The Scientist as Evangelist
John W. Robbins
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I am very honored and pleased to be able to speak to you this morning on the subject of “The Scientist as Evangelist.” It is a most important subject, and a much neglected one. I believe that entirely too little attention has been paid to it; at least, Christians have paid too little attention to it. Carl Sagan has been a very effective evangelist for his own anti-Christian philosophy of science. But Christians have not given the subject the attention it deserves. The reasons for Christians ignoring the matter are many. I’d like to discuss a few of them with you.
First, many Christians have an inadequate idea of evangelism. “Everyone knows” that evangelism is the proclamation of the Gospel to the world at large. It is handing out tracts, going from door to door, inviting your friends and neighbors to church. All of these activities can be performed by members of any profession-scientists, secretaries, and social workers. In this view of evangelism, there is nothing special to say about the scientist as evangelist; he simply does what everyone else is doing. But this is an inadequate idea of evangelism, and it is the first reason for the neglect of the subject of the scientist as evangelist.
The second reason for this neglect is an inaccurate idea of science. By this I do not mean that our definition of science is too narrow and that it ought to be expanded to include theology and politics. I intend to use science in its common, ordinary meaning, not in some broad meaning that would encompass all disciplines. No, by our inaccurate notion of science I mean that we, non-Christians and Christians alike, have fundamentally misconceived the limits and uses of science. Because of this misconception, we have failed to see how a scientist can be an evangelist.
A third reason for our lack of attention to the subject of the scientist as evangelist is the commonly accepted separation between Christianity and the intellect, between faith and reason. We are told that reason has nothing to do with faith; science has nothing to do with Christianity. According to that view, the whole topic of “the scientist as evangelist” is fundamentally wrong. One might as well talk about the homemaker as Marine Commandant.
It is these three errors-an inadequate notion of evangelism, an inaccurate notion of science, and a mistaken belief about the relationship between science and Christianity-that I would like to discuss with you this morning. Once we get clearly in mind what we mean by evangelism, by science, and by the relationship between Christianity and science, we will be able to discover how the scientist can function as an evangelist. It is sometimes said that asking the right question is solving half the problem. Well, in this case, and in most others, defining the terms is almost all the solution. Let’s begin by defining science.
What Is Science?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines science as “knowledge acquired by study, acquaintance with or mastery of any department of learning.” In this sense, the word science is used in the King James translation of the Bible in 1 Timothy 6:20 where the apostle Paul warns Timothy to “keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so-called.” The word science occurs only this once in the New Testament and only once in the Old, in Daniel 1:4, where we are told that the choicest children of Israel were without blemish, “well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science.” These children were captured by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and taken to the king’s palace to learn the “learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.”
Now it is obvious that in both these verses, the word science does not mean what it does for us today. Three hundred seventy-four years ago when the King James translation was made, science meant what the Oxford Dictionary said: “Knowledge acquired by study, acquaintance with or mastery of any department of learning.” Yet I am sure we have all read Christian writers who use the New Testament phrase “science falsely so-called” to attack the views of modern scientists in the narrow sense, and more importantly, to argue that there is a true science, that is, a science that furnishes truth. This elementary failure to recognize that the word science has changed in meaning in the past three and a half centuries makes a lot of modern arguments invalid. Paul was not attacking false science and defending true science; he was attacking false information and beliefs and defending true knowledge.
The definition from the Oxford English Dictionary that I read to you is the second definition listed in that dictionary. The modern meaning of science does not appear until definition 5b, where we read that science is “synonymous with ‘Natural and Physical science,’ and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws.” If the citations in the Oxford English Dictionary are to be trusted, this change in meaning from knowledge to natural science occurred sometime during the eighteenth century, at the time of the growth of rationalism and the Enlightenment. Having clearly in mind what we mean by science, let’s turn to the mistakes we make in understanding science.
Science Is Always False
The first mistake that the man in the street and many Christians, including many Christian scientists, make is to regard science as a method for discovering truth. This was the common belief among philosophers and scientists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but no reputable scientist and few reputable philosophers would today assert that science discovers truth.
There are exceptions to this, of course. As late as 1936, the American Nobel Prize winner in physics, Robert Millikan, wrote, “In science, truth once discovered always remains truth.” How this brilliant man could make such a stupid remark is a subject for another lecture, but he did in fact say it, despite the history of science in which scientific laws replace one another with the speed of light. Since it may surprise some of you to hear that scientists and philosophers no longer believe that science discovers truth, let me quote the actual words of the scientists and philosophers.
Einstein and Popper
Perhaps we should begin with the most famous scientist of all, Albert Einstein. In a conversation with Chaim Tschernowitz about how nature really works, Einstein remarked: “We know nothing about it [nature] at all. Our knowledge is but the knowledge of school children.... We shall know a little more than we do now. But the real nature of things-that we shall never know, never.”
Turning from Einstein to a less well known philosopher of science, the Briton Karl Popper, we find Mr. Popper writing: “All scientific statements are hypotheses, or guesses, or conjectures, and the vast majority of these conjectures ... have turned out to be false. Our attempts to see and to find the truth are not final, but open to improvement; ... our knowledge, our doctrine, is conjectural; ... it consists of guesses, of hypotheses, rather than of final and certain truths.
Bertrand Russell was an English mathematician and philosopher, and he also understood some of the limitations of scientific method. By limitations I do not mean to imply that science is capable of discovering some truths but not others, that through science we can discover truths of astronomy, physics, or botany, but that we must rely on the Bible for theology. That is a fundamentally wrong view of the limitations of science, and Russell had no such delusions about science. Science is based on observation and experiment. But induction, Russell admitted a little reluctantly, “remains an unsolved problem of logic.” Put more bluntly, induction is a logical fallacy. Just because one observes a thousand white swans, one cannot conclude that all swans are white. Number 1001 may be black. Just because the Sun has come up every morning for the past one hundred years does not imply that it will come up tomorrow. Or, to give you a more theological example, non-Christian archaeologists used to claim that there was no evidence whatsoever for the existence of the Hittite nation, and therefore the Bible must be mistaken. Today there are more Hittite documents in our museums than the archaeologists have had time to translate. Induction is always fallacious, yet science is based on induction.
A second problem with science that Russell saw is the problem of experimentation. Science proceeds by testing hypotheses through experiments. From a hypothesis a scientist deduces that if X is done, Y will occur. He then proceeds to perform an experiment; Y occurs; and therefore, he concludes, the hypothesis is confirmed. This form of argument is another logical fallacy, and all laboratory experimentation commits this fallacy. Its formal name is asserting the consequent: If p, then q; q; therefore p. If Einstein’s theory of relativity is true, then light will bend in the presence of massive objects; light bends passing the Sun; therefore Einstein’s theory of relativity is true. Or to put it less scientifically, if it is raining, the streets are wet; the streets are wet; therefore, it is raining. Russell wrote:
All inductive arguments in the last resort reduce themselves to the following form: “If this is true, that is true: now that is true, therefore this is true.” This argument is, of course, formally fallacious. Suppose I were to say: “If bread is a stone and stones are nourishing, then this bread will nourish me; now this bread does nourish me; therefore it is a stone, and stones are nourishing.” If I were to advance such an argument, I should certainly be thought foolish, yet it would not be fundamentally different from the arguments upon which all scientific laws are based.
However, Einstein, Popper, and Russell may not be to your taste. Let me mention, then, the greatest Christian philosopher and theologian of this century, a man who wrote a book about science entitled The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God. In that book, Dr. Gordon Clark said of physics, which is the most advanced of the sciences: “All the laws of physics are false.” Moreover, he gives ninety-five pages of arguments demonstrating why this must be so. I have already mentioned two of those reasons, the fallacies of induction and asserting the consequent, and there are many more. But Clark, and logic, show far more than that all the laws of physics are false; they show that all the laws of physics must be false. Clark wrote: “Instead of being the sole gateway to all knowledge, science is not a way to any knowledge.”
Now this view of science is quite different from the view held by the common man and by many Christian scientists. It takes decades, sometimes a century, for the opinions of philosophers to become the common opinions of mankind; and Americans in 1985 still believe, by and large, what was taught in the nineteenth century, that science discovers truth. It is not simply intellectual inertia in this case; for the science teachers in our high schools and colleges have a dim understanding that there is a religious issue involved here, and that if they were to admit that science does not discover truth, indeed cannot discover truth, the battle between Christianity and science would be over. So they have a vested interest in perpetuating the myth that science discovers truth. It is not until graduate school, if then, that the student is told about the limitations of science. Until then, he is intimidated by the modern equivalent of “Thus saith the Lord”: “It has been scientifically proved.” The high school and college student is not told that it is impossible to prove anything scientifically and that the phrase “scientific truth” is a contradiction in terms. He is, in fact, told the opposite: nothing is to be accepted unless it has been scientifically proved, and nothing has any claim to be called true unless science acknowledges that claim.
Christians Defend Science, Not Christianity
This, then, is our inaccurate idea of science. Christian theologians and scientists have picked up on this false notion and have been teaching it as though it were true. Ironically, there are perhaps no more ardent defenders of the scientific method today than Christian theologians and scientists.
At least part of the explanation for this defense of science is a desire to use the second law of thermodynamics to prove a doctrine of creation in the finite past. But the scientists who want to use the second law in this way are simply ignorant of the arguments demonstrating the fallaciousness of the scientific method. They persist in defending it, even while the most intelligent non-Christian scientists and philosophers admit that all scientific laws are false. This topsy-turvy situation destroys the ability of the Christian scientist to evangelize, for he is busy defending a source of truth other than the Bible, while those he ought to be teaching have learned the lesson better than he. The Christian generally, and the Christian scientist in particular, has a totally inaccurate view of science and therefore cannot properly relate science and evangelism.
If that is the case, what is the proper view of science? What are its limitations? Of what use is it?
The Limits of Science
Let me begin answering these questions by listing very briefly some of the reasons that science is not a way of discovering truth. I have already mentioned two, the logical fallacies of induction and asserting the consequent. Let me mention two more, both of them dealing with physics. I choose physics because it is, quite clearly, the best and most advanced of the various natural sciences; and therefore what applies to physics holds a fortiori for biology, for example. Perhaps one can get through a biology course with little more than a good memory; but a physics course, precisely because it is more advanced, requires the ability to think rigorously.
Some may be inclined to argue that even if all the laws of physics are false, they are still highly probable. In response to that, I quote the words of Karl Popper, the British philosopher of science: “All theories, including the best, have the same probability, namely zero.” Why does Popper say such an outrageous thing? The argument is simple: A scientist, after he has performed a number of experiments and made a number of measurements, plots a graph. How many lines can pass through the points on a graph? An infinite number, of course. The nice smooth slopes we put in our science textbooks, even our Christian science textbooks, are but one line out of an infinite number that might have been drawn. The scientist has chosen the line he draws, he has not discovered it. But if it is possible that there is an infinite number of slopes, it follows that the probability of the slope that is chosen and the equation it represents being the right one is one out of infinity, or zero. Therefore, “all theories, even the best, have the same probability, namely zero.” Q. E. D. Popper repeated that statement many times in his books, and I wish some Christian theologians and scientists would read them.
But there is a fourth reason for believing that the scientific method is a tissue of logical fallacies. It is quite easy to grasp, as are the first three reasons. Science, especially physics, does not deal with the world we live in. It deals with an imaginary world where there are absolute vacuums, frictionless surfaces, bodies whose masses are concentrated at a geometrical point, and tensionless strings. The law of the pendulum, for example, applies in such an imaginary world; it describes no actual pendulum. The law of freely falling bodies applies in such an imaginary world; it describes no actually falling bodies. Science does not describe the behavior of the things we see, but of the things scientists imagine, including electrons, protons, and quarks.
The Usefulness of Science
Science, then, is not a way of discovering truth. What is its function? Well, it can have at least two legitimate functions. Science is not true, but it can be useful. The thousands of inventions scientists have made in the past two centuries are nothing if not useful. Chemistry, physics, medicine, mechanics-all have made our lives much more comfortable than they were for our grandparents and even for our parents. But these inventions can also be misused, and science cannot select the purposes that are legitimate and those that are not. That guidance must come from some other source. Nuclear energy can be used to light cities or reduce them to ashes. Chemistry can improve nutrition or make nerve gas. Biology can make vaccinations or germ weapons. Science furnishes neither truth nor moral values. But guided by the right nonscientific ethical principles, it can be a great benefit to man.
Science itself can be useful and science education can be useful in the training of people how to think. Physics is the most advanced science because it uses the most mathematics, and in math-unlike physics-conclusions follow necessarily from the premises. A course in physics can be a good training in rigorous thinking-or at least it should be. So science does have a function, but it is not what many people think it is.
Now let’s turn to our second term, evangelism. What is evangelism? It is, of course, proclaiming the Good News of Christ. After all, the root of evangel, gospel, means good news. But Christian knowledge has declined so far in this century-despite our zeal for evangelism-that many no longer know what the Good News is and how it is to be proclaimed. Christians generally have an inaccurate and grandiose notion of science and an inadequate and lowly notion of the Gospel and evangelism. They tend to believe that evangelism consists of asserting a few unconnected truths about salvation and exhorting the world to believe them. Sometimes they even get the few truths they do teach mixed up.
We cannot, therefore, look to contemporary evangelism to find out what evangelism is. Much of what passes for evangelism today has very little to do with Christianity, and very much to do with secular psychology. To learn what evangelism is, we shall have to study the methods of the experts: Christ and the apostles.
Let’s look in some detail at how the first Christians evangelized the world. We might begin with Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, found in the second chapter of Acts. Does Peter mention the four spiritual laws? Does he call upon the people who heard him to commit their lives to Christ? Does he tell his listeners that they need to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Hardly. What he does is this:
First, he explains the ability of the Christians to speak in foreign languages by quoting from the Old Testament at length. How many times would we think of using the Old Testament, let alone committing whole chapters to memory, in our evangelism? But Peter and the other early Christians understood that all Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. Today Christians have a very truncated gospel in which at least two-thirds of the Bible is ignored.
But Peter went further than that. He not only quoted the Old Testament at length, he accused his listeners of being sinners: “You have taken Jesus of Nazareth by lawless hands, have crucified and put him to death. And God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Peter accused them of being sinners and of committing the most heinous of sins: murdering the Messiah.
The accusation of sin is missing from what passes for evangelism today. There is no mention of God’s holiness, his righteousness, and his law. After all, we are in the dispensation of grace, aren’t we? But Peter taught no such nonsense, and he accused his hearers of sin, indeed of a specific sin.
Now, any professor of homiletics worth his salt will tell you that that is just bad form. Accusing your listeners of sin violates all the rules that Dale Carnegie laid down for winning friends and influencing people. One must be irenic; one must seek to understand people and not offend them. But Peter the evangelist was not interested in winning friends: He was interested in proclaiming the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
After quoting at length from the Old Testament, not once but twice, and then accusing his audience of being sinners, Peter makes another mistake: He argues theology. Today we all know that argument is futile and theology is controversial. Evangelism, we are told, is the simple proclamation of the simple truths of the Gospel. But Peter disagrees. He argues theology. What a miserable excuse for an evangelist Peter was. He would undoubtedly be expelled from the staffs of many so-called evangelistic organizations in this country. He quotes the Old Testament, he arrogantly and impolitely accuses his listeners of sin, he argues, and he talks theology. Worst of all, he mentions predestination and God’s absolute power over the decisions and thoughts of men: “Christ, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands and put to death.” Today everyone knows, don’t they, that evangelism is incompatible with Calvinism? Peter, and all the rest of the early Christians, violated every major principle of modern-day evangelism. In one short sermon he taught that God is holy and almighty, that his listeners were pawns and sinners, and that their understanding of theology was, at best, inadequate. What was the result? Verse 37 tells us, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ “ Peter’s evangelism cut them to their hearts, and they were changed by the words he spoke. We’re told that “about three thousand souls were added” to the Church after that sermon, and that “they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship.” Many famous, twentieth-century, so-called evangelists have claimed many times three thousand “decisions for Christ”; but how many of those so-called converts continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine? It is very likely that they knew no doctrine to begin with-no creed but Christ is the modern view of evangelism, I think.
Peter’s sermon is not the only instance of such preaching. It was typical of early Christian evangelism. Another of his sermons is recorded in Acts 3, where he says:
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our Fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate.... But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead.
And then he mentions predestination again. And then he quotes the Old Testament. After his sermon, Peter was arrested by the priests and the Sadducees, but “many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”
Peter’s sermons were effective, but were he preaching today, he would undoubtedly be arrested by seminary professors and sentenced to two years of remedial homiletics. So much for modern evangelism.
I urge you to study the sermons in the book of Acts. Read Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7. There couldn’t be a sermon more calculated to offend his hearers, and they were “cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.” But Stephen, “being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
What conclusions can we draw about evangelism based upon the activity of the evangelists in the book of Acts? There are several, almost all of which are antithetical to what we believe about evangelism today.
The Definition of Evangelism
First, evangelism is the proclamation of the truth. Evangelism is not the proclamation of human wisdom or men’s opinions, but of the truth revealed to us in the Bible. Paul emphasizes this in the first chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians: “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” Much of what passes for evangelism today is not true, but consists of so-called human wisdom, that is, knowledge falsely so-called.
Second, evangelism is the proclamation of the whole truth. Paul said that he was innocent of the blood of all for he had not failed to declare the whole counsel of God. Not only is evangelism the proclamation of the truth, it is the proclamation of the whole truth. This means that the position of fundamentalist churches is unscriptural. Paul did not say, I am innocent because I taught you the fundamentals; he said he was innocent because he taught the whole counsel of God, not a few fundamentals and a lot of prophetic speculation. Surprising as it may seem to some Christians, there is a complete system of truth taught in the Bible, a Christian philosophy that covers all aspects of faith and life. Paul was innocent of the blood of all men because he taught them the whole counsel of God. He didn’t skip predestination; he taught it repeatedly and thoroughly. He realized, as few do today, that many people believe in some sort of god, but unless they believe in the Almighty God who causes all things that happen, they do not believe in God. This concern with the whole truth led the early evangelists to quote at length from the Scriptures. They did not ignore certain books as inapplicable for today.
Third, evangelism contains nothing but the truth. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul even rejoices that Christ did not send him to baptize, but only “to preach the Gospel.” Today there are growing factions in many denominations that disparage doctrine, belittle preaching, and emphasize experience, healing, gifts, liturgy, activity, and ritual. Anything but teaching. But evangelism involves proclaiming nothing but the truth. If evangelism is the proclamation of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, two questions follow: What is the source of this truth? and, How is it to be proclaimed?
The Source of Truth
The Reformation’s, and the Bible’s, answer to the first question is: The Bible alone is the source of truth. The most excellent summary of what the Bible teaches, the Westminster Confession of 1645, expresses the answer in this way:
The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men.
Peter expresses the view in the following words from 2 Peter: “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue.” God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through theology-the knowledge of God. The source of truth is the Bible alone.
The second question is the method of proclaiming the truth. Today we usually think of using radio or television, tracts, books, sermons, music, and so on; and all legitimate methods are to be used. This is not what we mean by method. How should the message be packaged? Should there be preaching, that is, assertions alone, or arguments also? What did the early evangelists do? Acts 17:2 says that Paul “as his custom was, went in [the synagogue] to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead.” Paul reasoned, explained, and demonstrated. How much evangelism in our day has any of those three elements in it? More often than not, it is the assertion of some platitude or falsehood, such as God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, followed by a call for a decision for Christ or a commitment to Christ. You will never find such practices in the accounts of the early evangelists. Acts 18:4 and 19 repeat the account: Paul went to the synagogues in Corinth and Ephesus and reasoned with the Jews. Of Apollos, Acts 18:28 says he “vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.”
Evangelism by the early church was almost entirely an intellectual affair. It was not emotional; there were no long, drawn out altar calls or invitations; those practices are not found in the Biblical accounts. The extraordinary power of the early evangelism came not from emotional appeal but from the boldness with which the Christians preached the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. God used the words they spoke to convince the unbelievers of the truth; there was no slick salesmanship or television advertising trickery involved. The Gospel, not human wisdom, is the power of God. And Paul reasoned weekly in the synagogue and daily in the marketplace with “those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17).
Science and Evangelism
At this point we are finally ready to begin putting science and evangelism together to understand how the scientist can be an evangelist.
Evangelism, as we have seen, should not be narrowly understood as seeking the salvation of souls, but as the proclamation of the whole truth. The Great Commission, Christ’s final command, puts it this way: “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Evangelism is not merely getting people saved, but making disciples, teaching all nations all things that Christ commanded. Because evangelism is all encompassing, because it involves teaching, the scientist can be an evangelist. How, specifically, can he do this?
The first and the most important way for the scientist to evangelize is to tell the truth about science. This means that Christian scientists must stop pretending that science discovers truth. It does not. This is extremely important in the education of the young. Students reading both secular and Christian textbooks have read that science discovers truth. Students attending both Christian and secular schools have been taught that science discovers truth. The difference between Christian and pagan views has been only the amount of truth that science can allegedly discover: In secular schools and textbooks, science is regarded as the key to a complete interpretation of the universe. In Christian schools and textbooks, truth about the world around us is attributed to science, but religious truth comes from another source. How these two sets of truths are to be reconciled with each other becomes a major problem for Christian thinkers who believe that science discovers truth. These men fail to understand either science or the Bible, for the Bible claims to have a monopoly on truth, and science is not a tool of cognition. Peter, in a passage I’ve already quoted, says that all things pertaining to life and godliness come through theology, not physics. Paul says that scripture completely equips a man of God for every good work; there is no need for a supplement from science or philosophy. Peter refers to the Scriptures as “a light that shines in a dark place.” Not a dim place, but a dark place. The principle is the Bible alone, sola Scriptura. There is no other source of truth. To be an evangelist, a Christian scientist must witness to this truth: The Bible alone is the truth. That is the Good News. That is the first duty of the scientist as evangelist. He has to tell the truth about science and about Christianity. For far too long, Christian scientists have been trying to draw water from broken cisterns.
The Place of Logic
The second job of the scientist as evangelist follows from the first: He must insist that both science and theology be governed by the rules of logic. There is no excuse for sloppy thinking in science, and even less excuse in theology. Paul reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue weekly and with the Gentiles daily in the marketplace. He demonstrated that Jesus was the Christ. He demonstrated that Christ had to suffer and die. As educated men, Paul and Apollos obviously were familiar with the laws of logic and knew how to construct valid arguments. In 1985, some Christian scientists, but few theologians, can reason or demonstrate; in this, they do not imitate Paul as he commanded them to do.
If you think my emphasis on reasoning and logic is unbalanced, there is no more masterful logician in Scripture than Christ himself. Listen to Christ’s reply to the Pharisees who were accusing him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub:
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
Christ’s argument is a syllogism. But Christ does not leave the matter there; he wants to drive the argument home:
And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.
This argument is a simple dilemma: If Christ cast out demons by Beelzebub, so do the sons of the Jews who were following Christ. But if Christ cast out demons by God, then the kingdom of God has come. The master logician, the Logos of God, had destroyed the argument of the Pharisees.
On another occasion, the Sadducees confronted Christ with a question about the resurrection. They obviously thought they had an airtight argument against the resurrection, but they weren’t prepared to deal with the logic of Christ. He replied to their question in this way:
You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.... concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken by God, saying,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Christ deduced the resurrection from the tense of a verb. The Sadducees were too stupid or irrational to make the deduction.
There were three reactions to Christ’s rigorous use of logic: First, we are told that the multitudes were astonished at his teaching. Second, Matthew tells us that he silenced the Sadducees. Third, the Pharisees, seeing an opportunity to show their superiority to both Christ and the Sadducees, thought they could outwit Christ where the Sadducees had failed. They posed a question about the greatest commandment, which Christ answered with ease. But then he, knowing what was in their hearts, asked them a question about the Messiah that they could not answer. What was the result of his arguments? Matthew says, “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question him anymore.”
The Scientist’s Job
That my friends, is the function of the Christian scientist: to silence the scientific enemies of Christ. As an intellectual, the Christian scientist must serve as a bodyguard to the truth of Scripture, defending it from pagan attacks in those areas in which he is a specialist. The Christian archaeologist must expose the logical fallacies that the pagan archaeologists use to attack the Bible. The Christian archaeologist must demonstrate that archaeology cannot prove anything, let alone disprove the truth of the Bible. The Christian biologist must defend the Bible against those who deny the truth of the account of creation, exposing their irrationality to all the world. If the job of the Christian scientist as evangelist is properly done, no scientist will dare question the Bible anymore.
Unfortunately, too little of this type of evangelism has been done; for Christian scientists, by and large, have accepted the notion that science can furnish truth. As a result, they spend the time they ought to use defending the truth of the Bible defending the authority of science. This mistake is fatal to Christian evangelism, for as Christians we are not interested in defending a method that cannot be deduced from scripture, nor are Christians interested in defending a generic god of the sort that some scientists believe in, a universal designer. Those who believe in such a god are Masons, not Christians, and unless they repent, they will go to Hell.
But there is more for the scientist as evangelist to do than to tell the truth about science and to insist on rigorous thinking in both science and theology. The first of these tasks, telling the truth about science, is part of reinforcing Christianity’s claim to have a monopoly on truth and salvation: One book, one Lord, one faith, one God, one baptism, one name by which we must be saved. The second task, insisting on rigorous thinking, contributes to the accomplishment of the first task by embarrassing those who oppose the truth. The third task of the scientist as evangelist is the explication of those passages of scripture that have a bearing on the various disciplines of science: astronomy, biology, zoology, botany, and so forth. If science cannot furnish truth but merely useful opinion, truth is to be found only in the propositions contained in the Bible and in logical inferences made from those propositions. The scientist as evangelist must try to deduce from the Bible as many propositions relating to the natural world as he can. How many are there? I have no idea. Nor does anyone else. Perhaps the truths deduced from the Bible would be quite short compared with the vast amounts of misinformation that now fill our science books. But, however few, those propositions would be true, something that cannot be said about propositions arising from the scientific method.
In conclusion, the task of the scientist as evangelist is to remove the obstacles that secular science has put in the way of belief in the truth of the Bible. When those obstacles are removed, the message of the Gospel will obtain a much better hearing than it has at any other time in the past two centuries. Both Christ and the apostles answered the objections of unbelievers and then reduced the opinions of the unbelievers to self-contradictory nonsense. This is not an easy task, but it is one task that must be done if the Christian scientist is to bring all thoughts into captivity to Christ. The scientific critics of the truth must be silenced, and the scientist as evangelist must do it. Christ expects nothing less.