CHRISTIANITY, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Many people think the only way we're going to solve some of the massive problems facing society today is through better science and technology. While not a panacea, it's certainly worked in the past: countless predicted world-wide famines, resource shortages, and other disasters have been avoided because science and technology came to the rescue. Many people think we need to redouble our efforts to help deal with impending gargantuan societal problems. While Christians definitely reject any notion that science and technology will somehow "save" society, we still care about it very much, and we're not about to stand in the way of scientific and technological progress
Science and technology aren't a panacea. In fact, every new technological advancement brings not just a bevy of benefits, it also brings unexpected problems, even ones that have moral and ethical dimensions. Christians definitely need to be part of discussions with any moral and ethical dimension. But where in the past, the Christian church was very much involved in any matters related to science and ethics, the voices of Christians are being heard less and less in debates about science and technology, for a number of reasons:
Reason #1: we're increasingly perceived as anti-science and anti-technology, and Christian beliefs are anti-science and technology.
Reason #2: we're perceived as having a weak grasp of science, and not very good. In fact, some serious research found that. See http://www.npr.org/2016/01/14/463010075/researchers-probe-stereotype-christians-and-science-dont-get-a-long
Reason #3: the voices of non-Christians, who generally are much more supportive of science and technology, are louder and much more numerous than in the past. The majority of scientists today are non-Christian, and a very high percentage are atheists.
This is a huge change from the past. In the past, Christians were at the forefront of science and technology, with the majority of scientists identifying themselves as Christians; and while non-Christians may have rejected Christianity, they certainly respected Christian scientists. Not any more.
Assuming the assessment is correct, what's gone wrong? In short – Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection, first proposed in 1859. Where most scientists have strongly endorsed Darwin, Christians have often been reluctant, and sometimes downright hostile. According to Pew Research, only about a quarter of evangelical Christians believe in Darwin's theory. Ordinary Christians have become increasingly skeptical of science, and scientists have become increasingly skeptical about Christianity. Even worse, there is evidence that one of the key reasons young people are leaving the Christian Church – and leaving they are – is because of the perceived anti-science and anti-technology bias of Christians. Barna Group, the foremost polling firm amongst Christians, found this as one of the six leading reasons young people disconnect from the church.
If society is becoming increasingly reliant upon science and technology, Christians need to play a leading role in any discussion, and they need to find a way to prevent people from leaving because of science. The only way this can be done is by Christians coming up with a better answer concerning Darwin and his theory of evolution. What would that look like? I think it must meet the following tests:
- It must be fully consistent with, and preferably reinforce, the Christian Bible
- It must also accord with conventional science, meaning the science that both Christians and non-Christians agree upon.
Some would say, impossible! I disagree. This blog intends to re-look at the entire issue, with the objective of finding answers that meet the tests above. Some will say, that's already been tried and it didn't work! I'm not suggesting just rehashing old arguments. Instead, my proposal is to re-examine the entire issue:
- Not from the perspective of a scientist (because I'm not a scientist)
- Not from the perspective of a Biblical scholar (because I'm not a Biblical scholar). I am a committed Christian, and am an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
Instead, I propose to look at the problem as would an entrepreneur – because that's what I am.
So what possible benefit does that offer? Entrepreneurs tend to look at old problems – and this is an old problem – from new and different perspectives. One way they do that is by asking old questions in new ways, ones that might provide a different perspective. In the early 1980's, Bill Gates asked, why not put a computer on everybody's desk? I don't think anyone had ever asked that question before. At first, peopled laughed! You know what happened next.
So the starting point for this blog is, let's take a fresh look at Darwin's theory of evolution to see if we might discover something new. From there, let's keep asking unusual questions until we can offer Christians a stronger understanding of what the Christian Bible has to say about science and technology in our modern world. Christians have an important role to play in any debates about science and technology. Let's be prepared. But first, we need to come up with a better answer to the 150 year old enigma of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection. I hope you'll join me on this journey.