Category Archives: Pandemic

Letter to a Discouraged Student

I share with you today a letter I wrote to one of my students. Months of lockdown, isolation, and uncertainty, is finally getting her down. A few days ago I wrote her a note hoping to remind her of what I know she believes in her heart of hearts. Unexpectedly, I found myself also reminded of what I believe and encouraged thereby. Perhaps it will remind you as well.

Dear Jody [Not her real name]:

I’ve been thinking over our recent conversation about the mood of discouragement that has come upon you in this time of isolation and uncertainty. I want to give you a word of encouragement. As our problems clamor for attention, it is easy to forget life’s most important issue the resolution of which will pronounce the verdict on our whole lives: will we remain faithful, do we really love God above all things, and do we trust him in life and in death. In all circumstances, this is the most important decision we must make. We have expectations and plans for our lives, and when they do not unfold as we had hoped, we feel abandoned by God. Jesus, the apostles, and all the saints of the Bible and Christian history tell us, however, that should not expect to have easy lives, with worldly success after success coming our way. Christ-formed souls cannot be mass produced on the broad way of comfort; they are forged in the furnace of testing, purified in the wilderness of loneliness, and made strong through bearing the cross.

We can be certain that God will give us what we need to win the real war and achieve true success. We need to get clear on this: no matter what happens to us, God has not and never will abandon us! Suffering, loss, and pain are not signs of God’s abandonment. Not at all! If we embrace these things as from the hand of our Father in heaven, they will remind us that the real battle is for our souls, not for our bodies, reputations, possessions, and successes. Even if you “lose” all these worldly things, you lose nothing of lasting value if you hold on to God. So, my word to you is this: determine now that you will trust him whatever the circumstances and that you will follow him to whatever end. Nothing in all creation can take from you the most precious thing you have: you are loved by your Father in heaven and by Jesus your Savior more than you can imagine.

May his Spirit pour his love into your heart so that you are lifted above all your troubles and look down on them as “light and momentary” (2 Cor 4:17) and as “not worth comparing” (Rom 8:18) to what we have and are promised. And remember Jesus’s words: “Do not be afraid” (Luke 12:32). Imagine him standing before you and saying those words to you in your circumstances. Well…he is alive, and he is saying them to you and to me. Let us receive them into our hearts and minds.


Dr Highfield

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!