What the Governor-General Got Right

I was a bit hard on Her Majesty’s representative last week as I encouraged her to stick to what she knows and what her office allows…instead of taking swipes at people’s religious beliefs in the name of science.

My main concern was her dismissal of anyone who believes in “divine intervention” regarding the origins of the universe or of life on earth. Lots of people, I averred, are well qualified in the appropriate sciences and still believe in God the Creator.

Still, a lot of us Christians share her exasperation about how science is treated by many of our co-religionists.

The flat denial of all forms of evolution, for instance, on the specious ground that evolution is supposedly incompatible with Genesis 1-3 persists across North America despite more than a century of Bible-believing Christians showing how at least some forms of biological evolution square nicely with reverent understandings of Scripture.

Faith-healing extremists continue risk their own lives and those of their children despite the teaching of mainstream Christianity that God heals primarily through the body’s own devices aided by medical science, and only rarely through prayer-fueled miracles.

And so-called Biblical or Christian or spiritual counselors offer psychotherapy according to principles they have derived from Scripture with no attention to decades of careful psychological research, thus imperiling their clients’ mental health and the welfare of their significant others as they offer spiritual band-aids when much deeper psychiatric rehabilitation is needed.

The Scientific Revolution itself was led by Bible-believing Christians. Some of them, to be sure, had odd views of the Bible: Isaac Newton himself, who energetically pursued eccentric views of Biblical prophecy, was perhaps foremost among them in both respects. But the roster of scientific luminaries identifying seriously as Christians includes many in the Science Hall of Fame up to our own era, from Galileo, Kepler, and Pascal to Faraday, Kelvin, and Planck.

These Christians would share the Governor-General’s dismay at the pious stubbornness that continues to cripple the minds of many Christians today: the misguided idea that faithful believers must choose between loyalty to the Bible and appreciation for science.