Who is afraid of science? Maybe the one who is quoted below?
Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against __________. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see. There have been sad cases among the modern physicists. If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don’t let him get away from that invaluable ‘real life’. But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is ‘the results of modern investigation’. Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young ______ talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!
Is Someone Afraid Of Science?
Clearly, the answer is yes.
But – who?
This was originally written on January 28, 2011.
I’ll put the updates in text like this, so you can tell what’s new.
For one thing, after someone I know and trust told me I need to have more of an explanation for some of what I write, I’m thinking that’s especially true for the science series. So, I’m going to essentially rewrite the entire series before adding more to it. The series page is here, so if you’re interested in it – you can check back from time to time. Or, if you’d like to save yourself the trouble of checking back, you can subscribe to / follow the site via email (right hand side, near the top; or Twitter, Facebook, Google+, RSS (at the very top, ).
Who is afraid of science?
But I’m not going to tell you where – not yet.
Also – note there are two words that are left out.
Here’s the question. Who exactly is it that’s so afraid of science that they don’t want the truth to get out?
One might think I’m going to say that it’s Christians being talked about in the clip above. Many Christians would probably agree, too. We’re taught to think that science disproves so much of what’s in the Bible.
On top of that, many people are taught that science is too hard to understand. The truth is, pretty much anything can be made to seem to hard to understand. If someone uses really big words – words that are only known to the “insiders” in whatever field it may be – anyone on the “outside” probably wouldn’t have a clue what’s being talked about. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
For instance – what follows isn’t even advanced – it’s more an intermediate explanation of something called “string theory”, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Please at least skim through the whole thing. Afterwards, I’ll tell you what you really need to get out of it.
There are four fundamental forces in the universe: gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. Each of these is produced by fundamental particles that act as carriers of the force. The most familiar of these is the photon, a particle of light, which is the mediator of electromagnetic forces. (This means that, for instance, a magnet attracts a nail because both objects exchange photons.) The graviton is the particle associated with gravity. The strong force is carried by eight particles known as gluons. Finally, the weak force is transmitted by three particles, the W+, the W- , and the Z.
The behavior of all of these particles and forces is described with impeccable precision by the Standard Model, with one notable exception: gravity. For technical reasons, the gravitational force, the most familiar in our every day lives, has proven very difficult to describe microscopically. This has been for many years one of the most important problems in theoretical physics– to formulate a quantum theory of gravity.
In the last few decades, string theory has emerged as the most promising candidate for a microscopic theory of gravity. And it is infinitely more ambitious than that: it attempts to provide a complete, unified, and consistent description of the fundamental structure of our universe. (For this reason it is sometimes, quite arrogantly, called a ‘Theory of Everything’).
The essential idea behind string theory is this: all of the different ‘fundamental ‘ particles of the Standard Model are really just different manifestations of one basic object: a string. How can that be? Well, we would ordinarily picture an electron, for instance, as a point with no internal structure. A point cannot do anything but move. But, if string theory is correct, then under an extremely powerful ‘microscope’ we would realize that the electron is not really a point, but a tiny loop of string. A string can do something aside from moving— it can oscillate in different ways. If it oscillates a certain way, then from a distance, unable to tell it is really a string, we see an electron. But if it oscillates some other way, well, then we call it a photon, or a quark, or a … you get the idea. So, if string theory is correct, the entire world is made of strings!
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about string theory is that such a simple idea works— it is possible to derive (an extension of) the Standard Model (which has been verified experimentally with incredible precision) from a theory of strings. But it should also be said that, to date, there is no direct experimental evidence that string theory itself is the correct description of Nature. This is mostly due to the fact that string theory is still under development. We know bits and pieces of it, but we do not yet see the whole picture, and we are therefore unable to make definite predictions. In recent years many exciting developments have taken place, radically improving our understanding of what the theory is.
So, in all that, here’s the key parts for what I want to show you –
The essential idea behind string theory is this: all of the different ‘fundamental ‘ particles of the Standard Model are really just different manifestations of one basic object: a string.
A string can do something aside from moving— it can oscillate in different ways. If it oscillates a certain way, then from a distance, unable to tell it is really a string, we see an electron. But if it oscillates some other way, well, then we call it a photon, or a quark, or a … you get the idea. So, if string theory is correct, the entire world is made of strings!
What we get out of that is that everything is made of one basic object – a “string”. And how a string “oscillates” determines exactly what any given object is – no matter how small it may be. Now – for those who aren’t familiar with the word “oscillate” – I want to show you a bit more about just how difficult the “insiders” make it for other to understand what they’re talking about – and make it so mysterious – and make the rest of us think we’ll never understand. If we look up the word oscillate, here’s what we see –
Isn’t that just great? Oscillate in physics, which is what we’re talking about here, means to generate oscillations. Awesome! If you didn’t know what oscillate meant before reading this definition – you still don’t.
So, let’s look up “oscillation” –
1. an effect expressible as a quantity that repeatedly and regularly fluctuates above and below some mean value, as the pressure of a sound wave or the voltage of an alternating current.
2. a single fluctuation between maximum and minimum values in such an effect.
what does it mean?
Now we’re getting somewhere. It’s like a sound wave.
It can’t be an ordinary sound wave, like when we talk – our vocal chords vibrate, causing “oscillations” – sound waves – to move through the air. Assuming we’re close enough, these sound waves hit our ears, the ear drum vibrates according to those sound waves – and our brain interprets those sound waves into the words that were spoken. While the entire process in quite complicated, when it’s reduced to something that we live with every day, we can understand enough of what’s going on to have some meaning attached to it.
Remember, I said it can’t be an ordinary sound wave. When we talk, without the aid of a microphone and speakers, the distance our voice – those oscillating sounds waves – can travel is quite limited. Even with huge powerful speakers – it’s still not very far, especially when compared to the size of the earth. We could call someone on the phone, Skype, talk on the radio or TV – but it’s still limited. At the very least – only the people actually listening will hear even something streamed over the internet, which is world-wide.
Furthermore, the earth isn’t the target we’re looking for anyway. We’re talking the universe here. And the universe is infinite. It has no end. Actually – there’s another one of those science / hard to understand things. Look at it this way – if the universe wasn’t infinite, then it would have an end, someplace. It’s like it would have to be in some incredibly huge “box”. But that begs the question – what’s outside of the box? Answer – there is no box, and there’s no end to the universe.
All of that begs one more question. What or who is capable of causing some kind of “oscillation” / sound wave type of motion that goes literally everywhere? Even more so – a wave that affects literally everything, whether that “thing” is listening or not – remember the problem of us using the phone.
Back to the beginning
How about this for an answer –
Ge 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Ge 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Ge 1:6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
Ge 1:9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
Ge 1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Ge 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
Ge 1:20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
Ge 1:24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Ge 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Ge 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Ge 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Ge 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array
Yes – God said. And when God “speaks” – things happen.
Back to the quote: who is afraid of science?
Let me tell you a little more about the quote.
Yes – it’s from a book.
It’s from a letter – written by an uncle to his nephew – who the uncle is trying to mentor.
The uncle is an experienced worker – his nephew is in training.
The book was written in the 1940’s.
As you may have noticed by the spelling, it’s from England.
Well – it’s Uncle Screwtape – writing to his nephew Wormwood.
Wormwood is one of the “young fiends” (second missing word),
who is learning to recruit souls for His Father Below – Satan,
being told not to use science as a “defence against Christianity“.
The Screwtape Letters is from the 1940’s – by C. S. Lewis.
If you’d like to know about the book, I have a study guide here.
why are so many Christians afraid of science?
I’m not sure why so many Christians seem to be afraid of science – worried because so many scientists claim to have knowledge to disprove so many things in the Bible – especially what they call The Creation Story. Like by calling it a story and saying that it couldn’t have happened that way – then coming up with so many theories that can’t be borne out – calling them scientific facts – and therefore must be the truth.
Sixty plus years ago C. S. Lewis warned about the ways “science” could be used – but also said that what he called “real science” would prove Christianity is true.
As Screwtape told his nephew –
They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see.
And I believe that’s exactly what we should do.
Study science – learn about it.
Just the facts – without all of the interpretative words and the assumptions that cannot be backed up.
I’ll continue to update the older articles – along with writing new ones on the latest “findings” and scientific teachings, minus the hyperbole and unfounded information. Then we’ll see that science is really very much in line with what the Bible teaches us.
Science as a way to steal credit from where it belongs
That is – very much in line except for one really big thing – Who Gets the Credit!
It’s really fascinating – how two people can say exactly the same thing, disagree on the source / origin of that thing, and come out fighting like they don’t agree at all. For instance – take evolution. I’ll get more into this in another post, but if you just read the sequence of animals in evolution – compare that to the sequence of animals in the Bible – and guess what. They’re the same. The only difference is whether or not that sequence was caused by random chance / survival of the fittest – or by divine design / God. Science actually agrees on the order of creation as stated in the Bible. Where the sticking point comes in has to do with how it happened – who gets the credit for what happened.
How it happened / who gets the credit. That’s the one area where we get / have to exercise free will. We can choose to believe it’s random. Or we can choose to believe God did exactly as He says in the Bible. Our choice. Your choice. And the reality is, the more we learn from science, the harder it is for someone with an open mind to stick to the random / survival theories. We are learning that everything is just way too complex to be random.
So – what I’m going to try to do in a series of posts on science – is make it easier to understand the levels of complexity – the decreasing likelihood of everything not coming from God – without having to understand all the tiny little intricacies of the science behind it. After all, as Paul wrote on Romans –
Ro 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For 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.
As we get “smarter”, we think that what was plain to people before us isn’t plain any more. We know better. That old stuff was for the uninformed / unintelligent people before us. It’s not for us anymore. We’ve “evolved” past the point of believing in those myths and fairy tales.
The thing is – again, if we’re open-minded and honest about it – I feel like God’s telling us, by way of science – “really – you think so? Let me show you just how complicated all this stuff really is – and then let’s see what you think.”
Disagree with me?
Well – consider this.
a lesson from Job
Remember from Job, where God said this after listening to Job and his friends for 37 chapters?
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
Job 38:3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
If you’re not familiar with Job – you’ve got to check it out. It’s an awesome book. Especially for those of us who like to question God. But be prepared to have to be honest. Because God doesn’t mind being questioned – but He does speak His mind afterwards. As we see –
Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Job 38:5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
Job 38:6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
Job 38:7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
Job 38:22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
Job 38:23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
Job 38:24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Job 38:25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
Job 38:26 to water a land where no man lives,
a desert with no one in it,
Job 38:27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
Job 38:28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
Job 38:29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
Job 38:30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
So, take a look at that last section – about the rain and snow and thunder and lightning. Yes – what God told Job back then was enough for Job. He knew that this was really God talking to Him. And he knew that he couldn’t begin to talk back to God.
too “smart” for our own good?
But look at us today. We think we’re so smart for having figured out how rain falls, why snowflakes are formed, what makes thunder, and how lightning strikes. And we think we’re so smart because of that. But – can we make these things happen completely on our own? Before you answer yes – think about this. God made all of the raw materials to create the rain / snow / thunder / lightning that we see. If we were really to create it on our own – where would we get the raw materials? We can’t use God’s – because that would be cheating. We have to come up with them ourselves, in order to claim that God doesn’t matter.
Oh yeah. One more minor little problem. Well – maybe not so minor. God made us too. Without Him – there’s no “us” to even try to understand, let alone create our own rain / snow / thunder / lightning / anything else. Oops.
OK – some will agree with what I just said. Some are screaming at me that I’m just pushing the typical Christian myth. That’s OK. It’s your choice. It’s your God given free will to do just that. All I ask – keep an open mind. Keep reading. Keep looking at the likelihood of the randomness required to create & sustain life as we know it. Be honest and ask yourself if you can really continue to believe there isn’t some divine guidance involved here.
Ask yourself one more thing too. That has to do with what God tells us – how He tells us – and when He tells us things. As I said – for Job, the explanation from God was enough. Paul says that God makes things plain. Job – that “Unintelligent” man from the past accepted a simple explanation. Today’s “intelligent” person wants more detail. God gives us more detail. It comes by way of what scientists learn. Some still don’t believe Him. In spite of all the evidence they uncover that God must exist, they choose not to believe. God gives more information. Scientists learn more. More come to believe Him. But some don’t.
And don’t forget your study partner –
the Creator of – among other things – everything that science studies –
And that’s the other thing I don’t understand. I really enjoy reading and learning. I have to believe the scientists are the same way, if not more so. One of the things I look forward to in Heaven is learning even more. From the ultimate teacher, in the ultimate environment. Imagine – learning from God. Not that we’ll ever get all of it. Even in an eternity – there will always be more to learn. Think about it. God wants a relationship with us. We’ve seen how He shows us more all throughout human history, as we’re able to absorb it. Whether we choose to accept it or not – that’s another question. But He’s giving it to us. Why would that stop in the next life? I would think that people in science would want to be able to learn more. I do.
So let’s invite God, The Holy Spirit, our teacher on earth, to be with us on this journey through what God has made plain to us through science.
There is now a new category on the site: God & science. This is the lead article. As time permits, I’ll be adding new articles, as well as moving existing ones into the God & science category. If you would like to receive notification of new articles, please follow the site using any of the social media links at the top of bottom of this page, or sign up to receive an email using the subscription box towards the top right of the page.