Part 2: The History of Our Present Condition
How did we get to this 2 story, divided house where religion & morality are in the upper story and science & facts are in the lower story? For centuries science was seen as the handmaiden of Christianity. Christian thought provided the foundation for the birth of modern science in the 1600’s. Since the Christian God was a rational God, the laws He invented were seen as rational. Laws like gravity, the 1st & 2nd laws of thermodynamics, etc. This is why almost all scientific discoveries in the 17th-19th centuries were described in religious terms.
This started to change in the mid-late 1800’s with the publication of 3 books; Darwins “Origin of Species” in 1859, John Draper’s “History of the Conflict between Religion and Science” in 1874 and Andrew Dickson White’s “History of the Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom” in 1896. Draper’s & White’s books were almost all fiction. Historians are virtually unanimous in holding that the science versus religion story is a 19th century fabrication. These books were where the flat earth concept was born. To this day, many people believe that the medieval church believed in a flat earth. But the ancient Greeks and everyone after that always believed that the Earth was a sphere. The church NEVER believed that the Earth was flat.
By the early 1900’s, there was a drive to intensify this change by cultivating a secular approach that divorced science from its Christian roots. Science eventually became the standard for determining facts and reality, being alone in the lower level of the house, while Christianity was relegated to the personal preference section of the upper level of the house. Eventually science, with its secular philosophies of materialism and naturalism, was accepted as “objective fact”. Scientists were seen as men in white lab coats who only went where the facts lead. They were seen as ‘neutral’ observers of nature. Scientists were seen as the new ‘priests’ of objectivity. This was taught in all the schools and universities from the early 1900’s on. Professional scholarship rigidly enforced this public/private, personal preference/fact dichotomy. Faith & reason had split into separate levels of the house.
Of course, nobody comes to interpreting facts as completely unbiased. We all come with our preconceptions, prior experiences and biases. The problem is that some scientists have reduced all of life to the physical realm. Everything about humans is reduced to chemical reactions. Even our thinking process in nothing more than chemical reactions in our brain. In essence, we are nothing more than machines. When they carry this line of thinking thru, this means that our actions and even our morals are just due to chemical reactions. So we’re not really responsible for what we do or think. It’s all programmed into our genes/brain. This is why some scientists have said that free will and morals are “illusions”. They don’t exist in the real world but only in our minds. You and I are nothing more than particles that have somehow evolved into a consciousness with a sense of personal identity. So now, the lower story of facts has invaded the upper story of values/morals/faith/personal preferences. Christianity and morality have thus been revealed as nothing more than illusions, things that our evolved consciousness has invented to help us deal with reality.
But people don’t live this way. Even though our morality is being degraded, we still have a sense of morality. These scientists realize the problem this represents. So they take an irrational leap of faith into the upper story where they affirm contradictory ideas like moral freedom, free will and human dignity even though they think these things are illusions. This is definitely an irrational leap of faith. This is not just a divided house of truth, it is an outright contradiction. Steven Pinker and Marvin Minsky, both professors at MIT, realize and accept this contradiction. Minsky says in his book, “The Society of Mind”, that “The physical world provides no room for freedom of will” and yet he writes”…that concept (that humans have free will) is essential to our models of the mental realm. Too much of our psychology is based on it for us to ever give it up. We’re virtually forced to maintain that belief, even though we know it to be false.” Francis Schaeffer, the late Christian philosopher, says that, “Although man may say that he is no more than a machine, his whole life denies it.”
The Christian’s task is to bring people face-to-face with this contradiction. Between what a person says he believes and what his whole life is telling him. Given the starting point of a personal God, our own consciousness/personhood is completely explainable. The Christian worldview provides a firm basis for understanding free will, morality and the highest human ideals. This is why we must insist that the two story house is in error. This is only a one story house that doesn’t have scientific truth and religious truth separated from each other but has Christianity as a comprehensive, unified worldview that addresses all of life and reality. Christianity is not just religious truth. It is total truth!
For His Kingdom,