Thursday, May 21, 2020

Where is God in a Pandemic?

Tim Keller and Francis Collins (the scientist who completed the genomic code) talk about where God is in the pandemic. I encourage everyone to listen to this! If you want to skip some introductory stuff, you can start at about 14:29.

Some notes I took with places in the video:

14:29 - The start of a discussion about the current situation and what the church can do in response, the scientific work going on, including a vaccine currently in development, and how the big pharma companies are actually working together - 18 companies working together and actually not worrying "about who gets credit and who makes money."

26:39 - Vaccines and conspiracies question, how do we get along with people who disagree with us.

29:01 - Keller: Suspicion about scientific expertise, particularly acute amongst Christians. Response must be both critiquing and affirming.

29:40 - Keller: Christians have got some reason to be wary, not so much of scientists, but of people who come trying to make a case of something and invoking science, when actually they're making moral decisions or philosophical arguments and they're cloaking it in science.

For example, there really are a fair number of scientists who will take their cultural capital -- science has a lot of cultural capital because of all the accomplishments -- and they'll say -- not too many but some -- "Science proves that there's no God, that there's no soul, that there's nothing beyond this." Some scientists tell us these things, many making money right now with books and things are saying these things.

Christians look at this and say, "Sorry, science does not tell you these things." That's what you might call scientism, a philosophy that says there's nothing real that cannot be empirically proven, there's no reality outside of the natural and material.

With that history, you can see why Christians become wary when people come and say we have this agenda and it's totally scientific.

German philosopher Jurgen Habermaster:
Science can tell you what you can do and what you can't do but science cannot tell you whether or not you should do it.

I can understand that wariness.

On the other hand, Christians should know better, and here's where I would push back.

Herbert Butterfield's book: The Origins of Modern Science. Buddhism and Hinduism didn't believe nature was real. Other religions have nature as power poles battling against each other.

Along comes Christianity which says there's one God, a personal God, who creates the world as an artist, a rational God, and it's in that soil that science can grow. There's nature, a uniformity to nature, orderliness to nature, and the reality is that it was in Christianity where the whole idea of science grew up.

Quotes Bible stories where Jesus showed he knew the difference between demon possession and sick people. He doesn't see everything as a demonic thing. Paul tells Timothy to take wine as medicine to help his stomach, God tells Hezekiah to put some figs on the boil. The Bible is filled with reasons to trust science - not scientism, but science. But I am sympathetic to the use of science to attack Christianity.

36:39 - Prayer or science? What's God doing? Where is God in a pandemic?

38:23  - Keller: Somebody might say, sure he was here, but he isn't anymore.

38:33 - Keller: When he meets Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), he says, Paul, Paul, why are you persecuting *me*? Jesus is present in this world, particularly his people. He is still in the midst of this people and their suffering.

39:27  - Keller: Why did he allow this to happen? Lazarus has died and Mary and Martha ask why did Jesus allow this to happen? Jesus does not give an explanation. He prays, he weeps, he helps, and he does so sacrificially. He doesn't give an explanation and he's there. He prays,, he weeps, he helps, and he does so sacrificially.

We don't know why he's allowing the pandemic right now, we just know it's not because he doesn't love us.

We should follow Jesus. We shouldn't try to explain why is God allowing this to happen. No Christian ought to give an answer. They should pray, help, weep, sacrifice, and be where everybody else is suffering.

Innocent sufferers like Job and Jesus. They remained faithful and that is how they defeat Satan. In both cases, Satan is defeated. If you're faithful you're defeating Satan and getting closer to God, besides helping people.

45  - Keller: Disproportional suffering. Churches need to help each other, churches with more resources help other churches with less.

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