The Tower of Babel, The Babel of Science, and the Science of Truth: My Response.

In response to Matt’s post, I am struck by the scientific thinkers who would like to replace religion with science. As Matt said:

Among scientists, you have the distinctly anti-religious voices who often view science as a replacement for religion.
Entre la Espada y la Pared

This really reminds me of C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and in particular, the third book: That Hideous Strength.  Written almost 70 years ago, it is interesting how much insight and foresight Mr. Lewis had in this book.  The underlying idea of this final volume in the trilogy is that Man is trying to overcome death through science, and the plot centers around these scientists, who bring the head of a corpse back to life by hooking it up to various tubes and wires.  Christianity preaches life after death; science hopes to eliminate death altogether.

In this vein, I am reminded of Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel.

Genesis 11:4 (ESV)
4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

In this story, mankind is gathering together its strength to make a name for itself, a name that is equal to God (“with its top in the heavens”).  This is parallel in my mind to C. S. Lewis’ description of science trying to eliminate death (defy the order established by God), as it is also parallel to science trying to not only undermine religion, but replace it.   Notice God’s response to the builder of the Tower of Babel:

Genesis 11:6-7 (ESV)
6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down there and confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

God doesn’t allow his established order to be thwarted indefinitely by man.  Regardless of how we respond to him or what we think about him, he is still there, and he’s still God.  It’s comforting to me to remember that the babel of scientists crusading for their cause of atheism doesn’t have an effect on the actual state of affairs in the universe.  It is tragic, though, that by disobeying and defying God, we miss out on his blessings.  This is captured best in my mind by the irony in That Hideous Strength of overcoming death.  Eternal life on earth is desirable, but not considering the fact that it precludes eternal life in heaven.  By defying God’s established order, we may gain something, but we will surely miss something even greater.

So if that is my first response, I guess it is to the scientific fundamentalists, if I can call them that.  My other response would be to the so-called “religious fundamentalists.”  I say “so-called”, because I consider myself a fundamentalist, if that means that I believe the Bible is true, but this term is commonly used as a pejorative for narrow-minded Christians.  I feel like it is the duty of Christians, and in particular Christian academics (in this case, scientists), to interface with the world and not ignore it.  It is foolish to ignore the truth God has given us through the Bible.  But it is also foolish to ignore the truth God has given us through his creation, even if it carries less authority and is harder to interpret.  Nevertheless, Paul draws from the “Book of Creation” in his argument in Romans 1:

Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

The gap between science and religion, which as Matt has pointed out, shouldn’t really have to be a gap, has been created by extremists on both sides of the picture.  We don’t need to compromise our faith, but we also don’t need to build up a faith that is compromisable.  We shouldn’t be scared of finding out “the truth” from science as if there is any way that God is not God, and we also can’t blindly ignore its findings.  There is a need for more dialogue, not more division.  I’m not saying you have to agree with any particular view, or even that you have to abandon the literal one.  I just wish there were a true dialogue, and that believers in conservative Christian churches didn’t have to feel like they are committing heresy by considering what science has to say.  We are called to be in the world, but not of the world.  Although this makes us separate from the world, it also means we have to genuinely interface with it, and this includes the scientific community.  I just wonder how we can do this in such a way that we express Christ’s love through our actions instead of making the divide deeper and harder to cross.  I’m excited to see if the remainder of this series on Science and Religion helps us move in that direction.

-James, the younger brother


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