The Problem with Science

Science is fantastic. It is amazing what medical science can understand about the human body and healing it. It is mind boggling what physics shows us about the mysteries of the world. It is humbling when a geologist points out a layer of rock that is millions of years old. Science is fantastic. 

Science is constantly in pursuit of the truth. Previously I pointed out that when anyone is engaged in truth telling they are in the prophecy business. Prophecy is being able to tell what will happen in the future if the current reality does not change. You can do this at home. What do you think will happen in the future to a person if they stopped eating and drinking? Yes, they will die. When you speak this truth to someone suffering from anorexia this simple truth becomes a very difficult thing to say. Prophets have a simple message that is difficult to say, which is why there are so few prophets. 

And this is where science is a great blessing. Science systematizes truth telling. Science gives a weight and authority to the prophet. So much authority is given to the truth telling and prophetic voice of science that it is a bit of a problem. It puts prophets voice as more important than other voices.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about different spiritual gifts are needed for the body of Christ to function. In fact he goes on to say that all gifts are equally important even though some in the Corinth church think that the voice of those who speak in tongues are more important than other voices. Paul argues that all gifts are important and no one gift is more important. He then uses the famous body image where the body is more than an eye and more than a hand. 

Just as Corinth church had those who put more authority in speaking in tongues, we have a culture now that puts more authority in truth telling (AKA prophecy). 

And this is the problem with science these days. It is so wonderful and great that we all give it a disproportionate amount of authority in our lives.

We need truth tellers. We also need those who are able to discern the signals from the noise (the gift of wisdom). We need those who are able to discern the moral from the possible (the gift of discernment). We need those who are able to inspire the downtrodden (gift of faith) we need those who are able to reconcile us together (gift of healing). 

Some of these other gifts do not have the measurable data that science benefits from. That does not mean that these other gifts are less important or that those who use these gifts are to be discarded. Science cannot help reconcile people together. Science cannot help us forgive ourselves. Again, this is not to say that science is bad, it just is one voice that is needed in body for the common good. 

We need science. We need truth tellers. But we have a problem when we elevate the gift of truth telling over the other gifts. This was true of Corinth and this is true today. 

How Science is Doing Prophecy

This bonsai tree has little to do with this post but I know this image is not copyrighted.

This bonsai tree has little to do with this post but I know this image is not copyrighted.

Prophecy has gotten a bad rap lately and it could be a number of reasons why this is the case. First the people who tell us that the world is going to end on some date and then the world does not end on that date gives us reason to question anyone who "prophesies" about the future. Another reason is that we live as products of the scientific revolution and we are convinced that looking into crystal balls is a gimmick and a scam. 

The unfortunate thing is that we have all misunderstood prophecy and relegated it to the realms of reading tea leaves, Ouija boards, and hucksters.

At the core prophecy is about truth telling. Go back and read the Bible and those who are prophesying. They are talking about their current realities and if those current realities do not change what the obvious conclusion will be. Prophets also are ones who speak the truth that there is always hope, regardless of the situation. There is always a dawn coming, even in the darkest places. Prophets are truth tellers and the thing that science prides' itself on is truth telling. 

Science is doing prophecy. 

Science told the truth about smoking increases lung cancer.

Science told the truth about germs causing disease and not curses.

Science told the truth about the world being round and the sun at the center of our orbit.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. The great irony is that for all the scientists who do not "believe" in prophecy, they are actually the ones who are doing a darn good job at being prophetic.

And just like there are people today who debate how the prophecies in the Bible should be interpreted, so to there are people today who debate how the prophecies of science should be interpreted:

Is "fracking" safe? Where do subatomic particles go when they disappear? Is there another "human-like" animal "out there"? How did the dinosaurs die out?

When we are truth telling we are in the realm of prophecy. The next post will address why all this prophecy is a problem. 

Why don't we hear God like people did in the OT?

Every now and again I am asked why don't we hear God the way people heard God in the Bible? No more burning bushes, no voices from the sky, no walking in a garden chatting about the days activities. I am not going to get into the discussion about if these events were historically accurate or if they are metaphor or myth or some hallucination resulting in Moses eating some odd desert flower. What I am interested in discussing is an underlying assumption in the question: what does God sound like. 

St. John of the Cross said that the first language of God is silence. And if we are made in the image of God then the first language of humans might also be silence. If that is the case, then why do we seek out to "hear" God the way we would hear other noises? Do you and I know how to listen to the silence? It does not seem like we as a people embrace silence. In many ways it seems like we are like the children of later generations who no longer speak the "old language" of our ancestors. Third generation German Americans or Mexican Americans may not know how to speak or hear their grandparent's native tongue. So too we have become so removed from our native tongue that we cannot even hear silence the way we used to. 

As they say with all languages, you use it or you lose it. Perhaps we are losing the language of silence? 

Finally, if God's first language is silence and our first language is noise, should it be so shocking that even if we hear God there would be translation and interpretation problems?