Monthly Archives: May 2020

Science Is Not On Anyone’s Side—Because It Has No Conscience, No Politics, No Religion, No Heart, and No Soul

Some problems are difficult to solve. So many factors come into play, so many unknowns are…well…unknown. Private interests and preferences exert their influence. Entrenched social identities—class, race, gender, etc.—determine in advance which proposals get a hearing. Interminable arguments ensue with no obvious path to clarity and consensus in sight. Better to stay out of such quarrels.

However, some seemingly difficult problems have very simple solutions. And I want to deal today with one such a problem: Advocates of all sorts of causes claim that science is on their side. People on the other side are anti-scientific. They ignore the “facts,” and don’t follow the path charted by science. The solution to this problem is hiding in plain sight: in title of this essay. Science is not on anyone’s side! Because science has no conscience, no politics, no religion, no heart, and no soul. It supports no causes.

Allow me to use words I wrote a few years ago to explain why science doesn’t care about your causes—or mine:

Natural science seeks to make understandable the relationship of one set of empirical phenomena to another set of empirical phenomena by means of law-like generalization(s) or postulated causal relations or some other theoretical mediation. All of these mediating principles may be reduced to patterns of empirical phenomena. Or, if the theory refers to unobservable entities, these entities are still physical and manifest themselves in observable phenomena. This is the nature and the limit of natural science, whether physics, chemistry, biology, geology, or paleontology. Natural science studies the relationships within the created world among empirical phenomena, that is, the perceptions or sense data received through the five senses (The Faithful Creator, 2015).

Natural science does one thing. It describes and explains the empirical world in empirical terms. It speaks no other language and understands none. It adheres to no morality and supports none. It treasures no policy preferences and cares nothing for ours. It contemplates happiness or sadness, war or peace, and love or hate with equal indifference. Its methods and goals are the same whether studying the effects of poison or medicine. It can produce weapons of mass destruction or seek ways to feed the world’s hungry with equal efficiency. It doesn’t care. Science can count how many people die this year from infectious diseases and explain how, but it does not care in the least. It does matter to science how long you live, how happy you are, or how virtuous you become. Saint or devil, science makes no distinction. Why? Because it doesn’t care about anything! It can’t. Caring is not part of the scientific method. Its goal is to explain, not to heal or kill. comfort or torture.

So, get clear on this: whoever you are, whatever your cause, however passionate your devotion, science is not on your side. Because science doesn’t take sides! If you want to explain one set of empirical data with reference to another set of empirical date, science can help. But if you have a moral, political, religious, or esthetic question, don’t look to science for answers. It would be like asking a freeway sign whether you ought to vacation in Los Angeles or Miami. It won’t work, because…

Like freeway signs, science has no conscience, no politics, no religion, no heart, and no soul!

Atonement Book–Help Me Choose a Title

Dear Friends:

I haven’t been writing essays for this blog for a while. That’s because I’ve been trying to finish my latest book. It’s been over 5 years in the making, but I am almost finished! Within a week or two I will turn it over to my publisher, Cascade Press.

I’d like your help in choosing a title.

This book is about how Jesus saves human beings from everything that keeps us from becoming what we were created to be, that is, true images of God. In traditional terms, Jesus saves from sin, death, and the devil. I argue that the traditional and still popular evangelical doctrine of penal substitution—that God punished Jesus instead of us—is wrong and incomprehensible to our contemporaries, church or unchurched The liberal Protestant theory that Jesus “saves” only through the influence of his example is also wrong. That theory is too weak to deal the power of sin, evil, and death that dominates our world. I argue that Paul—and the church fathers Irenaeus and Athanasius—thought differently about the atonement. They see the atonement as recreating humanity and uniting us to God through Jesus’s life, activity, death and resurrection. The traditional theological terms for this way thinking are theosis—a Greek word meaning the process of becoming God or God-like—and recapitulation. That is, Jesus repeated or summed up the history of broken humanity and got it right. He rewrote history so that—to put it in common speech—it has a happy ending. And that happy ending is that we are raise to such glory that the church fathers called it deification. That is, we are given divine qualities like immortality, glory, and incorruptibility, to use Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 15.

The titles below reflect my indecision between titles that use the vocabulary of theology and those with more popular appeal.

Titles that appeal to the theologically literate:

  1. The Second Adam: Atonement Theology Beyond Penal Substitution
  2. The New Adam: Atonement Theology Beyond Penal Substitution
  3. The New Adam: Why the Early Church Got the Atonement Right and Evangelicals and Liberals Get it Wrong
  4. The Atonement: Why Paul, Irenaeus, and Athanasius Got it Right and Evangelicals and Liberals Get it Wrong

Titles that appeal also to the non-theologically literate reader:

  1. A New Beginning: How Jesus Rescues Us from Sin, Death, and the Devil
  2. A New Beginning: How Jesus Removes Our Guilt, Heals Our Wounds, Defeats Our Enemies, and Raises Us to Glory

Which of these titles do you think would make someone want to read this book?

Thanks for your help!