Yesterday, I brought a message that has been on my heart for two years at least. It was a message that I’ve wanted to bring for a long time, but one that I’ve been afraid to address. Furthermore, even though I delivered the message yesterday, I still worry about whether I said what needed to be said or not.
As a result, I’m going to share a few blog posts here about all of the things I tried to address in the message and also talk about the things I failed to address. Also, if you have questions for me regarding any of this, you can post them in the comments or feel free to contact me directly through this site or my Facebook Page.
Having been raised in a Christian home, going to a Christian school, specifically a predominately white, evangelical school, I learned a lot of things from that perspective, and though most of what I learned was the same stuff other students in other schools learned, I was also taught to have a deep suspicion for anything that came from the world of science. On many occasions, I was taught something that went like this: Secular scientists believe this, but we know better because scientists who believe the Bible do better science than other scientists.
Here’s just one example.
When I was in sixth grade, I had a teacher who gave us a bunch of reasons to believe the Earth had to be less than 10,000 years old. Before that moment, I had no problem with the idea that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, but in that class, he told us the earth was only 6000 years old according to the Bible, and that good scientists knew so. He gave us a number of proofs. He said that floods could create canyons quickly, that volcanoes could create fossils quickly, that radiometric dating was inaccurate and error-prone, but the proof I remember most vividly was the one about the size of the sun.
He told us that the sun was burning its fuel at a fixed rate, that we could measure it, and that the sun was therefore shrinking at a certain amount per year. I can’t remember what he told us, but I remember him saying that because of the annual shrinking, we could extrapolate back in time and conclude that 10,000 years ago, the sun would have been so big that life on Earth would have been impossible. Therefore, according to him, this one fact proved that life on Earth had to be under 10,000 years old.
That class amazed me! I remember it vividly because I loved learning that. I have always loved science, and I loved learning that scientific fact. A shrinking sun!? How amazing!
Unsurprisingly, when my children were in high school at a local Christian school just a few years ago, this very same proof was used at one point to teach them that the Earth was young!
Do a search on the shrinking of the sun, and you’ll see Young Earth Creationists are still talking about it!
However, you’ll also see that pretty much only Young Earth Creationists are still talking about it. The original claim was made back in 1979, and it was quickly debunked by further investigations that showed measurement errors in the original paper. Furthermore, what has been well-supported is that the sun is actually growing hotter and larger as it ages!
But if the claim was debunked in the early 80’s, why was I learning about it in 1986? Why were my kids hearing it in the late 2010’s? Why are Young Earth Creationists still using it today?
All of this illustrates the love-hate relationship Christians have with science, any science that seems to confirm a previous religious belief is loved while any science that seems to discredit it is hated.
It was not always that way, however.
At the end of Isaac Newton’s most famous work, Principia Mathematica, he wrote this (abridged by me):
…This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems… lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another.
This Being governs all things… The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect… He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things and knows all things, that are or can be done… we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants…
Hitherto we have explained the phenomena of the heavens and of our sea by the power of gravity, but have not yet assigned the cause of this power. This is certain, that it must proceed from a cause that penetrates to the very centres of the sun and planets, without suffering the least diminution of its force… But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phænomena, and I frame no hypotheses; for whatever is not deduced from the phænomena is to be called an hypothesis… In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction. Thus it was that the impenetrability, the mobility, and the impulsive force of bodies, and the laws of motion and of gravitation, were discovered.
Amazingly, Newton used science to increase his appreciation of God, concluding that distances between stars were truly immense, that other stars likely had their own planetary systems, and that what we didn’t yet know could become known by continued scientific inquiry! His was a mind that used scientific inquiry to increase his worship of God! He truly loved God with his mind.
However, Christians today are often unwilling to approach the world as humbly and honestly as this. “Wherever the evidence leads” might have been embraced by Newton, but it is not honestly embraced by many Christians today.
To be sure, my high school teacher would disagree as would the teachers my kids had at their school. They would say that “Christians are the only ones doing truly honest science because all the other scientists have an anti-Christian, anti-Bible, naturalistic bias or agenda.”
Therefore, in this one example, you can already see three issues Christians have when it comes to loving God with our minds:
- We tend to think that we do thinking better than unbelievers. This is a doctrine I call, “The Anointed Intellect,” but in reality it is simply arrogance.
- We tend to think that people who disagree with us must be either deluded or have an ulterior antagonistic motive. Those who aren’t with us must be against us or at least deceived by others who are against us.
- When something we think is challenged, we keep looking for ways to confirm our previous thoughts instead of simply changing our minds.
In the next few blog posts, I’m going to address all of this, and I’m going to invite you to join me in embracing a love for God that fully employs the mind he gave you and humbly honors the minds he gave others too.
God gave you your mind, and he wants you to love him with it not by limiting it, but by using it well.