Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Summary and Schedule

Dear Friends,
    Here is the summary of our first class on "Science and Christianity".  I am including sending it to a few people who were not in our class, but who may be interested.  If anyone does not wish to continue receiving these summaries, please let me know and I will remove you from the distribution list.  I am attaching the survey / test on Biblical and scientific knowledge that I gave in class.  The answers are at the end.  Incidentally, no one "aced" the test, so do not feel too badly if you missed a few questions!  Note that some homework is given (see the red ink about two thirds of the way down) for those who have time to do it.  A tentative schedule of the class is given at the end.  We are scheduled to spend half of our class time in prayer on Oct 19.  I don't know when the next time will be that we do this, but I put it in on Nov 23rd as a "place holder".
Yours and His,

Science and Christianity


Lesson 1  Introduction


Discussion:  what is the relationship between science and Christianity like?

Does the Bible seem to agree with what we hear in school, on television, or in university classrooms?   

(Science is viewed by many as being correct or true, and the Bible as being incorrect, since it appears to teach things contrary to science.)


Survey (of Biblical and scientific knowledge)


Our starting point is that we are evangelical Christians with both essential and non-essential beliefs.  Many of the topics that we consider in this class are non-essential.  We may differ peacefully and respectfully in how we view some of them, and still be saved and have fellowship with each other.  We do hope to profit by deeper study of these issues.


Discussion:  what are typical Christian attitudes toward science?  How do you feel about it?


Often Christians are suspicious of science, and afraid that it says things contrary to Scripture.


Discussion:  Are the following technologies morally acceptable?

Using anesthetics during medical surgeries






Study: Religion colors Americans' views of nanotechnology



Feb 15, 2008


Is nanotechnology morally acceptable? For a significant percentage of Americans, the answer is no, according to a recent survey of Americans' attitudes about the science of the very small.

Addressing scientists here today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dietram Scheufele, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of life sciences communication, presented new survey results that show religion exerts far more influence on public views of technology in the United States than in Europe. 

"Our data show a much lower percentage of people who agree that nanotechnology is morally acceptable in the U.S. than in Europe," says Scheufele, an expert on public opinion and science and technology. 

Nanotechnology is a branch of science and engineering devoted to the design and production of materials, structures, devices and circuits at the smallest achievable scale, typically in the realm of individual atoms and molecules. The ability to engineer matter at that scale has the potential to produce a vast array of new technologies that could influence everything from computers to medicine. Already, dozens of products containing nanoscale materials or devices are on the market. 
In a sample of 1,015 adult Americans, only 29.5 percent of respondents agreed that nanotechnology was morally acceptable. In European surveys that posed identical questions about nanotechnology to people in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, significantly higher percentages of people accepted the moral validity of the technology. In the United Kingdom, 54.1 percent found nanotechnology to be morally acceptable. In Germany, 62.7 percent had no moral qualms about nanotechnology, and in France 72.1 percent of survey respondents saw no problems with the technology. 

"There seem to be distinct differences between the United States and countries that are key players in nanotech in Europe, in terms of attitudes toward nanotechnology," says Scheufele. 

Why the big difference?

The answer, Scheufele believes, is religion: "The United States is a country where religion plays an important role in peoples' lives. The importance of religion in these different countries that shows up in data set after data set parallels exactly the differences we're seeing in terms of moral views. European countries have a much more secular perspective." 

The catch for Americans with strong religious convictions, Scheufele believes, is that nanotechnology, biotechnology and stem cell research are lumped together as means to enhance human qualities. In short, researchers are viewed as "playing God" when they create materials that do not occur in nature, especially where nanotechnology and biotechnology intertwine, says Scheufele. 

He conducted the U.S. survey with Arizona State University (ASU) colleague Elizabeth Corley under the auspices of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU. 

The moral qualms people of faith express about nanotechnology is not a question of ignorance of the technology, says Scheufele, explaining that survey respondents are well-informed about nanotechnology and its potential benefits. 

"They still oppose it," he says. "They are rejecting it based on religious beliefs. The issue isn't about informing these people. They are informed." 

The new study has critical implications for how experts explain the technology and its applications, Scheufele says. It means the scientific community needs to do a far better job of placing the technology in context and in understanding the attitudes of the American public. 

The survey was undertaken in the summer of 2007 by the UW-Madison Survey Center and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. 

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison


As examples, in industry, nanotechnology is being explored for use in making better paint, better coolants, to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to tumors (thus reducing the harmful side effects to the person), etc.


The word, “science”, comes from the Latin scientia, which means “knowledge”.  What does the Bible have to say about knowledge?  A small sample of its teaching follows:


16And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”  Gen 2

Perhaps a lesson here is that getting knowledge of evil, or doing what clearly goes against God’s will, is wrong.


18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  Rom 1

It is possible to know true things about God from the world he made, but many fail to do so.


18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:

     “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

       the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  1 Cor 1

It is not by wisdom and intelligence that we are saved, but by faith in the work of Jesus on the cross.  We needed a clear, special revelation from God to have a clear path to salvation.


8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.  Col 2

Some people use knowledge to deceive others, and to deliberately destroy their faith.


10For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 1 Cor 8

Even valid knowledge can be used in a negative way, with ungodly results.


7    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,

       but fools despise wisdom and discipline.  Prov 1

Knowledge that the Lord approves of is consistent with submission to him.


7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit … 1 Cor 12

Knowledge and wisdom are spiritual gifts.


1    The heavens declare the glory of God;

       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2    Day after day they pour forth speech;

       night after night they display knowledge.  Ps 19

Knowledge from nature is valid, and glorifies God.  This verse is one that is used to support the concept that we learn things from God through two sources, Natural and Special Revelation (the Bible).  Does Biblical support for Natural Revelation apply only to casual observations (like looking at the night sky), or to scientific study as well? 



17To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.  Dan 1

Even knowledge of secular subjects from a place like Babylon can be blessed by God.  This would have encompassed Babylonian knowledge of agriculture, metallurgy, medicine, writing, mathematics, and astronomy.  Essentially all of it was interlaced with pagan religious beliefs.  For example, astronomy was mixed with astrology.


8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 1 Cor 13

Our knowledge is incomplete at this time.


5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

     “‘He will command his angels concerning you,

       and they will lift you up in their hands,

            so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”  Matt 4


Knowledge of Scripture can be used for an evil purpose.


31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8

Jesus endorsed seeking truth.


Homework:  When science and the Bible seem to disagree:

For example, what is the shape of the Earth?  Is “heaven” the same as the “heavens”?  Is Hell under the Earth?  A sample of verses to consider:


1After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.  Rev 7


22            He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,

       and its people are like grasshoppers.

     He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,

       and spreads them out like a tent to live in.  Is 40


10            ….that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

       in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

       to the glory of God the Father.  Phil 2 (and see also Rev 5:3 and 5:13)


23In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  Luke 16


Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!20The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth21with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air Dan 4 (and see verses 10 and 11).


8   He raises the poor from the dust

       and lifts the needy from the ash heap;

     he seats them with princes

       and has them inherit a throne of honor.

     “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’S;

       upon them he has set the world. 1 Sam 2



12  “Have you ever given orders to the morning,

       or shown the dawn its place,

13  that it might take the earth by the edges

       and shake the wicked out of it?  Job 38


41Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.  Mark 6


29“Edom is there, her kings and all her princes; despite their power, they are laid with those killed by the sword. They lie with the uncircumcised, with those who go down to the pit.

30“All the princes of the north and all the Sidonians are there; they went down with the slain in disgrace despite the terror caused by their power. They lie uncircumcised with those killed by the sword and bear their shame with those who go down to the pit.  Ezek 32 (and see verses 14, 16, 18 and 23).


2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  2 Cor 12

And similarly see Job 9:6, Ps 102:25, Is 48:13.


       You may think about a related subject that we will discuss next week:  Does the Earth spin on an axis and thus make it only appear that the Sun goes across the sky, or does the Sun go around a stationary earth?  What does the Bible say about this? 


Class Schedule


Sept 7             Introduction

Sept 14          History of Science, Solar System, Mathematical Hermeneutics

Sept 21          Defense of young earth creationism

Sept 28          Conference on young earth creationism – review

Oct 5               Biblical Case for old earth creationism

Oct 12             Scientific Case for old earth creationism

Oct 19             Prayer, and continue scientific case for old earth creationism

Oct 26             Missions Conference – class will cover missions topic

Nov 2              Origin of Life and Evolution, Views on Human Origins

Nov 9              The Flood, Critique of old earth creationism

Nov 16            Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Nov 23            Prayer, UFOs, global warming

Nov 30            Astrology, Nature of Mankind

Dec 7              Archaeology

Dec 14           Summary


Head Ranter said...


I have a couple points. The first concerns you homework question.

You ask about when the Bible and science "seem" to disagree. I have come to believe that when I think that they don't agree, I don't really understand the discussion they are having. As I read through your list of apparent disagreements, I don't see any problems. "Four corners of the earth" a metaphor; "Visible to the whole earth" is language from a dream showing the expanse of the kings influence. The United States is visible to the whole earth. I see no contradictions.

This brings me to the one big problem: "six days." I have been seeking the truth and praying for wisdom for nearly all of my adult life. God has shown me that I don't need to be afraid of the basis my faith. The foundation is greater than the earth (is that possible?). God has promised to give answers to those who-seek.

One of Jesus godly traits was truth. When Pilot asked Him what truth was, Jesus was the answer. The heavens declare the glory of God. If we assume that creation happened in six days, we insist that God is a liar. Now either God is a liar or we don't understand the discussion. I would believe the latter.

I originally believed in a six day creation. Nobody has done more to convince me otherwise than learned Christians that insist that the six days must be literal. All I have seen from these Christians is cute phrases and punch lines. I have never heard a good theological argument that addresses the issues.

So, until I see better evidence than the heavens and the earth, I'll continue to believe that God is Truth and the heavens declare His glory.


Head Ranter said...

First, I agree that the Bible and science do not disagree. However, our understanding of the Bible may disagree with our understanding of science. Also, science may be immature in some areas, and may therefore be partially incorrect. These are major points that I hope to make in class. For example, you and I know that the "four corners of the earth" is a metaphor. But did the ancients know that? How did they know that? Maybe they did, since I think the same metaphor was used in other ways in the Bible. We know a lot from science. I think that the issues that I cited for homework are relatively easy. The issue about whether the Bible says that the Sun goes around the Earth or not is, I think, more challenging. We know what is what, but did the ancients know it? I will lead us into a hermeneutics discussion about this. By the way, I generally agree with your other comments.
I'm well aware that I haven't sent you a PowerPoint presentation yet. I've been very busy. I went to the annual Partin reunion in Ohio on Sunday after church. I studied for and passed a first level (Technician) FCC ham radio license test Monday night. Tuesday I didn't get home from work until 8:30pm. Last night I worked on the summary that is below. Tonight I started studying for the next FCC ham radio license (General) until half an hour ago. I'll be taking the test for that on this coming Monday night, and it's much more challenging than the first test. Tomorrow night Laina and I are going to do something with one of our old small groups from Kensington (since she still goes there). Saturday is when I'll finish preparing for Sunday's class, and finalize the PowerPoint slides. I'll get them to you via email by 7 pm at the latest. I'll send you something tonight, just so that you can verify that things look okay. Whatever I send you tonight will be just for practice - it may not turn up on the "final edition". Incidentally, I called CWC today and talked with Christy. I am trying to get a white board in the classroom to use for class discussion. She thought that they could get one.