The Fall of Faith
It's getting to the end of the year and I started thinking about something that has probably been realized by many others ahead of me. I started thinking about why organizations like Answers in Genesis (AIG), Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Reasons to Believe (RTB) and the Discovery Institute want to be viewed as scientific organizations. I thought about why science figures so prominently in their discussions and propaganda. All three of these organizations are really religious organizations so it seems strange that science should figure so prominently in their apologetics. Then, around 3 o'clock this morning it hit me.
Science has surpassed religion in society as a way of knowing things. Religion played such a central role in how people viewed their lives (giving them purpose and meaning) and now science is threatening that security. Science has shown that we are not at the center of the universe. Science showed us that the Sun and other planets don't revolve around us. While those discoveries happened long ago, religion was able to accommodate those findings by maintaining that we were still somehow special. The, along came Darwin and he showed us that we are just another in a long line of animals. Geologists showed us that the earth has a long history that extends back to 4.5 billion years. Paleontology discovered a wealth of animal life that existed prior to our rather recent occupation of the planet. All of these (especially evolution) obviously shook the foundations of religious folk who (in the beginning) refused to accept that we were not a forethought of some gods. Even with this knowledge, a number of religious organizations came to accept evolution as valid.
Now, astrophysics has shown us that we are a pale blue dot in a vast cosmos whose origins likely came from a quantum fluctuation. The more we learn about evolutionary science, the more we learn about the relationships we share with everything from the snail to the ape. These relationships help us discover our origins and the data are not pointing to formation of humans from dirt in a perfect garden just a few thousand years ago.
Of course some argue that all this knowledge without a god makes life meaningless and I suppose there is no arguing the point with them. I don't see why new knowledge about our place in the cosmos should do anything more than cause us to be astonished and amazed. The very fact that we are able to consider these things should give us pause and reason enough to keep on discovering and learning. For others, knowledge is not enough.
All of these observations are known to most people and none of it is a revelation to me. So, why do I even write this? It hit me over the head that the world is slowy realizing that science has replaced supernaturalism as the best way of knowing things. Everything that human kind ascribed to a benevolent (or not so benevolent), omniscient and omnipotent god is more easily described without the need for a supernatural explanation. So now some religious organizations have turned to science in order to validate their supernaturalism. In what might be called 'sleeping with the enemy', organizations like Reason to Believe, Answers in Genesis and the Discovery Institute have prostituted their faith in favor of science. They won't admit this of course, but read their pages, they are trying desperately trying to show that science can match up with their views of the bible. They are trying to force science to validate their own supernatural and sometime superstitious view of the cosmos. The fact that they can't agree on simple things like the age of the earth and the history of life on earth illustrates the failure of trying to marry supernaturalism to science. They know that if science can somehow be demonstrated to support their view, it will give them credibility in the eyes of their followers. Some have done this through out and out misrepresentations of science (AIG, ICR and DISCO) while others have attempted to marry modern discoveries to a broad reading of scripture (RTB). As someone once said to me when I questioned him about how the helium argument was being used by AIG and ICR:
"Whatever happened to faith"?