Modern science did not emerge spontaneously. It emerged from the Church and could not have progressed without the support of the Church. Similarly, the migration to methodological naturalism (science is limited by arbitrary definition to only naturalistic explanations) could not have happened without widespread church support. Even today so-called “mainstream” liberal religious movements remain solidly behind the theory of evolution and the artificially constrained definition of science.
Naturalistic explanations of evolution seem to leave God without a job to do or a purpose. Without a purpose, it is a short step to the tragic no-god conclusion. Of course, that conclusion totally ignores the relationships between God and His people and the millions of changed lives throughout millennia of time.
Figure 13.3 maps the progressive isolation of science. Renaissance theologians found the concept of naturalism to be satisfying, because it seemed to support the notion of a perfect God who never makes mistakes. It did not seem reasonable to them that God would create a natural environment that was so brutally violent in the animal kingdom or an array of harmful insects or numerous reptiles and other animals that would prey upon mankind.
Accordingly, a natural environment that appeared in another way would not require God’s intervention. The theologians of the time viewed the imperfect environment as incompatible with a perfect God. They apparently did not recognize that all of creation fell at the time Adam and Eve rebelled and were cast out of the Garden of Eden.
Since the physical laws of the universe appeared to be universal, stable, and unchanging, it seemed reasonable to extrapolate the operation of those laws from historic time past to projected time in the future. But the “laws” are man’s mathematical description of natural phenomena using man-created mathematical language. The laws were later found to be approximations often superseded by later research.
Why should God be confined to the limits of mathematical language invented by man used to describe physical laws that are approximations? Of course, God cannot be held to the limits of the human mind. However, the laws appeared firm and rigid in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Simplified laws are comfortable and satisfying to mankind’s limited frame of reference. Since orderly scientific investigation originated in the
Church, the church culture and the emerging scientific culture migrated together in the direction of naturalism. Of course, most modern scientists would agree that it is risky to extrapolate (extend) data beyond a measured range. Nevertheless, the apparent stability of natural processes enabled early investigators to feel comfortable with the extrapolation.
The apparent uniformity of observed natural processes allowed historic geologists and evolutionary biologists to falsely assume extreme mind-boggling lengths of time to support evolutionary theory. Reliance on extreme lengths of time enabled some scientists to tragically conclude that there is no god. Later, publications, Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology and Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species provoked a shift from advocating naturalism to explaining naturalism.15 Naturalism (evolution) became the culturally embedded axiomatic assumption that could no longer be challenged without the critic being ruthlessly persecuted, possibly losing reputation, job, and career. Nevertheless, many scientists today and the general public continue to firmly adhere to their faith in God.
Without God, man becomes the highest being in the universe. Pride anoints man as his own god, i.e. his own idol. Since the most obvious distinction between man and (other) animals is intelligence, man’s intellect and reasoning ability become an idols’ idol. The existence of a man’s spirit is summarily dismissed; emotions are treated as a nuisance or interference with respect to science.
Finally the definition of science is progressively restricted until it allows only observations, and measurements within reach of the five physical senses, later extended by increasingly sophisticated instruments. The observations and measurements can only be evaluated and manipulated within the limits of man’s intellect (reasoning ability), using the manmade construction of the rules of logic. All other emotional or spiritual influences are arbitrarily barred from the realm of science.
Science has migrated from the handmaiden of theology (holistic) to the priesthood of humanism. But science as commonly defined in contemporary culture can observe only a part of the universal reality. Science’s endless pursuit of physical reductionism becomes unavoidable as its inability to understand anything outside of the physical realm.
What do YOU think?