Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is Science Bad for Your Faith - Part 1

Science and the "Magic Christian"

You read a lot of criticism out there lately from the folks I call “Magic” Christians. Many seem to find science an unmitigated tool of the devil. Tools, whether they are used by the Devil or by God, are simply tools. A sword can kill a foe or clear a path depending on who is wielding it.

Magic Christians believe that words have power in them all by themselves. This is an ancient and wrong-headed belief. It comes from the ancient necromancers, wizards and witches who once used superstition and fear of their imagined “powers” and incantations to control and subdue the ignorant. Complete balderdash!

Magic did not exist then, nor does it exist now.

This does not mean there are not supernatural things which happen. Supernatural only means we don't understand them; that the events experienced as supernatural are above our understanding of nature.The supernatural does not, happen as a result of incantations, nose twitches or magic wants, however much one might enjoy the Harry Potter movies.

Only God has the power to create. Only He can perform acts which might seem “magical” to us who have no idea how to do those things, but which God can do without trouble because his nature is far different than ours and his capabilities, while of a higher order than ours, obey the same laws of physics no less than we obey the law of gravity. Because we have not yet discovered all of the laws of physics is immaterial. Because we do not understand how a thing is done does not mean it does not obey the laws God set down for the universe. Yes, the devil can do some things we cannot understand which could be considered supernatural, but it is only because he yet retains some capabilities leftover from his days as head angel.  What is doable for angels may not be doable for us.  Paul speaks of angels existing on a higher plane, whatever that may be.  It does not make the behavior of devils magic by any means. They may only do what they are allowed by their nature.  I know.  I have seen their limitations.  That's a story for another weblog, though.

As one physicist so succinctly put it, “God does not play dice with the universe.”

Generations of scientists that have since followed him have tried to disprove that statement with explorations into chaos theory and quantum mechanics, but the data they have collected show that there is, in fact, an order to the universe down to the subatomic level. One physicist made the observation that the universe, when it was formed, “….looked like it knew we were coming.”

God is the creator of all that is studied in science. I find that the more science discovers, the stronger my faith becomes in God the Creator. If you have a thorough understanding of scripture (and not just the parts that suit your theories of how things work), you will find the Bible has anticipated scientific discoveries by centuries.

Magic Christians particularly have problems with psychology, psychiatry and other fields that study of the human brain. It’s as though they fear brain science is going to crack open people’s heads and find there is no soul within. One of the hazards of believing that inside you is some sort of “holy gas” that is the “real you” and can never die, is that this belief has relatively little basis in science.

What we know so far, says that the body, the brain and whatever spark kicks off life work together to house whomever we are. Without any one of these parts, we, apparently, cease to exist. Scripture concurs with science on this one. “The dead know not anything,” says Ecclesiasties 9:5. The first great lie was when the Devil told Eve, “Thou shalt not surely die.” He’s gone on telling that lie for millennia. You don’t really die goes the pagan myth. You just float up out of your body like some cloud of gas and go somewhere else.

But, the Magic Christian argues, if mental illness exists, then what happens to sin and redemption (and the fear of eternal punishment – a favorite church tool for keeping the troops in line)? They have recently launched attacks on organizations like AA because AA doesn’t specify that you look to “God” as understood by their particular brand of Christianity. They recommend whatever higher power you can imagine. The Magic Christians criticize AA for not sending their members to the “right” God and lay AA’s sins at the door of psychology and psychiatry. They launch blistering attacks on the whole idea of addictions and mental illness, preferring to describe behavioral and emotional disorders as “sin” which can be cured simply by baptism, saying the right words, rubbing the right prayer cloth or donating to the right preacher. Meanwhile AA goes right on helping drunks escape their addiction.

It's true that AA doesn't specify a higher power to trust. They are, after all, only a shadow of what the church at its best should be. AA simply asks you to look up, above and beyond yourselves. Only God is up there. If you find anything else, it's because you weren't looking up.

To be continued….

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