A Warning on Education

Education doesn’t always have a positive effect:

What do you get when you educate sinners? The answer is simple enough—clever sinners. Knowledge, by itself, does not make people better; it may make them worse. —Douglas Wilson, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning

Education can be social engineering of the worst sort—think of education under the Nazis or the communists. But even in the Christian classroom, I need to be aware that I, a sinner, am teaching students who are sinners, and I need to constantly be in prayer (I need to work on this) and to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5 NIV).

Grace and Peace

Black Hole Power

The Astronomy Picture of the Day for April 27th is about the tremendous energy that is released when matter falls into a black hole. This situation is incredibly efficient at producing energy; even more so than nuclear reactions. How about a black hole power plant in the future? If I remember right, the science fiction novel Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke had a space ship powered by a microscopic black hole suspended somehow in the engine. A stream of hydrogen passing over the black hole was converted into the thrust for the space ship.

I imagine the congressional hearings for building the first black hole power plant in the 23rd century will be rather dramatic, with “unlimited clean energy” pitted against “if this gets loose, it will consume the entire solar system.”

Grace and Peace

ID and Creationism

The second article posted today by Christianity Today on origins is The Other ID Opponents. The first ID (Intelligent Design) opponents are, obviously, the evolutionists. The other ID opponents are the young-earth creationists, and the article is about the relationship between ID and these groups, such as Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis.

Some good points made by the article include:

  • Intelligent Design is not creationism. Most who are reading my blog understand this, the media doesn’t. ID doesn’t, in general, invoke the Bible in its arguments; in fact some of its advocates are not even Christians.
  • Young-earth creationists are wary of the ID movement, looking at it as seriously compromising when it comes to the Bible. Most ID-ers are willing to accept billions of years of earth history and that the fossil record presents a history of life on earth.
  • Despite this, most efforts to place ID in public school science classes come from young-earth creationists who are willing to settle for ID, being that they cannot legally get their own viewpoints taught.

Here are my observations:

  • Intelligent Design, like science, is limited in nature. ID will not, in itself, bring a person to faith in Jesus Christ. Science is part of natural revelation—God’s revelation of himself to all people—but they need the special revelation of Christ in the Scriptures to really know God.
  • ID fits well with Romans 1:18-20 (no one has any excuse for not believing in a powerful, caring Creator to whom we are morally responsible) and Psalm 19:1 (The heavens declare the glory of God).
  • What has happened all too often is that a scientist will look at the evidence in nature, “convert” to theism or deism, and go no further. This is, I think, one of the young-earth creationists’ most significant concerns about ID.
  • So, perhaps ID doesn’t go far enough. More about that some other time.

Grace and Peace

Why is this “science”?

Christianity Today has a couple of articles on ID and creationism that they posted on the web today. The first of these is called Science in Wonderland. It is a wide-ranging article, with sections on the teaching of evolution in public schools, elephant pheromones, and the extinctions that occurred at the end of the Permian Period.

The interesting part to me was a section on string theory. (String theory: molecules are made of atoms, atoms are made of electrons, protons, and neutrons; protons and neutrons are made of quarks, quarks are perhaps made of tiny “strings” of energy). Why is it that wild speculations about string theorysuch as the untestable idea that we might live in one of 10500 parallel universescan make the cover of science magazines, but anything that suggests that the universe was created is “not science?” The parallel universe idea is an attempt to explain how we could be in a universe that looks so perfectly fine-tuned for intelligent life without invoking the need for a Creator. This is based on faith even more than anything in the ID or creationism movements; a faith in naturalism that says, there must be an explanation for the universe apart from a divine Creator, no matter what the evidence in this universe says.

I thought that this universe was the one that scientists study.

Grace and Peace

I see you!

There are a number of good mapping and imagery sites on the internet. One of my favorites is Terraserver-USA, which has aerial photography of virtually the entire 48 contiguous states. Over large urban areas, the site has high-detail color imagery (good enough to see cars and in some cases the shadows of individuals on the sidewalk), and the rest of the area is covered by black and white images that still have sufficient detail to identify your house.

The old Busch Stadium, St. Louis

Gateway Arch, St. Louis

B-52s in the desert, Arizona

Other than being really cool, these types of images have numerous applications in the sciences: in geology, agriculture, forestry, biology, hydrology, and other areas.

Grace and Peace

Earth Day 2006 #2

A good internet article summarizing a Christian perspective on the environment is Christian Environmentalism by Dr. Ray Bohlin of Probe Ministries. Here are some quotes from the article:

What we fail to realize is that Christians have a sacred responsibility to the earth and the creatures within it. The earth is being affected by humans in an unprecedented manner, and we do not know what the short or long term effects will be.

But while pantheism elevates nature, it simultaneously degrades man and will ultimately degrade nature as well.

A true Christian environmental ethic differs from the naturalistic and pantheistic ethics in that it is based on the reality of God as Creator and man as his image-bearer and steward. God is the Creator of nature, not part of nature.

Nature has value in and of itself because God created it.

But a responsibility goes along with bearing the image of God. In its proper sense, man’s rule and dominion over the earth is that of a steward or a caretaker, not a reckless exploiter. Man is not sovereign over the lower orders of creation. Ownership is in the hands of the Lord.

An effective steward understands that which he oversees, and science can help us discover the intricacies of nature. Technology puts the creation to man’s use, but unnecessary waste and pollution degrades it and spoils the creation’s ability to give glorify to its creator. I think it is helpful to realize that we are to exercise dominion over nature not as though we are entitled to exploit it but as something borrowed or held in trust.

The source of our ecological crisis lies in man’s fallen nature and the abuse of his dominion.

Our often uncontrolled greed and haste have led to the deterioration of the environment.

We have spoken out loudly against the materialism of science as expressed in the issues of abortion, human dignity, evolution, and genetic engineering, but have shown ourselves to be little more than materialists in our technological orientation towards nature.

By failing to fulfill our responsibilities to the earth, we are losing a great evangelistic opportunity. Many in our society are seeking an improved environment, yet they think that most Christians don’t care about ecological issues and that most churches offer no opportunity for involvement.

Grace and Peace

Earth Day 2006

Christians often don’t know what to make of Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22nd, or at least on a weekend close to that date. Increasingly, believers in Christ are aware of environmental issues, but something like “Earth Day” is viewed as being for new agers, tree huggers, pro-abortion people, and theological liberals. I’ve never been to an Earth Day celebration, but a look at the St. Louis Earth Day brochure tells me that I can visit booths of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Planned Parenthood, and the Soul-Esteem Center. I can eat food from the Maharashi World Peace-Vedic Organic booth, or watch yoga demonstrations. The event is sponsored by large companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Monsanto, and Toyota. There are, however, Christian organizations present as well: the Christian Vegetarian Association (I have no idea where they are at theologically) and the Concordia Seminary Students in Mission (theologically conservative).

An excellent book for getting a handle on a Christian response to environmentalism is Pollution and the Death of Man by Francis Schaeffer and Udo Middelmann. This book was written in response to an influential essay which appeared in Science magazine entitled The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis, by history professor Lynn White. In this article, White blames Christianity and the Bible for many of the world’s woes. He held that the Christian view of human dominion over nature based on Genesis 1:26-28 has led to exploitation of nature and the present ecological crisis, and many in the environmental movement have accepted this portrayal.

As I said, Schaeffer and Middelmann wrote Pollution and the Death of Man in response to White, as well as to others in the environmental movement with an anti-Christian perspective. Because the Christian world view is being blamed for environmental problems, the authors argue that it is important for Christians to pay close attention to environmental issues. They analyze various responses to the environment, and demonstrate that it is possible to have a Biblically-informed view of stewardship that respects both humans and nature. The pantheistic or naturalistic world views that dominate the environmental movement lack this balance that only Christians can supply.

I highly recommend Schaeffer and Middelmann’s book as a starting point on environmental issues. It is about the philosophy of creation care, rather than about specific environmental issues, and it lays a good foundation for our moral responsibility to be good stewards of what God has given us. My hope is that Christians will become more aware of both the theological and scientific aspects of ecological issues. Until this happens, our options are to continue to ignore issues that could have significant effects for generations to come, or to blindly follow “experts” on either the right or the left.

Grace and Peace