The Summit Lecture Series: Making Sense of Your World with John Stonestreet, Part 14

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Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species in 1857. By 1870, it was the dominant understanding of how biological life came to be. I find this interesting, partly because Darwin wasn’t the first to propose this idea that all living things came from a common ancestor. However, Darwin was writing at a particular point in our world’s cultural history when ideological doors were more open than ever and it really caught on.

This is partially why Darwinism is known as the “last nail in the coffin of God”. At that point, it seemed as though Darwin had explained the last thing that science hadn’t yet explained – where did biological diversity come from?

But, Darwin did not stay within the framework of biology. If he had, there would be no problem. However, what you believe to be true about biology infects what you believe to be true about other things.

As Stephen Jay Gould said,

“We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer – but none exists.”

Gould also starts with a statement of biology, yet he ends (“We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer – but none exists.”) by migrating to psychology, worldview and even theology.

Now, many believe that psychology is the study of the mind. But, when it first began, psychology was actually the study of the soul. But, today, we are all good Darwinists, so we don’t believe in the soul, right?

But, seriously, as I mentioned in previous posts, whatever a hammer sees is a nail and to a Naturalist, all people are merely physical and without a soul. Therefore, via reductionism, human beings are reduced down to this minimalist understanding of who we are.

For example, if human beings are just bodies – merely physical creatures – then what could possibly be at the root of our problems in regards to psychology? There are only three possible problems within this framework: a bad environment; bad habits; and/or bad chemicals. And, if there are only a sum of three potential problems, then there are only a total of three solutions: change your environment; change your habits; and/or change your chemistry.

Don’t get me wrong – there can be environmental, behavioral and chemical problems for many people. But, what is missing is that there also may be a problem with SIN. In other words, there may be a problem within us that does not fall within those three problem/solution parameters.

Now, one of the implications of Darwinism is Scientism. Scientism is the idea that all problems are scientific. Therefore, all answers are also scientific. You see signs of this in our culture when anything “newer” or “more convenient” is automatically assumed to be “better”. Therefore, we judge technology by whether or not it is faster, more convenient, and if it can make our lives easier.

But, is easier always better?

What has email done to our society’s grammar? What has texting done to our spelling? These things, along with Skype, Facetime, and social media, have made communication easier for us… but have they made communication better?

Another area of concern related to this is what is known as scientific autonomy. In other words, if something can move us ahead, then we’ve got to do it.

If we can do something then we must do it.

Image: Jamie Davies
Image: Jamie Davies

This is what leads well-intentioned geneticists to cross-breeding rabbits and humans without ever being constrained by ethics. What could possibly go wrong? Or idealistic computer programmers creating microscopic artificial intelligent computers that become self aware and self-replicating. In no time, they will begin fighting a world war for dominance of the planet against the bunny-people, and we will merely be the casualties of their war. The kicker is that the people responsible for all this technological advancement will never be bound by ethics or morality.

Why? Because we have all become good Darwinists who are arrogantly scientific.

True maturity arrives when someone realizes that they shouldn’t do everything that pops into their minds.

Going back a few years, it was widely reported that President George W. Bush banned stem cell research. The truth is that he absolutely DID NOT do so. He didn’t even ban embryonic stem cell research, either. Nor did he stop the funding of embryonic stem cell research. He was actually the first U.S. President ever to give federal funding to embryonic stem cell research.

However, what he DID do was to stipulate that no federal funds could be used to destroy new embryos. The funding had to go toward stem cell lines that had already been created from embryos that had already been destroyed. In other words, he didn’t want any new embryos to be destroyed in the process. Yet still, he was the first President to give any federal funding toward it (not even Bill Clinton did this).

Still, the prevailing message in the public square was, “President Bush held back science!”

Why? Because he put some restrictions on it.

And, according to the Scientism idea, any restrictions put upon scientists are necessarily bad.

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