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Friday, Jul 25, 2014

Science, Morality and Christian Evangelism; Pt. 1

  • Laura Hollis is a professor at the University of Notre Dame
September 19, 2013|6:41 pm

If you have been paying attention over the past few years, you have probably noticed that it has become fashionable among certain self-appointed elites to sneer at people of faith. Atheists like Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, and even Stephen Hawking have written best sellers in which belief in God is derided as being anti-scientific, a vestigial and bothersome throwback; an unnecessary superstition.

But there should be no inherent conflict between science and faith in a creator-God. Science at its core is the pursuit of truth. If God is truth and the Source of truth, then the study of astronomy, or quantum physics, or microbiology can be a glimpse – however minuscule – of the God who set in motion the magnificent reality that science reveals.

That position would not be much of a revelation to so many of the world's greatest scientists who have believed in God. But can we go further, and argue that there should also therefore be a connection between morality that is legitimately grounded in God's Word, and science?

Few Christians try to make this case. Increasingly sidelined and silenced by the secular left, many Christians seem to accept without argument the posture that science is best left to non-believers, and that "morality" is merely a matter of personal faith.

Some of this is explicable. There is a long and painful history of anti-scientific claims dressed up as dogma. Even today, there are faiths, or sects within faiths, whose moral precepts seem to be little more than factually baseless power grabs that depend for their implementation upon an ignorant or intimidated faithful.

God does not mandate ignorance. All moral tenets are not equal. And science can be a very useful tool for sorting out the rational from the absurd.

But not, perhaps, as the popular narrative would have you believe. In fact, it is the secular left which demands of its adherents the complete suspension of disbelief, and denial of scientific truths.

Abortion is by no means the only example, but it is an egregious one. For the past 40 years, abortion advocates have not only denied, but deliberately and deceitfully mischaracterized the most basic scientific truths in biology, anatomy, physiology, and genetics. Consider the typical "pro-choice" talking points:

  1. "It's a woman's body." This is biologically, scientifically, demonstrably false. The child in the woman's body has his or her own body, his or her own blood type, sex, distinct and separate DNA, and genetic material. The gestating child is not a tumor, not an appendage. And while we're on the subject …
  2. "It's just a clump of cells." Also false. Unless of course you are willing to take the position that every living creature on earth is "just a clump of cells."
  3. "The child in the womb cannot feel pain." Not true. And apparently not even relevant, since legislative efforts to restrict abortions after the point where the child in utero can feel pain meet the same resistance from abortion defenders as restrictions earlier in the gestation period.
  4. "It's just a fetus." Etymology helps here. The word "fetus" derives from the Latin word for "offspring" and describes a developmental phase of the human child in utero. Nothing about the word "fetus" denotes anything other than a human baby; no matter how much the "pro-choice" crowd protests.

Who is anti-science?

Abortion also demonstrates the extent to which science can strengthen a moral argument. Those in the pro-life movement (Christians and others) were defending the rights of the unborn child decades ago, when "all" they had was a "moral" argument. In the years since, what has advanced our views and our understanding of the developing human child in utero? Science and technology. Ultrasound changed the mind of NARAL founder and former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson, and of Abby Johnson, formerly a Planned Parenthood employee, among many, many others. Scientific study and technological advancement have pushed back the age of viability for neonates, and even enabled surgery on children still gestating.

It is not only abortion where the "progressive" worldview pays little heed to science, but with attitudes taken toward sexuality generally.

We are told that teaching our young people to exercise sexual self-restraint until marriage is unrealistic; that we need to encourage them to have "safe sex" as teens; that this is a "healthier" attitude about sexuality than was the case in our parents' or grandparents' time.

By what definition of "healthier"? Surely not the presence of sexually transmitted diseases. The percentage of the population infected with STDs was much, much smaller before the so-called "sexual revolution," and largely confined to very distinct segments that engaged in promiscuous sex. Among young people – ages 15 – 24 – the infection numbers were so small they were barely kept. Now, young people account for half of all new infections each year. One in four youth has a sexually transmitted disease. In some areas, it's one in three. That is a level that comparable to sex workers in third world countries. But somehow, the most advanced country on earth cannot bring itself to admit that indiscriminate sex that spreads disease is primitive, not civilized behavior. This is basic anthropology and epidemiology. And this is without even mentioning psychological disorders associated with early sexual activity in young people: depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, self-mutilation, anorexia, bulimia, date rape, bullying, and suicide attempts. The statistics rack up, and we ignore them.

Who is anti-science?

In fact, a great deal of sexual behavior (including sexual orientation, sexual preference and now gender identity) has become the province of civil rights law and diversity policies – and science is allowed very little voice in that space. We hear accounts almost daily of men who decide that they are women, and women who decide that they are men; individuals who dress like the opposite sex, change their names, and insist that we treat them as the sex that they "feel" they are. In one extreme example of this, a woman had her breasts but not her ovaries or uterus removed, took male hormones to grow a beard, "married" another woman, was artificially inseminated and conceived a child, and was put on the covers of magazines under the headlines, "The world's first pregnant man."

What is sometimes called "gender dysphoria" is a real condition, and there is, unquestionably, a scientific explanation for what these people endure, whether it is physiological, psychological, or something else altogether. At present, we do not understand what causes people to make these proclamations. But ignoring chromosomal biology, calling a physically mutilated woman a man, allowing grown men into girls' locker rooms because of the way they say they "feel," and crowing about it as "celebrating diversity" isn't science. It is mob-mentality theatre of the absurd. In the children's fairy tale, the public ignored the fact that the emperor had no clothes. Today, we are asked to pretend that he does not have male genitalia. Who is anti-science?

Nor do the secular Left's pet causes fare any better in the social sciences than they do in the hard sciences.

Forty years ago we were told that no-fault divorce would be better for women and children; that removing the social stigma from unwed motherhood would be liberating. No one wants to return to a time when women were trapped in abusive relationships, or to punish innocent children for their birth circumstances. But we must also acknowledge that the social costs of easy divorce, broken homes, and single parenthood have been devastating.

Ironically – or perhaps not – women and children have suffered disproportionately, thrust into poverty. Entire swaths of the American population – particularly in our inner cities – have been decimated by crime, drug addiction, and gang activity that have filled the vacuum created by the absence of fathers and the dissolution of families. Even in upper-income segments of society, children from broken homes, raised by single mothers, or otherwise deprived of relationships with their fathers often have deep emotional and psychological scars that are manifesting themselves in many destructive behaviors. The numbers of people displaying these behaviors have exploded. And yet we ignore the scientific evidence because it is inconvenient.

(Part II of this essay will explore the scientific truths evident in Judeo-Christian morality.)

Laura Hollis is an attorney and teaches entrepreneurship and business law at the University of Notre Dame. She resides in Indiana with her husband and two children.
Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/science-morality-and-christian-evangelism-pt-1-104974/