Stegoold, Urôsss, and the Fear of Science
There are these two extraterrestrial alien-types, Stegoold and Urôsss from the planet Bob near the star ß-Carotene. They have both been allowed to visit planet Earth for the last 100 years for observations. But they were allowed only two minutes of observing time each year. When they were all done with their observations they beamed home with their data. Part of Stegoold’s report follows:
FACTS: As to their ways of getting around, I observed that early on the humans would get about with four-wheeled vehicles drawn by four-footed creatures. After some more earth years passed, I noticed a dramatic change: Those earlier vehicles were no longer present! There were instead some polluting, noisy contraptions with four wheels only. As years passed, the vehicles’ structures maintained a basic form but nevertheless changed gradually in several ways. For example, they became more sleek, less rectangular, and faster. There was also a much greater variety of them, more and more as the years passed. Earlier species were no longer evident at all.
INTERPRETATION: The early, simple vehicles with the hairy, four-footed pullers were victims of some mass extinction. Only the most fit among the vehicles must have survived. Moreover, those surviving vehicles lost the less efficient trait of being led by the four-legged hairy things. They had evolved rapidly into the loud, smoky four-wheeled vehicles. After that quick and dramatic change came the long slow processes in which the vehicles changed over many generations, evolving, through mutations, the traits that made them stronger and better able to survive. Traits that were not helping the various vehicle species to survive were lost entirely (fins, for example) and those particular species became extinct. The undesirables had been successfully weeded out. As a result of time, chance, mutation, and natural selection, Earthlings were left with the fast, efficient vehicles they have today.
It turned out that Urôsss had the same facts - exactly. But his conclusion went something like this:
INTERPRETATION: All the vehicles, from the early creature-drawn version to the later, faster models, were of the same basic design. They all had wheels; they all had devices that were pulled right or left for moving the vehicles right or left, they all had a compartment for transporting the Earthlings; they all had ways of seeing at night, they all had similar ways of stopping; they all showed evidence of design. I also observed no evidence of one vehicle becoming another — there was no hybrid, transitional vehicle. I wasn’t there long enough to experience the actual creation of any of the vehicles but my experience in real life tells me the following: When I see a lot of objects, all similar, all complex, all ordered, all with purpose, there has always been some Intelligent Being behind it. My conclusion is that some intelligent being, perhaps the Earthlings(?), had engineered the vehicles. The vehicles had changed over time, to be sure, but it was no accident.
Do you see what’s going on here? Two beings, Stegoold and Urôsss notice the same facts and come to nearly completely different conclusions. Such is Life.
And such is the reason for a lot of misunderstanding among humans (and more specifically to this article, between scientists and Christians). How’s that? Well, both nature (the realm of scientists) and the Bible (the realm of theologians) have facts. Man, in his infinite finiteness, tries to interpret these facts. But we are not all-knowing, we are not all-wise. So our interpretations don’t always agree, and we argue away. I’ll give you some examples of what I mean…
Nature has facts that all of us agree with: Things fall down, time presses forward, the Earth turns, the Angels will never win the Pennant. But scientists disagree on the interpretation of the facts of nature: for example, the distances to distant galaxies, the workings of the mind, the exact mechanisms of DNA, what Velveeta really is.
The Bible has facts, too. It states quite matter-of-factly that there was a people of Israel, there was a King David, Babylon conquered Judah, Jesus was born, lived, died, and resurrected. But we Christians interpret parts of the Bible differently; to wit, Once you’re saved are you always saved?, Is baptism necessary for salvation?, Is there predestination or free will or both?, Were the disciples actually serious when they were arguing over who was greatest among them?
The bottom line so far is this: When scientists and Christians argue, they, like everyone else, almost exclusively argue about their interpretations, not the facts. (And isn’t that just like us?) But wait! Do we ever disagree on the facts? After all, God gives us both the facts of nature and the facts of the Bible, doesn’t He? And isn’t He always consistent? If so, the facts of nature and the Bible should always match up.
And they do. Both nature and the Bible tell us these: The universe had a beginning. On the surface of early Earth there was no light at first, then there was. A rain cycle was established. Continents formed. Plant life took to the land. The skies cleared. Animals appeared. Man appeared. There was an ancient Mesopotamian Valley. There was a Hebrew people. There was a city of Jericho. There was an ancient Palestine. Etc., etc., etc..
Which, in a very roundabout way, brings me to the main point. If it’s mainly a matter of disagreement over the interpretation of the facts, then there is no need to fear the sciences. Science is not the enemy. If the God of the Bible and the God of nature are the same, which I believe they are, no scientist will ever give you facts which will contradict the facts of the Bible. For example, they will never show you proof that God was not involved in the origins of life. They will never say, “Hey look! I have evidence that proves that King David never existed.” They will never present to you the body of Jesus of Nazareth.
However, beware of some scientists’ interpretations of the facts of nature, such as the belief that man is the accidental end result of a long string of “mistakes,” homosexuality is an inherited trait, there must be life elsewhere because it sprang up here, or that vegetables are good for you. And be wary of your own interpretations, as well. Meaning this: If your interpretation of the Bible flies in the face of the facts of nature, be an honest Christian and change your interpretation. Notice I didn’t say to compromise or change the Bible. But have the integrity, in light of new evidence, to change or review your own interpretation of Scripture. You may actually be wrong. (I have been, many times.) But you’ll be right in humbling yourself and not claiming omniscience. I believe only One has that title.
Now, go, and enjoy the sciences. Study the plants and stars and the body and chemical reactions. We need more Christians “infiltrating” the sciences with a message of hope and purpose and meaning. Remember that the study of the glories of nature, from subatomic particles to the galactic superclusters and everything in between, can only bring you closer to the One Who blessed us with them.
And that’s a fact.