Nor, on the evidence over the past several weeks, is it without serious and damaging consequences.
Indeed, it can be seriously argued and supported with all too abundant factual details, that evolutionary materialism-rooted secular humanism is in effect a quasi-religious establishment that is increasingly tyrannically and damagingly imposed on science, science education, law, public policy, and our civilisation at large by state power. So, when such advocates of a de facto establishment speak -- sometimes (as we saw last week), even from the pulpit -- in terms of defending our civilisation from the "threat" of Bible-quoting, "fundamentalist," potentially violent "theocrats," I find that their case unfortunately too often rings distinctly hollow.
So much so, that I often want to shout from down in the saw-pit below the log being wsawed into planks, as sawdust cascades uncontrollably into my eyes:
"Hey mon, stop! Stop!(Again, apologies in advance for those who will find this post painful or even possibly offensive. Please, consider carefully whether whatever may be clumsily put is sufficiently important that it must be considered carefully despite poor wording; even if it is painful to address what one sharply disagrees with. For, not all that is at least potentially right or helpful is agreeably pleasant or easy to deal with. And, if we are finite, fallible, fallen and sometimes ill-disposed to "endure sound doctrine," that may improperly bias how we respond to what is put before us.)
That plank in your eyes is blinding you to what you are doing!
Please, please, take it out; then, you can see to help me . . ."
A good place to begin is with a striking Bible passage David C Cooke [sp?] drew my attention to when I read his The Great Brain Robbery back in the 1970's. For, in making his closing remarks in his farewell epistle, the aged and about to be martyred Apostle Peter observed:
2PE 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this `coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.Here, Peter predicts that in the last days, scoffers will come, who will mock those who expect a Second Coming of the Messiah and associated eternal judgement before our Creator and Lord, based on their rejection of the concept that God intervenes into the order of the world in powerful, supernatural ways -- in creation, in redemption, in liberation and at length in judgement.
2PE 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2PE 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
2PE 3:11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Peter's response (in the face of his upcoming, long since predicted judicial murder) is to note that God's patience should not ever be confused with his absence or lack of interest in us or indifference to injustice.
In that context, it is very interesting indeed to see that at the time of the foundation of modern science, founding scientists sought to read God's book of nature, and to think his thoughts after him; offering their findings in service to man and in worship to God. A glance at Newton's now too often overlooked words in the General Scholium to that greatest of all scientific books, Principia, amply suffices to illustrate this:
Science as the very vestibule of worship!
. . . 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, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and 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, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler . . . And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most 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 . . .
However, Newton's very triumph of identifying apparent universal laws of nature that accurately summed up and predicted the mechanical behaviour of bodies on earth and in the heavens, soon enoutgh led other men of a different temperament to infer that this uniformity extends, lockstep, from origins to the remotest future.
In effect, the view that once there was an initial condition and associated motions, all the future in principle was contained in the inexorable, inescapable laws of nature was soon enough used to try to explain the world without reference to its Creator. In that context, Darwinian evolution appeared to provide a way to account for life and its forms up to and including man, without reference to an intelligent designer: natural selective filtering or culling processes acting on matter ordered by chance and changing under the necessity of mechanical laws seemed "good enough" to many.
Thus, we can now also see the cutting relevance of the Apostle Paul's observations in Romans 1:
20 . . . since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.Here, we see:
RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
RO 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator . . . .
RO 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
1 --> From the world without and our own mannishness within, it is sufficiently evident that we form a creation, complete with a moral order.This all sounds ever so sadly familiar as we look around us, astounded at the claims, arguments and demands being made al around us by all sorts of radical movements and their public advocates.
2 --> So, we have no excuse to reject these inner and outer testimonies and substitute images made to look like various creatures for the Author of Creation. (In Paul's day, such images were commonly found in temples, and were associated with various pagan legends. In ours, we can find very similar images in museums, in the media and in textbooks, associated with the name Science.)
3 --> Furthermore, once we exclude God from the order of what we call knowledge, we find our minds endarkened and that ourt passion spin out of control in slavery to ever increasing evil and perversions.
4 --> At its grim apex, this evil loudly demands that we approve of evil as though it were good.
Part of the response is obvious: we have to expose the now commonly met with imposition on the definition of science that is must seek out and explain only in terms of "natural causes" of what we observe about our world in the present an its origins. Causes that boil down to chance and mechanical necessity acting on matter and energy, so that intelligence can only be accepted as an explanatory factor if it is the product of such forces through a cascade of purposeless, undirected evolutions.
For, unfortunately, so-called methodological naturalism takes science away from being an unfettered search for the truth about our world based on observation, experiment, hypothesis and empirical testing.
Indeed, it subtly forces scientists -- on pain of damage tot heir careers and reputations -- to try to explain what we see from hydrogen to in terms of evolutionary materialism, instead of their being open to the full range of possible causal factors that have -- or even simply could have -- been at work in our world across the ages and up to today: chance, lawlike mechanical necessity, agency. (In particular, it arbitrarily shuts the mouth of the many signs of intelligent design in the world, from the finely tuned life facilitating order of our universe's underlying physics, to the intricate functionally specified complexity in cell based life, to the huge increments in information required to generate body plan level diverity in life, to even how we may best account for the credibility of the minds we have to use to even practice science.)
Another part, is that we need to see that we are inescapably moral. Indeed, we quarrel when we believe our rights have been violated. As C S Lewis and others aptly note, in so quarrelling, we appeal to our dignity and the binding nature of moral obligation: my right to life, liberty, reputation etc means you have a duty to respect my life, liberty, reputation etc.
But, where does such a dignified status come from, that the humblest and weakest of us may rightfully expect even the most powerful to treat us properly, i.e. justly and even kindly?
The only enduring answer to that is that we are all made in God's image, and so are endowed by our common Creator with inalienable rights.
Indeed, as we have looked at over the past several weeks, the sad record of the century just past is that once our civilisation walked away from that insight, ruthless chaos was loosed and resulted in mass murders on an utterly unprecedented scale; often motivated by a contempt for perceived evolutionary inferiors. [Just as was foreseen by Darwin himself or even by H G Wells.]
So, we must now turn to the question of reforming our view of science, setting it back on a sounder foundation, and grounding the credibility of our minds and the civilising force of binding moral obligation.
So, so long until next time . . . END