Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Different Strokes

The famous American idiom “Different Strokes for Different Folks” tells us that different people like or need different things. Let’s examine how multitudes of important scientific discoveries in the past fifty to one hundred years have impacted two entirely different groups of “folks.”

We are living in an age of scientific discovery unlike any bygone era. Discoveries are occurring at an accelerating rate. Proliferating knowledge in biological and physical sciences has enabled scientists to paint an ever more complete picture of reality as the last half of the 20th century moved into the 21st. Big Bang cosmology has been enriched with startling detail about how fine-tuned the universe really is. Earth sciences have advanced far beyond unlocking merely the fact of plate tectonics; they now reveal a world of detail about the intricate workings of our living planet. Biological sciences have far surpassed the landmark identification of DNA as the fundamental genetic material with its double helix structure. Finally, physical science has expanded man’s knowledge of molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, and Newtonian physics into the worlds of relativity, exotic particle physics, and quantum theory.

There are two ways to interpret this proliferation of knowledge. Scientists who believe naturalism explains all reality (metaphysical naturalists) view such advances in man’s knowledge as affirming the naturalistic worldview: nature is all there is and is the ultimate metaphysical reality. But those with a theistic worldview perceive the same knowledge explosion as a clear manifestation of gifts given by God, the author of all things. The two groups examine identical evidence, but reach different conclusions about its meaning.

There are many cases where the same evidence is cited to support different conclusions. Life forms on earth and the physical systems which support them either (a) arose naturalistically according to an unknown self-organizing property of matter, or (b) arose theistically from a supernatural, creative act of God. These two views of origins are on diametric opposites of the worldview spectrum. When researching answers to this “either/or” option, it behooves the Christian to “get it right.” Naturalism has many surprising, even shocking logical outcomes which should alarm Christians; if we “get it wrong,” we begin a slide down a dangerous slope. Upcoming posts will address these outcomes and dangers. We need to focus on discovering the truth about origins. In so doing, we proceed beyond the relativistic “Different Strokes for Different Folks” mentality which drives our post-modern world.