February 27, 1996
Whenever the word “idol” is mentioned, different images come to mind. My granddaughter might picture a television or singing star. An older generation might think of rotund little statues or grotesque carved figures mounted on poles. Most of us would never think of a science laboratory.
While reading a book about world views, I came across an interesting definition of “idol.” As background, the author maintains world view is how a person answers four questions: Who am I? (Or who are human beings?) Where am I? (Or what is the nature of our world?) What is wrong? (Or what keeps us from attaining fulfillment?) And finally, what is the remedy? He says whatever we depend on and look to for answers is our response to the last question. In other words, whatever we think will fix wrong in our world becomes our “God” or idol.
On a global scale, answers to those last two questions fall into three major categories. The first says economic chaos is our problem and it can be remedied by money, either by right use or more of it. A second response says we are crippled by archaic methods therefore technology and the right tools will “fix” the world’s mess.
The third answer is that we do not properly understand our world. All we need is careful observation and workable theories that have been tested and proven. Then we will discover what we need to know and use those same scientific methods to resolve our problems.
Science proves itself a mixed blessing. For instance, inventions ease our work load with labor-saving washing machines, power tools and computers, but what happened to the predicted twenty-hour work week? New inventions eat it up with increased production!
Scientific development changed the way we work but also the way we think about God. For instance, faith was once considered a response to God’s revelation. Truth from God was considered ultimate truth and faith accepted it as reasonable and provable. However, certain “experts” found themselves unable to put revelation in a test tube. They demanded reason be divorced from faith. Unfortunately, allowing that separation produces spiritual chaos.
For instance, with science, humans are now “enlightened.” We can split atoms, cure most diseases and launch ourselves into outer space. Scientific theory collects evidence to “prove” man is an evolved ape and the world is a cosmic accident. Some claim whatever is wrong, humanity can fix it. They say we don’t need God and He, even if He existed, is dead.
Observation is a major scientific foundation, yet anyone who has their eyes open can easily see the scientific method falls short. It cannot cure the world’s ills because our human sinfulness interferes. We explore and marvel at the wonders of creation, yet have not found a perfect way to stop ourselves from exploiting and polluting it. More personally, people protect a seal pup’s right to life with the same zeal as their right to destroy their own unborn babies.
Science enables us to gaze in awe at the cosmos and thrust spaceships into it, but cannot guarantee an end to violence and bloodshed. Even in our fiction, people war over ownership of the moon and traffic control on their way to the stars. Science has not stopped hate, fear, poverty or pride. Human beings are still selfish and abusive, hungry and helpless.
Nonetheless, science has merit. Rather than abandon it, we need to put it in its proper place — under the law of God. He commands: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Obeying would keep us from elevating science above Him. Instead, we corrupt it by our sinfulness and make it yet another ailment that needs yet another remedy!