I’ve had a bit of hiatus from the blog, and that was partly intentional as I want to continue my discussion of Focus on the Family’s Truth Project, our church has been watching and discussing together. I missed a week’s post because the section on science wound up being done in two parts, and subsequently took two weeks to get done. So . . . I watched the second installment of science last Wednesday and finally had a minute to post a few thoughts on it here (you can find the methodology behind the lessons here).
The professor of the class has been erecting pillars upon the foundation of his opening three lessons (who is God, who is man, what is truth). The first pillar was philosophy and now we come to science (to be followed by history and then ethics).
I found his two parts on science very interesting . . . and peculiar. Boiling it down, Tackett goes through a dressed up cosmological argument for the existence of God. I find it interesting that he offers this “world view” as though it is new (I mean he points to Scripture, of course, but never ackowledges the long history of the cosmological argument, although he does really like Paley’s watchmaker argument). It’s nothing more than a fancy cosmological argument with cool graphics. This argument has long been a key argument for the existence of God for Christians.
Tackett attempts to throw new fodder in the argument by utilizing skeptics of evolutionary theory from the scientific community (who are not necessarily Christians). In general, I thought the series on science was pretty good – he begins by reading, “The heavens declare the glory of God . . .” from the Psalter, and looks at the many incredible mechanisms that make up life.
The unfortunate aspect of the sessions are his insistently argumentative and combative tone when it comes to those to whom he disagrees – and in science he finds his enemy in Darwin. On several occassions, as he has throughout this series, he mocks and laughs at those who do not believe. If he had left the tone worshipful and awe-inspiring of the created order God has made . . . I would have nothing negative to say in regards to these two weeks. However, Tackett cannot leave it at that. He must deal with the “perniscious liars” who “manipulate truth” and are basically out to get us. I, again, cannot follow the rationale that gets him there.
For Tackett, it’s basically a black and white issue. God created everything (nearly, if not completey) literally as it is portrayed in the Bible. Anyone who sheds doubt on this fact is a pernicious liar and the Evil One has overtaken them. When you get through the two-week lesson you are led to believe that anyone who believes is evolution is completely ignorant and totally misled by the lies of the world. He, once again, builds up a strawman and blows him down. I know it is impossible for him to treat everything in the area of science (it is telling that he limits himself to the Darwin discussion . . . we all know what is coming as we venture nearer the topics of the state and the American experiment – he’s already tipping his hand), but I feel as though he does a great disservice by avoiding the more difficult matters.
Instead of picking up on the positives one can see in the world, the searching that continues to go on in science (this was no doubt put together before Ben Stein’s movie, Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed), and there are great steps being taken by the science community as they continue to see the incredible world. Tackett does allow for micro-evolution, however he never mentions it in the actual presentation of the two sessions, but only in the post-script seen in the second session. No doubt he’s afraid to open that can, and instead prefers to simply push it aside.
With Tacket, I see the long-held antagonism between the church and science. He is quick to mention how science was birthed from the church, but conveniently ignores the incredible persecution brought on by the church once science showed the church’s error. Are we beyond that? Could that not still happen today? Charles Darwin has left an indellible mark in science that led a 19th century scientific revolution of near Capernican caliber, surely incorrect on many accounts (how much of Galileo’s original findings were later shown to be inaccurate), but tipped a very important domino . . . and they continue to fall to this day.
While I found this session to be closer to where it needs to be, I still left disappointed with the avoidance of the the difficulties in faith and science. Too often the church portrays a message that says, “Yep, we have it all figured out, if you would just get your head out of the sand, you’d see it too.” This is exactly what Tackett says. Only the sand is the perniscious lies sold to them by Satan. Why not be up front with people ackowledging the ambiguity of the creation story? Is he not familiar with the ancient near eastern parallels with that story, or does he wish to avoid their sure controversial implications? What about the neaderthals that keep popping up? That seems to fit with Darwin better than Moses. These are the things that we are all exposed to regularly through media, and yet he wants us just to ignore it all because it is all misleading and slanted and lying.
Surely there is a middle road here: to acknowledge the incredible wonder that is seen in creation. One of Tackett’s favorite passages in this series is in Romans 1 where Paul talks of how God has clearly revealed himself in his Creation. Tackett takes that to mean that if you can’t see it you are an idiot (though he never comes right out and says it). I think he can season that with salt better and ackowledge that we are all seeking for meaning and fulfillment and just maybe we’ll see it in creation first, and have to back into a faith in God . . . and that’s ok.