Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-16, NRSV
Location: First preached at Grace Presbyterian Church of Ft. Worth, Florida
In my experience some of the greatest conflict-methodology myths in the world today are the claims that science and technology are somehow at odds with religion, specifically Christianity. In modern times these fictions have been popularized and pronounced by the group of people widely known as the New Atheists.
In November of 2006, Wired Magazine announced the New Atheists as a new cultural force on a mission. The article stated: “The New Atheism. No Heaven. No Hell. Just Science. Inside the crusade against religion.” The article was clear that the New Atheists wanted to propagate that there is no afterlife. Religion must be abolished. The only thing that matters is science. And so from its conception the New Atheist movement was set up to be in conflict methodology with Christianity.
One of the leaders of my doctoral program focusing on the intersection of science and theology recalled to me that once he was in Oxford eating in a staff dining space. As it so happened, one of the leaders of the New Atheist movement, Richard Dawkins, was also dining there at the time. So my professor, in an act of goodwill, went over to Dawkins’ table, and introduced himself including his background in theology. Sitting right across from him, Dawkins wouldn’t even cordially acknowledge his presence. Needless to say my professor said it was a bit awkward. What my professor found out later from another colleague was that Dawkins didn’t acknowledge him simply because my professor was a theist.
So what is one supposed to do when engaged in such a conflict-oriented way?
Well, I think the answer is that we need consider how Paul calls Christians to lead our lives in Ephesians 4:1-2. He says, “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And then, keeping that counsel in mind, I think we need to extend the grace of the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 - “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you” – and that includes Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists.
Additionally, Christians certainly shouldn’t allow the bad behavior of a few individuals to keep us from being engaged in science or tech. That is because science and technology are critically valuable to humanity. For instance, they are both important in helping us live into Christ’s Great Commission - in Matthew 28:19 - to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If we are going to actually feed the hungry; heal the sick; house the homeless; alleviate poverty, injustice and oppression; comfort those in mourning; and care for the cosmos by transforming and CoCreating in the world around us as Christ teaches us – then science and technology are vital aids. That is because science is tested experiential knowledge and tech is the physical matter by which we enact these goals via actualized belief.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. In what ways in your life do you practically live out Ephesians 4:1-2?
Q2. When we practice living out the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 – How does that practically impact those who seek to engage us in conflict methodology?
Q3. In what practical ways have you seen Science and Technology further the Great Commission that Christ calls Christians to live out in Matthew 28:19?