Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Tag: Faith

Furnished Faith

Jascha Heifetz

I should like to draw your attention this morning to 2 Peter 1:5-8

“Therefore give even all diligence thereunto: join moreover virtue with your faith: and with virtue, knowledge: And with knowledge, temperance: and with temperance, patience: and with patience, godliness: and with godliness, brotherly kindness: and with brotherly kindness, love. For if these things be among you, and abound, they will make you that ye neither shall be idle, nor unfruitful in the acknowledging of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jascha Heifetz

It was May 20, 1912 just a month after the historic Titanic’s sinking. The place was none other than the culture seat of the world, Berlin, at the home of Arthur Abell. The occasion was a private press matinee for the European debut of a new, unfamiliar violinist. The piece was Fritz Kreisler’s Schon Rosmarin. The august audience consisted of many leading violinists and musical figures of the time, including the incomparable Kreisler himself. It was a regal event to be sure. The music however for the performance was found to be missing so Kreisler stepped forward to replace the piano accompanist and perform with the new violinist his own piece of music from memory. With the distinguished Kreisler seated at the piano the time arrived for the violinist to take centre stage. The audience listened in anticipation to the soft footsteps trudging up the stage when a small boy of eleven appeared holding under a small hand his dear instrument. The bow itself was over half his height. With the violin tucked under his tiny chin the supple fingers began to effortlessly work the instrument into producing mellifluous, dulcet tones. The piece was finished and the result was pandemonium. Kreisler reported, “you should have seen the amazement on their faces.” Indeed Kreisler himself was surprised at this young virtuoso’s performance of his own piece of music as he confessed to the audience afterwards, “We might as well take our fiddles and smash them across our knees.” The eleven year old boy was Jascha Heifetz, regarded now as one of the greatest artists of all time. Although he was a virtuoso, Jascha was a musician of strict discipline. Much later in life he confessed to his students, “If I don’t practice one day, I can tell. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics can tell. If I don’t practice for three days, the public can tell.” This coming from a prodigy. Herein lies the reality of the Christian’s need for daily discipline and diligence. There is an element of Christian activity and we have to get a hold of this principle. The question is what can you tell of your current condition as a Christian? What can your critics  and opposition in the world tell? What can your brothers and sisters in the Lord tell?

Marasmic Malady

We can note that the Apostle Peter is indeed writing to Christians, but more particularly, Christians of a certain condition. A condition which is indicated in verse 8 as idle and unfruitful. This is a pitiful state in the Christian layman of spiritual lethargy which inevitably produces spiritual depression. This was an audience of miserable Christians. Though they were Christians (And they certainly were or else Peter wouldn’t be writing to them) they didn’t count for much. They lead ineffective lives without activity, accomplishment, or affect. They were tired. Marasmic. Indolent. Unaffected by their own sickness. In the words of Lloyde Jones, “The sort of person you have to grant that they are a Christian and yet there is so little in their life to show for it.” Such a marasmic malady is sadly not foreign to our time. This is not a 1st century problem and our interest in it is not merely theoretical. We too can correspond to Peter’s audience. We too know very little of the fullness of a Christian life. We too are unfamiliar with the meaning of Paul’s exhortation to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Yet what is the cause of such a condition? What can you even tell is your condition?

Fatigued Faith

Lloyde Jones observes, “The whole cause of trouble is the sheer absence of discipline and order in their lives.” There is a general type of indolence and fatigue which effects us all in matters of spiritual activity and is produced by none other than the Devil. With regards to the question of Christian life we do not experience the same vigour and vitality as we do with our other pleasures, business, or interests. If such a state of religious exhaustion continues the Apostle warns we will have “forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” Meaning, the life and energy which is to distinguish our current state from our past is so severely diminished that we find ourselves in a point of unemployed ambition, meaningless reality, and fatigued faith. We have forgotten why we are Christians and what it means to be such in the first place. This actuality is not evidence that we are not Christians, but rather that we are among the miserable Christians which Peter is writing to. Is your faith fatigued? What can you tell?

Magical & Mystical Faith

Another cause of this marasmic malady is a wrong view of faith in the first instance. As noted by Lloyde Jones there are primarily two errors persisting in modern day with regards to the subject of faith. The first is a magical view of faith and the second is a mystical one. Some Christians regard their faith as being quite magical. The notion that it happens all by itself. God makes it appear in our lives and from thereon is automatically works in our life. You needn’t do anything to it because it will function and develop of its own accord. They regard it as though it were some vestigial internal organ of the soul and not a muscle to be exercised. The second notion, which is quite related, is a mystical one. It is a conception of faith that considers it as a whole and measures it in terms of a personal relationship to Christ. Negatively speaking they do not recognize it in component elements as Peter does. Faith to them is merely to be continually waiting and looking upon the Lord.  The only activity required on our part is passivity. Their mantra is to abide in the Lord as the only thing to do. Naturally such rational, no matter how oft repeated or reevaluated, can only produce spiritual lethargy. So these together, an erroneous view of faith and a spiritual indolence, are the most productive cause of spiritual depression. Lloyd Jones admonished, “The modern heresy in protestantism and perhaps dare I say, evangelicalism, is that in our fear of justification by works we have been tempted to say works don’t matter. Antinomianism in other words. Faith alone counts, and because I’m a man of faith it doesn’t matter very much what I do. My life can be thoroughly lacking in discipline… The opposite to trusting in your works is not to do nothing it is to do everything but not to trust them. It is not the works that are wrong it is the trust in your works, that your works are meritorious.”  This abuse of justification by faith, this abuse of the perseverance of the saints, this kind of new, reformed antinomianism affects our interest in the Gospel as consisting in purely intellectual terms. Where faith in the whole is an intellectual assent by which one grasps the Gospel’s dogma and doctrine, one understands it, revels in it, expounds with it, but stops at that as though nothing more is necessary to it. Faith involves the whole personality. Not exclusively the mind through intellectual propositions, but inclusively also the heart, the will, and the personal behaviour. There is nothing contradictory or incongruous here to us as custodians of faith. What can you tell of your understanding of faith?

Discipline

“Give even all diligence.” This is not an admonishment to passivity. Just to surrender it all to God, that we have nothing to do with regards to our faith. This is utterly unscriptural. “The treatment prescribed by the Apostle for his condition is to make every effort, exercise discipline, management, and order.”Lloyd Jones. Herein is the element of our activity. We are concerned with being as active as possible, but only as active as we are empowered by the Lord. “To be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Indeed it is His might but is is also in us. Just as Jascha found his capacity for music within so likewise we have latent, and inherent faith to be practiced in us. Likewise Peter exhorts us to “Giving all diligence, add to your faith.” Faith was put into us at rebirth, but it is for us to develop it, supplement it, furnish it out, and actually add to it. It is not going to be added for you. It is our activity. Again, your faith is not automatic or magical. Again, you must add to it, it is not a mystical all-encompassing, full, complete entity.  There is more to it and there is more you have to do with it. Herein lies so much of the confusion about spiritual development and power. Peter reaffirms this principle later, “Give rather diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Granted you cannot elect yourself, but you can diligently give affirmation to it. “For if you do these things, ye shall never fall.” You have got to be doing them. There is no doctrine of passivity with regards to faith. So be diligent. Negatively, do not dismiss the need of personal diligence. Understand that such passivity runs the risk of spiritual depression and religious lethargy. Acknowledge that no progress or development will ever be realized in your faith apart from attending to it with all diligence. An undisciplined army is a defeated army. Spiritual discipline combats spiritual depression mightily. Which can you tell is your spiritual state?

Furnish Your Faith

We all have experienced that discipline without direction is drudgery. So how are we then to direct our discipline? By adding to your faith. “The first thing is the sheer necessity of discipline, and order, and arrangement. The second is that we have to supplement our faith.” Lloyd Jones. The best depiction of the term “Add” is “Furnish.” In other terms we are to furnish out our faith. Supplement our faith. We are to think of it as supplying our faith. Don’t be satisfied with leaving it as it is, go ahead and furnish it out. Is it complete, cultivated, fuller, and developed? What can you tell?

Moral Energy

Firstly, we are to furnish out our faith with virtue. By virtue we mean not the common connotation of goodness, but rather virtue as strength, acting power, or something efficacious. Lloyde Jones describes it as “Moral Energy.” We understand something of this from Mark 5:30 where Christ was touched by the woman with an issue of blood and “Immediately Jesus did know in himself the virtue that went out of him.” Similarly, we are to add to our faith the selfsame virtue that was in Christ. Indeed such a virtue is quite unfamiliar to ourselves. Christ sensed it flowing from him whereas we can hardly sense it flowing in us. Considering again that Peter is writing to Christians experiencing a condition that is languid, undisciplined, and slack thusly his exhortation to moral energy is first and foremost. You have been regenerated with faith and in addition you must cease to be languid. Positively stated you must supplement your faith with moral energy, grit, power, might, and strength. Arouse and awake yourself. If you were to go about treating anything in life as lethargically as you do your faith hardly anything good would come of it. Far to many latitudinarian Christians suffer from the mumps and measles of the soul. Without this virtue, this vigour, added to your faith the depression and lethargy will go by unaffected. What can you tell?

Insight

Second we are to furnish out our faith with knowledge. Now that we have the energy to act we must know what to act upon and how to do so. This knowledge is not merely doctrinal or scholarly conclusions, but more particularly, Christian insight, understanding, and enlightenment. You have to know the Christian life. You have to know the wiles and temptations about you. You have to know the efficacy of discipline and diligence. You have to know your religion, its ordinances, and your duties in it. Such insight is only attained by diligent attendance to the Scriptures. What can you tell by your observances of Scripture?

Self-Control

Temperance simply means self-control and self-control simply means control of yourself. More specifically of your appetites, lusts, passions, and desires. Webster defines it as “Moderation; particularly, habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions; restrained or moderate indulgence; as temperance in eating and drinking; temperance in the indulgence of joy or mirth. Temperance in eating and drinking is opposed to gluttony and drunkenness, and in other indulgences, to excess.” Indeed what is a greater producer of spiritual and physical lethargy than inordinate indulgence? You can experience no furbishment of your faith or diligence of discipline apart from controlling every aspect of your life. We experience so little of virtue because we expend so much of it by our appetites. Self control is one of the most evident marks of being Spirit controlled. So what can you tell?

Patient Endurance

Patient endurance is also to be furnished to our faith. As with all disciplines they are not merely to be started but to be continued. It is a daily, moment by moment continuing under pain or distress without sinking or yielding to the pressure of the religious lethargy which besets us. Peter assures us that if we patiently endure “Ye shall never fall.”Indeed when we have fallen has it not been due to an implicit failure in this regard? Do you know this? Can you tell?

Can They Tell?

The later three furbishments are towards others. Namely, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Interestingly this is something too which we are to add to our faith. We can add godliness. Lloyde Jones plainly comments godliness as, “Maintain your attitude towards God.” Consciously walk in the sight of God. This is piety.  Do your diligence as though it is done in the sight of God Himself. Exercise your discipline in view of His viewing you. Webster defines, “A careful observance of the laws of God and performance of religious duties, proceeding from love and reverence for the divine character and commands of Christian obedience.” And of brotherly kindness Webster writes, “Good will; benevolence; that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants, or alleviating their distresses.” There are many Christians who deprive themselves of strength and might as they deprive themselves of the brethren. Loving the brethren is rather a proof of life as the Apostle John states. Some of our lives look the complete opposite of Peter’s exhortation. Our attitude towards this would read thusly, “Do the least you can, and see that your faith carries with it inability. Your inability must be accompanied by ignorance, your ignorance by indulgence, your indulgence by inaction. Your inaction too must always be accompanied by inconstancy to God; that in turn must have the quality of incivility, and your incivility must lead to indifference.” What can they tell?

Commanded to Character

It is interesting to observe that always in Scripture we are exhorted towards character, not specially towards particular deeds or disciplines. You can have some character without discipline. It will be weak and frail. You will be counted among Peter’s idle and barren Christians, but Christian nonetheless. However there is a discipline without Christian character. Such is the disciplines of the pharisees and sadducees. Peter does not list us to add prayer, meditation, memorization, silence, solitude, fasting, and reading to our faith. We are to furnish our faith not with disciplines but with character. We add character only by discipline. Though we, like Jascha Heirfetz, have latent and inherent vigour in our respective capacities it still behooves us to furnish it out through diligent discipline.  We need discipline ourselves as regenerated believers as much as Jascha needed to practice as a prodigy. Lloyd Jones comments,“The most essential thing in the development of any power, faculty, any force that is latent within us is the more exercise the more developed they become.” So if I don’t discipline myself one day, I can tell. If I don’t discipline myself for two days, my oppressors can tell. If I don’t diligently discipline myself for three days, my brethren can tell. What can they tell? What are they and God concerned primarily with? My disciplines? No. Rather what my disciplines produce, namely, character. We mustn’t confuse diligent discipline as either the beginning of faith or the end of it. The triune God begins faith in us and Christian character is the end of it. Diligent discipline only affirms the former and supplies the latter. This progression of faith’s beginning in the sovereignty of God and end in the full character of Christ does not happen by itself, it does not happen to it, we are to do it and discipline is required. If you are currently in a mesmeric malady, experiencing spiritual lethargy and depression, arrest yourself. Arouse and shake off your languidness. Arise and incite within you a moral vigour, a spiritual energy. Saturate your mind with Scriptural insight. Restrain yourself from those inordinate appetites which so easily beset and fatigue you. Patiently endure the character building process of such diligent discipline. Do so in the sight of God for the sake of the brethren in love. “For if these things be among you, and abound, they will make you that ye neither shall be idle, nor unfruitful in the acknowledging of our Lord Jesus Christ.” May zeal for the Lord consume you.

Let us therefore be up and doing.

Is Science Good for the World?

Rusticated in a small, bucolic village their lived two priests who were responsible for their own respective parishes. Both priests had a dilemma, and that was the desire to smoke while they prayed. To resolve this quandary both decided to write to the Pope in inquiry. The one priest wrote to the Pope, “Is it permissible to smoke while praying?” to which the Pope reposted that it was not, since prayer should be the focus of one’s whole attention. Now, the other priest, being more crafty than his contemporary wrote to the Pope and asked tactfully, “Is it permissible to pray while smoking?” To which he frabjously received the reply that it is was, since it is always appropriate to pray. The moral of the story is that the form of every question may hinder us from identifying the answers to problems that otherwise become noticeable when the question is ever so slightly rephrased. Hence the title of this lecture “Is Science Good for the World?” You may find it humorous for the fact that it is a word-play and slight alteration to  one of our culture’s more clamorous debate titles, namely, Is Religion Good for the World? We have witnessed the new atheist movement mantle its intelligentsia on this issue with such polemics as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. In 2010 Hitchens engaged in the enormously popular Munk debate with former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, entitled, “Is Religion a Force for Good or Ill?” In 2007 Hitchens and pastor Douglas Wilson published a series of written exchanges on the topic of “Is Christianity Good for the World?” and in the following year filmed a documentary on the same subject. Both Dawkins and Hitchens have respectively debated with the Christian Oxford Mathematician, John Lennox, over “The God Delusion” and “God is not Great”.  Dawkins has written, “As a scientist, I am hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. It teaches us not to change our minds, and not to want to know exciting things that are available to be known. It subverts science and saps the intellect.” Hitchens likewise, “There are, indeed, several ways in which religion is not just amoral, but positively immoral. And these faults and crimes are not to be found in the behaviour of its adherents (Which can sometimes be exemplary) but in its original precepts.” I herein have entertained the notion to hoist these assayer’s own petard by interchanging the object of the discourse. The inquiry now concerns whether or not science is good for the world. Is science a force for good or ill? Is science a delusion? Is science even great?

Science Poisons Everything

The mechanical clock was a remarkable invention of the Benedictine monks of the thirteenth century. It was conceived as a instrument to regulate the seven times of devotion to be conducted each day. It provided a salient solution to the quandary of maintaining routine. The clock thus originated as an instrument of worship, a mechanism to advance holiness. However, the Benedictine monks did not foresee the revolution it would bring forth once it moved outside their monastery walls. Once the merchants had obtained this new scientific technology, they transformed the material world by it. It opened the possibility and birthed the reality of regular production and labor. It made possible Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations.” As Neil Postman wrote, “The clock was invented by men who wanted to devote themselves more rigorously to God; it ended as the technology of greatest use to men who wished to devote themselves to the accumulation of money.” It transmogrified from an instrument of righteousness to an instrument of mammon. Similarly when Galileo took hold of Johann Lippershey’s toy and transformed it into an instrument of science that we now call the telescope, it was to discover the glories of God’s heavens in a manner that had not been possible before. Like the Benedictine monks, Galileo could not foresee the injury this instrument would do to the offices of the Roman Church by collapsing it’s geocentric doctrine. With righteous pure intention, devoid and unadulterated by any inclination toward subverting religion, the sciences of these men eventually deposed the very design of their contrivance. These events (Among the other inventions and technologies such as the printing press and stethoscope as Postman would argue) were the accouchement of modern science. These new instruments simply didn’t add or subtract from the world, rather, they changed both the world and its words. With the invention of the telescope “heavens” took upon itself an entirely new meaning, for no longer was it an abstract expression of God’s glory and man’s centre in it.  Societies perception of reality, meaning, and truth was reordered. With the invention of the clock whole nation’s were now commandeered by a capitalism endowed with order. Their interests and what they thought about was restructured. With the invention of the printing press “knowledge” received an entirely new definition and purpose. With new technologies competing for a dominance of world-view over the old technologies, institutions, (Especially the church and state) were threatened and created a cultural crisis. Postman critiqued, “Technologies change what we mean by “knowing” and “truth”; they alter those deeply embedded habits of thought which give to a culture its sense of what the world is like – a sense of what is the natural order of things, of what is reasonable, of what is necessary, of what is inevitable, of what is real.” Science was now the prolegomenon of the future and in this future man could scientifically measure all things. When man is the one measuring all things, he himself becomes the measure of all things. Man was now more interested in the age of rocks than the Rock of Ages. Science poisons everything.

The Poison in Science

The poison in science is its’ major tenant that we can know everything about the science of anything by science and science alone. So it is its own end and its own means or as Henry David Thoreau stated of technology, “Inventions are but an unimproved means to an unimproved end.” In our neurosis for assimilating how to measure all things, the inquiry as to why we measure all things also abates in relevance. The poison is in science for the sake of science. Science tells us that we must develop our knowledge of truth, meaning, and value absolutely on our own initiative by rationally building out from ourselves, having only man as our integration point. This is no more than one pulling himself up by his own bootstraps. Francis Schaeffer wrote in The God Who is There of this kind of rationalism, “If you want to understand the century you live in, you must realize that it is not the outward form which the dialectic takes which is the real enemy. This may be expressed in theistic or atheistic forms. The real enemy is not the form it takes, but the dialectical methodology itself.” We have deified  science to the point where it validates our meaning, it authorizes our actions and it satisfies our wants. Those most affable to this poison are those who recognize science as the chief achievement of man and the solution to all our extremities. In the time of the Benedictine monks, Galileo, and the Gutenberg Press people believed in the authority of their religion, no matter what. Today, we believe in the authority of our science, no matter what. And as Postman argued, “We believe, because their is no reason not to believe.” Furthermore science is best prescribed and performed by experts such as our friends Dawkins and Hitchens. As Postman said, “We must not be dazzled or deluded by differences in method between preachers and scholars.” For these and other scientist do not merely diktat scientific laws of biological or chemical matters, but arrogate our social and moral affairs such as preachers would. With the weakening of the church and historic cultural institutions by the invasion of new technologies and sciences the people lose confidence in these old values and tradition. The Galileo Heliocentric Trial and three hundred years later the Scopes Monkey Trial illustrate the enfeebling of our institutions as Postman argued, “In their defeat, more was lost than the Bible’s claim to explain the origins and structure of nature. The Bible’s authority in defining and categorizing moral behaviour was also weakened.” Herein science’s cognoscenti come to fill in the vacuum left by the institution of the church. Neil Postman in his book Technopoly provides a Huxleyan like prophesy of this, “In Technopoly, all experts are invested with the charisma of priestliness. Some of our priest-experts are called psychiatrists, some psychologists, some sociologists, some statisticians (And I would add, some are called scientists). The god they serve does not speak of righteousness or goodness or mercy or grace. Their god speaks of efficiency, precision, objectivity. And that is why such concepts as sin and evil disappear in Technopoly. They come from a moral universe that is irrelevant to the theology of expertise. And so the priests of Technopoly call sin “social deviance,” which is a statistical concept, and they call evil “psychopathology,” which is a medical concept. Sin and evil disappear because they cannot be measured and objectified, and therefore cannot be dealt with by experts.” We live and are encompassed by the age of science and are desensitized to these very ideologies, to the poison of our science. Postman dissected this poison into three principal parts, “The first and indispensable idea is, as noted, that the methods of the natural sciences can be applied to the study of human behavior. The second idea is, as also noted, that social science generates specific principles which can be used to organize society on a rational and humane basis. The third idea is that faith in science can serve as a comprehensive belief system that gives meaning to life, as well as a sense of well-being, morality, and even immortality.” Before and since the mechanical clock the increasingly secularized scientific world is looking for an alternative moral authority to the church. In their desperation they plead, wish, and hope for the natural scientist to say it is science that speaks, not the subjective, frail judgments of mere mortals, to moral issues. They long for the illusion that their data, their structures, their procedures, their science speak as accurately, precisely, quantifiably, and reliably on moral matters as they do on material matters. That science not only is the solution for the narrative of life, but even provides us with the narrative in the first place. This kind of science is a poison.

The Science Delusion

The delusion of this kind of science is simple. To put it in the basic explanation of John Lennox, “Science can tell you that, if you add strychnine to your grandmother’s tea, it will kill her. But science cannot tell you whether it is morally right or wrong to put strychnine into your grandmother’s tea so that you can get your hands on her property.” Real science, natural science, principled science, can explain how the world around us operates, but it cannot explain why or how it morally and metaphysically ought to. Or as Postman wrote, “Science can tell us when a heart begins to beat, or movement begins, or what are the statistics on the survival of neonates of different gestational ages outside the womb. But science has no more authority than you do or I do to establish such criteria as the “true” definition of “life” or of human state or of personhood.” None of the experts of modern science can quantify or qualify values to metaphysical and moral matters. They cannot be measured, to attempt such would be a misapplication of technique. Postman identified this impasse of quantifying metaphysicals in Technopoly, “The first problem is called reification, which means converting an abstract idea (mostly, a word) into a thing. The second problem is ranking. Ranking requires a criterion for assigning individuals to their place in a single series”  So no matter how desperate the cry for a new moral authority, science has no answer, anything else is a romantic delusion.

Science is not Great

“Christianity on the other hand is not romantic; it is realistic” writes Schaeffer, “Christianity is realistic because it says that if there is no truth, there is also no hope; and there can be no truth if there is no adequate base. It is prepared to face the consequences of being proved false and say with Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer… Christianity does not look over this tired and burdened world and say that it is slightly flawed, a little chipped, but easily mended. Christianity is realistic and says the world is marked with evil and man is truly guilty all along the line. Christianity refuses to say that you can be hopeful for the future if you are basing your hope on evidence of change for the better in mankind. The Christian agrees with the people in genuine despair that the world must be looked at realistically, whether in the area of Being or morals.” Neither though is Christianity nihilistic as principled science would leave the individual, without salvific word on moral authority or redemption. Christianity alone gives the answer to the meaninglessness that principled science logically concludes with. Christianity answers that our revolt has separated us from the God who is there, and this God who is there is not silent, but has sent his only begotten Son. Science is not great enough to measure all things (i.e. Being, morals, metaphysics) and science is not great enough to be the measure of all things.

Science Kills

So then is this poison of science good for the world? Is the delusion that man can scientifically measure issues of morality, being, and metaphysics a force for good? These are but rhetorical questions. When we, as the crafty priest, rephrase the question, we find, in Marshall McLuhan’s words, “The medium is the message.” That is to say that scientism is not just a vehicle of knowledge, but it has become the driver. “Along the way” Postman wrote, “It ceased to be merely a servant of social institutions and became their master.” Scientism we now observe has ideologies and a teleological concept. The plinth of this concept is that all things can be calculated. Not just the age of rocks, or weight of microscopic matter, or human anatomy, but even the worth of these things. Even human beings and their souls as Michel Foucault phrased become, “A calculable person.” The illusionary ability to assign a concrete, logical number to an abstract idea. This is a fairly tale like question, “Who is the fairest of them all?” As if we can measure beauty, intelligence, and life itself. This fairyland makes possible the discipline of eugenics, genocide, abortion, censorship, and other such atrocities where science commandeers itself outside the physical world into the metaphysical. History has only to tell us that this science has and does kill, literally.

Science a By-Product of Religion

The greatest prestidigitation of science is the illusion of being able to give authority to the realm of morality. Pastor Douglas Wilson in his Huffington post article, “Athiests Suck at Being Athiests” removes the smoke and mirrors behind such a nefarious claim. “So if the universe is what the atheist maintains it is, then this determines what sort of account we must give for the nature of everything — and this includes the atheist’s thought processes, ethical convictions, and aesthetic appreciations. If you were to shake up two bottles of pop and place them on a table to fizz over, you could not fill up an auditorium with people who came to watch them debate. This is because they are not debating; they are just fizzing. If you were to shake up one bottle of pop, and show it film footage of some genocidal atrocity, the reaction you would get is not moral outrage, but rather more fizzing. And if you were to shake it really hard by means of art school, and place it in front of Michelangelo’s David, or the Rose Window of Chartres Cathedral, the results would not really be aesthetic appreciation, but more fizzing still.” If you remove the romanticism from science you are left with an abject despair, because all science can really observe about morality is that the universe doesn’t care, it just keeps on fizzing and so should we. Yet in their romantic fantasy they still make pronounced moral claims. Take Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion.” “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Once again, Dawkins, as a scientist could very well make such observations about the God of the Old Testament, but what he is limited to do as a scientist is assert whether such attributes of the God of the Old Testament are good or evil, great or pathetic. When Dawkins and science would declare that such attributes are, for instance, bad they are speaking as men not scientists. Furthermore, they are speaking as men who borrow Christian capital to arrange their own sense of morality and they use this concoction of morality to poison Christianity in return. Science hereby becomes a by-product of religion that hijacks the vehicle of religion and crashes it into a tree.

Child Abuse

The new atheist movement has held little reserve in expressing its rage toward the teaching of religion to children by parents and persons of trust. Dawkins wrote, “I am persuaded that the phrase ‘child abuse’ is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshaven mortal sins in an eternal hell.” Hitchens similarly in “God is not Great” writes, “When we consider whether religion has “done more harm than good” – not that this would say anything at all about its truth or authenticity – we are faced with an imponderably large question. How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith?… But we can be sure that religion has always hoped to practice upon the unformed and undefended minds of the young, and has gone to great lengths to make sure of this privilege by making alliances with secular powers in the material world.” Hence in the age of scientism, schools have replaced the institution of the Church and become science’s firs bureaucracies. Bureacracies designed for the governing of, as Postman said, “The ecology of information.” Yet science has poisoned this institution as well with the chimera of being purely scientific in the sense of being religiously and morally neutral, object, and observatory in its content, methodology, and culture. As Cornelious Van Till observed, “Brute factuality does not exist.” That is to say, all facts must be interpreted to have meaning. Furthermore, the selection of facts we include and exclude in our education system reflect as Postman argued, “The theory of the purpose and meaning of education.” Doug Phillips in his excellent article, “Education Choices are Not Neutral” remarks, “The very culture in which education takes place is a reflection of the religious assumptions, values, beliefs, and character qualities of the people who form the environment in which education takes place.” The poison in the school institutions of the scientistic age is the guise of moral neutrality when in reality it has no moral center. It is an education which has been emptied of a coherent worldview, a meaningful narrative of life, a teleological concept, a moral, intellectual, and social centre. It is Dawkins platitude, “Children should be taught not so much what to think as how to think… The important point is that it is their privilege to decide what they shall think and not heir parents; privilege to impose it by force majeure.” This is an ineffable abuse, of the souls of countless children today in school institutions being expunged of reality and surrogated with the poisonous myth of science being both the measurer and measure of all things. The incalculable damaging effect of having their worth and meaning calculated for them by the austere scientism medium.

Resistance Fighters

The only coherent worldview, complete narrative, and moral authority can be found in the Scriptures. The words therein are true and sufficient for all of life and godliness. True science may indeed reveal to us the “how” in the operations of this physical world. But if we are left only with this science, it will lead inevitably to a rationalism of despair or an empiricism of romance. Both are insufficient and poisonous to societies. What’s required is not an additive, but rather a base consisting of the true revelation to us of the “why” in the operations of this physical and metaphysical world. We must be watchful and wary of the ideologies that are the invisible hand behind new technologies and sciences as the Benedictine monk and Galileo and the Gutenberg press exemplify. We must be attentive to what things we measure by science and leave that which cannot be measured untouched. While we may use science to measure certain things we must not permit science to become the measure of all things. We must free ourselves from the magical delusion of science having the ability to calculate the worth of being and ideas. We must not regard the lauded scientific calculation of our age and society as an adequate substitute to judgment or synonym to truth. We must not lose the battle of definitions that are waged against old traditions and words by new institutions and technologies. We must rather take seriously the institution of the Church as being the depository of the doctrine and words of God. We must furthermore refute science being an institution that acts as the depository, producer, and wholesaler of truth. We admire science but do not embrace it as the chief end of man.