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mysermonMarch132005

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Has Science Disproved Christianity?

When a boy starts growing up, he goes through an intellectual cycle that goes, more or less, something like this: 

At first the boy is at peace with the fact that he knows nothing himself, but that his dad knows everything.

This phase could be called the “trust” phase.

Then the boy comes to discover that he does know a thing or two, but not nearly as much as his dad.

This stage is an extension of the “trust” stage and one in which the boy still relies on his dad to show him the way.

All too soon after this, however, he starts suspecting that he actually knows stuff that his dad does not know. This phase we might call the “suspicious” or “jealous” stage.

And from there, as is our nature, it does not take long before the boy realises that actually knows everything, and his dad is an ignorant dinosaur, out of touch with life and out of touch with reality.

For the boy, this is the “enlightened” stage.

For the father, well, it is about now, the wise say, that the age of acceptance dawns, knowing that all will be and is, as God wants it to be

Wise old Socrates was probably at that stage of his life when he said: “…all that I know for sure, is that I don’t know.” And then he added…

“But, knowing that I don’t know, makes me the wisest man of all…”

And Socrates, as you know, died a horrible death, but a peaceful one. ..

Allow me to jump almost 2400 years ahead, from the time of Socrates in Greece, to Basel, Germany, where for a few moments we may become part of a small group of rather inquisitive onlookers on a strange site.

Let me paint the picture:

It is the middle of a bright sunny day.

A frail looking little man with a vigorous moustache, shoulders slumped, is walking slowly around and around the fountain on the village square.

In spite of the hour, he is carrying a kerosene lamp, as if lighting up the way.

One can tell he is deep in thought. He has a frown on his forehead and he is looking at his feet as he walks. He is muttering to himself, and round and around he goes, slowly….

Suddenly he stops!

Softly, as if it has just struck him, he says: “God is dead”

Again, “God is dead, he says, this time a little louder.

And now he becomes almost frenzied:

                                    “God is dead; God is dead; GOD IS DEAD! he shouts……

And then he stops, looks up at the crowd, and says:

“And it is you who killed him!”

The man with the lamp actually lived. He was Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, who lived at the height of Prussian army’s might.

It was also the time of phenomenal scientific and technological advancement.

His thinking, I would suggest, is the product of this time of scientific knowledge advancement

Much has been written on whether he was a believing man, and the famous story of the incident on the village square has just confused the issue more.

Nietzsche himself declared that he was an atheist, and yet, the “God is dead” statement, makes it clear that he thought long and hard about God and of mankind’s interaction with God. But, maybe, just  too long and to hard, leaving no room for the spirit of God to work. …?

And is it from this kind of thinking, this human way of thinking in the age of reason and science and technology, that our question arises? Is it this kind of “reasoning” that weakens our faith and makes us, eventually, unfaithful? 

The question, as you know, I have been asked to prepare on is:

 

Has science disproved Christianity?

The answer, I can tell you now, is no!

And now we can all go home …. and thank you for coming…

Ok, be like that!

To work towards an answer to our question, let’s first then define the sources of information we will use to examine the question that has been raised.

Let’s go on another imaginary journey.

In our search for the answer to the question, lets pretend that we are in the foyer of the biggest, best equipped library in the world.

In this library works the best librarian the world has ever known and this librarian has been busy, very busy:

We sent word, you see, to the librarian, that she should gather all known books on science so that we may compare it to all the books she may find on Christianity.

So, to the best of her ability, this is what the librarian has done. She has gathered together all the books on science she could find and have placed them on row upon rows of tables in the one side of the very large room. A sign indicates that all of the books in this section are the “Scientific Knowledge” books.

And there, in a dark corner, on the far side of the room, on a little table, the librarian has placed a single book under a sign that says: Christianity’s Book … and there we find …the Bible. (I notice that it is an Afrikaans Bible).

When we ask the librarian about this imbalance of material, she explains that while she was preparing for this showdown, for a moment she became worried that she couldn’t find, readily available, as many books on Christianity as she could on science,

So she started out by reading the one Christian book after the other, commentaries, bible studies, systematic theology, even ReJoySing II and the Book of Worship, all in a frenzied search for proof that she would be able to stack up against the hundreds of thousands of books on science that loomed in the other end of the room.

Until it dawned on her: all the books on Christianity was saying the same thing, And everything all the books were saying, she discovered, was already contained in that one, lonely looking book on that other little table, the Bible.

And what the Bible says, of course, is this:

We are God’s people, living by God’s grace, in God’s world.

And when she discovered this truth, the Librarian said, she knew it was good, and then she rested!

Wouldn’t it be great if those wayward scientists had done a bit of pre-reading too, and discovered this simple truth and indeed explanation, of our so-called scientific verifiable existence, too.

Much of what scientists today believe in has also been summarised in another book, although this book, in the end, also bears witness to the truth of the word of God.

Some of us was fortunate to hear Dr Louw Alberts, internationally recognized nuclear physicist, speak in our church some two years ago.

Dr Alberts is as well known for his work in nuclear research in South Africa as he is for his book: Geloof versus Wetenskap (or Science versus religion)

And in this book he goes to great length to discuss the very question we are trying to answer this evening.

In this book, Dr Alberts lists three possible models people may cling to as the foundation for their beliefs of where and when everything had its origin:

Notice that the models at once also contain the basis for belief or unbelief, depending on what you prefer to believe in or, to use the popular term, depending what your “World View is.

The first group says: everything is coincidental. Several universes or for that matter, our single universe, must developed spontaneously and we, purely coincidentally, are products of the only universe we know. This group in their radical form base their belief on scientific findings like the “Big Bang theory and vigorously stand in opposition to Christianity.

The second group says: let us focus ourselves on what we can see and touch and experience. We are limited to our experience of things and therefore there can be no answer to the question on where we originated from. This is the agnostics at work, They too, on the grounds of sensory experience or observation, by implication deny the substance of the very essence of Christianity, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, for He is today, in their way of thinking, not touchable or visible.

The third group, says, everything was created for a purpose by a supreme being (who we call God) and that God pre-existed before time and things. Christians and their faith in Christ, or in short, Christianity falls in this group.

These three approaches can, broadly speaking, be categorized as being either atheistic, agnostic or monotheistic, all three wonderful scientific-sounding words.

The prominent realization as one examines them more closely is this: all three are - and remain - work in progress.

In scientific thinking there is no final truth. As we discover new techniques, new technology, as we break through new barriers of intellectual capacity, so the “facts” of scientific “reality” changes.

In his book, Dr Alberts continues to examine the thinking or the theory in each of the first two groups, and he does so as a scientist.

And then he turns to the Bible, which he uses as the foundation for his arguments for Christianity.

And now, he finds, as we will find when we return to the Word of God, a central, unchanging truth.

And when we take into consideration how the Bible came into existence, remember that the Bible books were written over a thousand years or more, by people who were vastly divided geographically, and we see how in spite of this. The whole Bible, the old and the New Testaments hang together, then, surely,  we must realize that here is a book like no other. But, hopefully, we all already know that.

So, while unbelieving scientists across the world are looking for scientific reasons and tables and experiments they may conduct that would prove that Christianity is “a pie in the sky when you die, lets dust of that lonely Bible.

The Bible uses the word “science” (or a word closest resembling what we in modern times understand under the word “science”) only twice, both in the King James version of the Bible only.

In Daniel1:4, we read:

Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

And in 1 Timothy 6:20 we read:

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science, falsely so called:

In both these instances, the word is used more as the equivalent of “knowledge” rather than “science” as we have come to understand the word in our time.

But the gist of the quotations is clear: Even then, even in the time of these examples thousands of years ago, in the time of Daniel and in the time of Paul writing his letters to Timothy, there were people who totally overestimated their knowledge.

They had become impressed at their ability to gain knowledge, forgetting that it was a gift that God gave them to start with.

We saw that in the fall of Adam and Eve. What was their sin? That they want to be self-reliant, that they believe they should care for themselves and will be able to do so better than God can.

What is more, with this new found knowledge and the power it brought them, they were going to subject the earth and all that exists in it and above it and underneath it, not because of their calling or the command from God to do so, to His glory, but again, because they believed that by so doing, they could become God themselves.

We see examples of this in the story of the tower of Babel, and in the story of Jacob just before he wrestles with God, when he makes a plan to appease Esau by sending him gifts.

And to this kind of thinking, in the modern era, comes the “scientist” – the knowledgeable ones!

But how much did they really know. How much did they really understand? And how much do we know today. How much do we understand today?

Which brings us back to our readings…and that wonderful book again:

What or where can we read in the Bible that will not only balance the scale of our understanding of our existence, but indeed fill us with a purpose and a sense of security so that we may confidently face the scientific orientated world and fight the good fight for its and our everlasting salvation?

The answer is – everything and everywhere!

The Bible is, without a doubt, as one popular radio personality puts it, the Handbook for Daily Living, today as much as it will be just before the fullness of time and as much as it has been for a thousand years.

In it we may find the reason for our being, the explanation for our suffering, the promise for our future and the guarantee that we are safe in the arms of our Maker.

It’s all there!

And, although it is not a science manual, or a history journal, or an archeological index, we may find the basis for all the answers that the scientists have not been able to find in that one book, the Bible.

And the answer remains the same.

It’s all there!

Let’s look at an example:

Genesis 2.

What is this account about?

Its about creation. Yes?

And so much more!

Look at the imagery:

The garden as it is described by the author of Genesis, is drawing a picture of a garden that would surround a King’s dwellings. It was almost exclusively kings that had gardens like the one described in Genesis in the time that Genesis was written.

Who is the King that is implied?

God.

Who does he make his representative?

Mankind.

What is our task?

To rule over the garden of God, creation, until He comes.

Do we mess it up?

Of course, but that’s another story.

So, Genesis two is about the establishment of the Kingdom of God and His command to His people to care for it, to His glory, until He comes back again.

Where do we see it enforced and fulfilled in the new Testament?

In the New Adam, the second David, The ultimate King.

Where?

There!

On The Cross, where he is crowned King over life and death and time and he is established as the ruler of the New Kingdom.

And so one can continue… the parable of the sower, for instance, fits wonderfully into this paradigm. And into the bigger, ultimate picture.

But don’t we know the message of the parable of the sower?

Well, yes.

But there is another sermon that one can preach on what the message of this parable is.

Not that it makes the sermon we often hear untrue.

Of course it is about faith that may be found to be weak, or impulsive, or strong,

But, again, it is especially about the Kingdom of God and, specifically, about those who are to turn their back on it (the Israelites?)

and those who listen and listen but still do not hear that the Kingdom of God is about to dawn (the Pharisees who had the advantage of Jesus being in their midst in their times, but who wasted it away?)

and those who become subjects of the new King,  (the small circle of Jews who came to faith in Jesus who we are also currently learning about in the series on Acts in the morning service.)

As a quick detour but as another example: The theme of those listening and not hearing, … and looking but not seeing, is a constant thread in the Bible.

It sent a shiver down my spine when I discovered this imagery also in the Old Testament and then realized the connection:

Look at Matthew 11: 2-6.

Now look at  Isiah 6: 9-13

Apart from the comparisons did you notice, too, the imagery of the uprooting?

Now lets read Mark 4: and take special note of verses11, 12

Apart from the references to not hearing and not seeing, Do you notice the imagery, in this case, of the “planting”, as opposed to the “uprooting” in

Matthew 11.

In becomes obvious, doesn’t it. In Isaiah 6 It is the foretelling of the rejection of Jesus in new Testament times and, by the way, the destruction of the temple.

It is all there!

Do we see? Do we hear?

And so one may continue….

It’s all there!

But meanwhile, what do we say to our science-sure friends, those who are able to quote the relativity theory of Einstein or unravel the most complicated  mathematical equations and calculations, but who can offer no explanation of such concepts as love, and forgiveness, and hope, and in spite of this short-coming, insist that Christianity is false.

They, I suggest, we refer to that lonely Book in that very big library, and we point them to Psalm 8.

Perhaps even read it with them:

(read)

And when finally they break down and perhaps even weep, sobbing in relief of the knowledge and recognition that we are God’s people, living in God’s world, under God’s grace and mercy and love, I hope we will all be able to say to them (with love of course)…but I told you so.

And, the Bible has told us so from the beginning!

Amen

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