—the scandal affecting both the Church and Science1
You’ll have heard of Watergate and some will know of Plebgate2, scandals that have impugned the integrity of governments in the USA and the UK: but what about Arrogate? This scandal hasn’t just touched the lives of a few people in a couple of countries—it has misled millions in every nation of the world!
‘Arrogate’ means to claim unwarrantably or presumptuously; or to assume or appropriate to oneself without right. Both the scientific establishment and the Church stand guilty of this, resulting in the deception of millions. Despite the apparent differences of these two disciplines the abuse stems from the common principle of transferred authority.
The Church’s historical error
As far as the Church is concerned this transfer of authority can be seen in the medieval belief in relics, and the sale of indulgences, a point made persuasively by the late David C.C. Watson.3 The people accepted the authenticity and efficacy of relics and indulgences primarily because the Roman Catholic Church which guaranteed them was supposed to be founded upon the truth; i.e. the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This truth, comprehensively affirmed by the Bible, gave the Church its authority in people’s eyes. And because the Church (the professed custodian of the truth) authorised the worship of relics and the purchase of indulgences, that was enough to persuade most people to believe those things too. Watson writes, “The authority which the Church had rightly used to preserve and propagate the historic Faith was wrongly used to preserve and propagate unhistorical fantasy and fiction. Christendom swallowed a lie because it was served up by the purveyors of truth.” Furthermore the official Church made it difficult for this deception to be discovered by restricting access to the truth—the Bible was in Latin and available only to the priesthood! Eventually, in spite of bitter opposition, the Protestant Reformers carried the day and the protesting cry of ‘sola scriptura’ (‘only scripture’ has authority) prevailed.
The error of Scientism
For most people today ‘Science’, and not the Church, is considered to be the source of truth. The multitude of discoveries, inventions and advances in technology, resulting from scientific experiment and research, has given science so much prestige and power that it’s almost deified. People look to science to provide control over nature, and believe that it can provide the answers to life, the universe and everything.
This ‘idolisation’ has opened the door to arrogation—for power has the unfortunate tendency to corrupt. The esteem that science has rightly achieved in matters of true science (areas where there has been—and can be—rigorous observation, measurement and repeated testing) has led many secular scientists (Richard Dawkins for one) to believe that they have the same authority when speaking on subjects outside the scope of true empirical science. This is not science but scientism—an excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.
In much the same way as European kings accepted the Church’s authority in matters outside its rightful jurisdiction, modern man has accepted as true many unsubstantiated claims and beliefs made by scientists in relation to areas outside the scope of empirical science, in particular the origins of man and the age of the universe. The authority that scientists rightly deserve for their undoubted achievements in the realm of the seen, the tangible and the predictable, has been transferred to their unwarranted pronouncements concerning the unseen, the intangible and the unpredictable. Scientists can speculate, but since this concerns unobserved and unrepeatable events, any views they may have regarding origins are ultimately a matter of faith—not science, at least not in the sense which has earned this term its prestige and respect.
Arrogation leads to atheism
Atheistic scientists believe that everything—mankind included—evolved from nothing by chance, that no Creator is needed! Secular society is happy to go along with this idea for it not only appears to be the unanimous view of science, confirmed by virtually every natural history program on the media, but it means there is no God to answer to. More ominous for the church is that many who would call themselves Christian and evangelical no longer have a trusting faith in the authority of Scripture because it allegedly conflicts with science.
As John Blanchard has said, “The Bible may not be a scientific textbook but if it is the Word of God then surely we should expect its science to be as accurate as its theology.”4 If we are to reach the lost and to strengthen the weak, we must be equipped to defend the Faith and to show that there is no conflict between true science and the Bible. False science (scientism) argues in this way:
“Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic” (Dr Scott Todd, Kansas State University).5
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs. … Moreover, … materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door” (Professor Richard Lewontin (retired American evolutionary biologist and geneticist).6
This only reveals the truth of the apostle Paul’s words (Roman 1:28), “Since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God he gave them over to a depraved mind.”
References and notes
- The idea for this article was initiated by three things: 1) Chapter 16 of The Great Brain Robbery, see reference 3; 2) When Fables Fall, by Arthur F. Green, 2011, Sovereign World Ltd., where the author argues very forcefully that Science needs to undergo a ‘reformation’; 3) My having recently heard the word ‘arrogate’ on Radio 4 and discovering its meaning! Return to text.
- See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22044653, 5 April 2013; also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plebgate; last accessed 10 April 2013. Return to text.
- Watson, D.C.C., The Great Brain Robbery: Creation or evolution?, 1976 (out of print; ISBN 0 9514538 0 7). Return to text.
- Blanchard, J., Does God believe in atheists? EP Books, 2000, p. 444. Return to text.
- Todd, S.C., correspondence to Nature 401(6752):423, 30 September 1999. Return to text.
- Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons (review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, 1997), The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997. Return to text.