abandoning the ideals and ethics of the founding fathers, whose precepts made our country successful in the first place.17
The benefits Americans are experiencing appear to be phase delayed from decisions made decades ago. Sadly, such abandonment of Christian precepts also is having an impact on developing countries influenced by the West, and science has been implicated.
An example of misused medical science and technology involves the definition of human life as demonstrated by the continued U.S. governmental endorsement of the Roe vs Wade decision that legalized abortion and President Clinton's repeated support of the heinous partial birth abortion procedure. Partial birth abortion is a third trimester abortion where the baby's head is too large to enter the birth canal so the abortionist penetrates the skull and evacuates the (living) brain. The skull collapses and the (now) dead baby is subsequently delivered. Such grossly un-Christian attitudes toward human life are even reflected in U.S. international trade relations, human rights policies, and financial aid to developing countries, where food and assistance are tied to controlling live births. Kaufman wrote:
In February 1998, reports of a U.S.-funded campaign of forced sterilization in Peru found their way to the U.S. House International Operations and Human Rights subcommittee and the New York Times. [Peruvian] doctors are given sterilization quotas and rewards for sterilizing larger numbers of (mostly poor) women, and who are required to undergo tubal ligation as a condition of receiving food. David Morrison, Director of the Population Research Institute, stated that "the sterilization campaign is an outgrowth of the larger USAID [population control] program. They use the same personnel. U.S. involvement is obvious even to a casual observer, with the USAID logo displayed on billboards promoting the government's family planning program and on food bins at clinics run by PRISMA, a Peruvian non-governmental agency charged with eliciting sterilization in return for food.18
"There is no doubt USAID has tried to distance itself from the sterilization program, but the primary reason is because this is such an obvious violation of human rights," said Laurel MacLeod, legislative and public policy director for Concerned Women of America. Such procedures are in violation of a United Nations agreement that specifically forbids population-control quotas.19
At a 1997 press conference of the Population Research Institute, Kenyan obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Stephen Karanja noted that thousands of his people die of malaria, which can be treated for a few pennies, while U.S.-funded health facilities are stocked to the roof with millions of dollars worth of pills, IUDS, Norplant and Depo-Provera. He said:
A mother brought a child to me with pneumonia, but I had no penicillin to give the child. What I have in the stores are huge cases of contraceptives Ö Mothers come to me and I am helpless. I do not believe that Americans want their taxes used to hurt other people."20
In Plato's Republic, citizens were divided in this way: a few were made of gold, a slightly larger number of silver, and the vast majority of lead. The last had the souls of slaves and so were properly enslaved. Only persons of gold were truly to be to be treated as ends in themselves. For Christians, however, our God, who made every child in his image, has given worth and dignity to each of them, however weak or vulnerable. Jesus taught us in Matthew 25 that what we do for the least of people, we do for him. What we do not do for the least, we do not do for him. God identifies himself with the most humble and the most vulnerable.
Promote science education in developing countries. The future of science in the South rests in its students of the present. Our third suggestion is to promote science education through open communication, sharing of curricula, textbooks, equipment, computer-aided learning, and other techniques.
Christian educators in science have a fundamental advantage in the teaching and mentoring of tomorrow's scientists: the proper handling of truth. Communication of truth, a tenet of Christianity, is pivotal for scientific exchange to take place. It is the pursuit of truths (e.g. in physics, biology, or medicine) that is the basic job description for the scientist. Furthermore, communication of scientific discoveries (natural truths) is based upon trust, a character quality of the Christian. Scientists must trust each other in what is being professed or published otherwise the scientific process cannot function. Know- ing supernatural truth also has set Christians free from some of the encumbrances of science: mistrust, jealousy, dishonesty, and pride.
Another advantage of teaching future scientists in the context of Christianity is the belief in absolute moral truths like "lying is always wrong" and "with freedom I have responsibility." In contradistinction to Christianity, secular humanism professes there are no absolute moral truths. Philosopher Francis Schaeffer wrote: "If there is no moral absolute by which to judge the state [or culture] then the state [culture] is absolute." And, of course, the latter is not true.
As students are taught science, life principles, such as truth telling, mutual accountability, and freedom with responsibility, can be taught simultaneously. However, we must ask the question: "Can freedom with responsibility in science be effective in cultures that are devoid of personal and political freedom?" The answer is, "No." A. Hayek, 1978 Nobel Laureate, author, and one of this century's greatest defenders of free markets and the free society wrote: "Societies prosper only when individuals are free to pool their limited knowledge and to make their own decisions.21
Finally, Christian educators truly enjoy learning because the deeper we go into complex biological and physical relationships we get to see a bit more of God (Prov. 1:5). The love of learning, the excitement of discovery, and the willingness for delayed gratification are all character qualities of good scientists and, like faith, these are not simply taught but also are "caught."
In summary, it is the combination of personal freedom, unconditional love of our neighbors, faith in one's God-given abilities, and an applied scientific knowledge base that can lead to prosperity in developing countries. Government ideologies can help or hinder.
Early U.S. triumphs in technological innovation sprung from the moral codes and disciplines of religious commitment and faith and not a culture of secular rationalism.22
If resources alone were the key to wealth, the richest country in the world would be Russia because of its abundant supplies of oil, gas, platinum, gold, silver, aluminum, copper, timber, water and fertile soil.23
Other forms of totalitarian collectivism, like communism, presuppose that a human is solely a creature of society, and that heaven on earth may be achieved through more and better central planning. In this vision, there is no room for the free, responsible individual with a God-given soul. Ideal socialism truly seeks to help poor people. Unfortunately, neo-socialism can be based on a false premise of human nature, and can stifle the conditions of opportunity, creativity, and initiative that make it possible for societies to prosper.24
Triumphs in science and technology can occur within developing countries if exploitation from without and corruption from within do not economically hinder these triumphs. Christians in science in the North can foster development in the South by sharing that "cup of water" of science and education, expecting nothing in return.
The guiding principle in any attempt to create a world of free [peoples] must be this: a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. Economic development through science and technology is dependent upon this freedom and character qualities like diligence, industriousness, prudence, reliability, fidelity, and conscientiousness. It is not material resources but all of these Godly virtues exhibited through science and business working together that constitute what we call the technology market place, that which leads to prosperous economies.25
1 Kinoti, G., Hope for Africa and What the Christian Can Do (African Institute for Scientific Research and Development, 1994).
2 United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report (Oxford University Press, 1977, 1992, 1993).
4 World Bank, Poverty Reduction and the World Bank (World Bank, 1996).
6 United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report (Oxford University Press, 1977, 1992, 1993).
7 United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report (Oxford University Press, 1993).
8 World Bank, World Development Report (Oxford University Press, 1997).
9 G. Moody-Smith, Grand Corruption (Worldview Publishing 1997).
10 The South Commission, The Challenge to the South (Oxford University Press, 1990).
11 United Nations Development Programme. Human Developmentt Report (Oxford University Press, 1992)
12 BBC World Service radio discussion, December 1992.
13 G. Hancock, Lords of Poverty (Mandarin Paperbacks, 1991).
14 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, World Science Report (Paris: UNESCO, 1998).
15 Michael Bauman, "The Dangerous Samaritans: How We Unintentionally Injure the Poor," Imprimis (Jan. 1994) 4.
16 Foundation for Biomedical Research, "Activists turn up heat in England," FBMR News 15:2 (1998).
17 M. Novak, "New Vision of Man: How Christianity has Changed Political Economy," Imprimis 24:5 (1995); and R. Reed, "Religion and Democracy," Imprimis 25:4 (1996).
18 M. Kaufman, "The Depopulation Bomb," Citizen 12:5 (1998).
21 "F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944).
22 G. Gilder, Wealth and Poverty (New York: Basic Books, 1981).
23 M. Thatcher, "The Moral Foundations of Society," Imprimis 24:3 (1995).
24 K. Y. Tomlinson, "Freedom's Victory: What We Owe to Faith and the Free Market," Imprimis 20:12 (1991).
25 F. A. Hayek, "Coping with Ignorance," Imprimis 7:7 (1978).