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No. 245 "Vital Articles on Science/Creation" November 1993
CHRISTIANITY AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCE
The Astonishing Connection
by T. V. Varughese, Ph.D.*
Copyright (c) 1993 by I.C.R.
All Rights Reserved
* Dr. Varughese is Associate Professor of Computer Science in the
School of Management and Technology, National University, Irvine,
California, and adjunct professor of Physics at ICR.
Without question, "technology" has now become the new magic word in
place of the word "science." Since technology represents the practical
applications of science, it is clearly consumer-oriented. Herein is
bright economic promise to all who can provide technology.
In terms of technology, our present world can be divided into at
least three groups: countries that are strong providers of technology,
both original and improved; countries that are mass producers because of
cheaper labor; and countries that are mostly consumers. Without a doubt,
being in the position of "originating" superior technology should be a
goal for any major country. The difficult question, however, is "how."
An obvious place to start suggests itself. Why not begin with the
countries that have established themselves as strong originators of
technology and see if there is a common thread between them? The western
nations, after the Renaissance and the Reformation of the 16th century,
offer a ready example. Any book on the history of inventions, such as
the _Guinness Book of Answers_, will reveal that the vast majority of
scientific inventions originated in Europe (including Britain) and the
USA since the dawn of the 17th century. What led to the fast
technological advances in the European countries and North America
around that time?
The answer is that something happened which set the stage for science
and technology to emerge with full force. Strange as it may seem, that
event is the return to Biblical Christianity in these countries.
The Epistemological Foundation of Technology
According to Alfred North Whitehead and J. Robert Oppenheimer, both
renowned philosophers and scientists of our era (but not Christians
themselves), modern science was born out of the Christian world view.
Whitehead said that Christianity is the "mother of science" because of
the insistence on the rationality of God. Entomologist Stanley Beck,
though not a Christian himself, acknowledged the corner-stone premises
of science which the Judeo-Christian world view offers: "The first of
the unprovable premises on which science has been based is the belief
that the world is real and the human mind is capable of knowing its real
nature. The second and best-known postulate underlying the structure of
scientific knowledge is that of cause and effect. The third basic
scientific premise is that nature is unified." In other words, the
epistemological foundation of technology has been the Judeo-Christian
world view presented in the Bible.
This may sound incredible to some because of the popular feeling that
science and religion don't mix. Didn't Christianity vehemently oppose
Galileo and Copernicus when they proposed the modern models for the
The truth, however, is that the real conflict was not between
Christianity, as presented in the Bible, and science. In fact, the true
conflict was not between science and religion at all, but between the
existing scientific view and a new scientific view. The geocentric world
view held at that time was not based on the Bible but on the Ptolemaic
system which was rooted in the views of Plato and Aristotle.
Historians have observed that the foundations for modern science were
laid as early as the thirteenth century when scholars like Roger Bacon
showed that Aristotle made certain mistakes about natural phenomena.
Medieval science was based on authority--primarily of Aristotle--rather
than observation. It developed through logic, rather than
experimentation. Both Copernicus and Galileo challenged Aristotle's
authority, using experimentation in the spirit of modern science. The
Biblical emphasis of the Reformation, just prior to this, had already
paved the way for dropping Aristotle's authority; it also encouraged the
rational investigation of our world.
Perhaps the most obvious affirmation that Biblical Christianity and
science are friends and not foes comes from the fact that most of the
early scientists since the Renaissance were also strong believers in the
Bible as the authoritative source of knowledge concerning the origin of
the universe and man's place in it. The book of Genesis, the opening
book of the Bible, presents the distinctly Judeo-Christian world view of
a personal Creator God behind the origin and sustenance of the universe
(Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:17; etc.).
Among the early scientists of note who held the Biblical creationist
world view are Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727),
and Samuel Morse (1791-1872) what motivated them was a confidence in the
"rationality" behind the universe and the "goodness" of the material
world. The creation account in Genesis presents an intelligent,
purposeful Creator, who, after completing the creation work, declared it
to be very good (Genesis 1:31). That assures us that the physical
universe operates under reliable laws which may be discovered by the
intelligent mind and used in practical applications. The confidence in
the divinely pronounced goodness of the material world removed any
reluctance concerning the development of material things for the
betterment of life in this world. The spiritual world and the material
world can work together in harmony.
Genesis also gives another important motivation for the investigation
of the laws of nature and application of it to technology. That is the
divine mandate given to man to subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26-28).
Obviously, the discovery of the laws of nature is the key to harnessing
the powers of nature for man's use and control. Herein is the key to the
motivation for developing technology. Genesis 4 records the earliest
technological developments by man (4:21-22).
The world view held in many cultures, however, is different from the
Biblical creationist view. Religions influenced by dualistic
philosophies view the material world with suspicion and hostility. The
material world is considered evil, while the spiritual world is
considered good and noble. Renouncing this world became the mark of
holiness. Equally detrimental to the development of science were world
views that did not have a concept of a supreme personal Creator God.
Some of the ancient civilizations, for example, which did develop some
mathematics, and technologies did not develop general scientific
theories, because of the absence of a creationist perspective that gives
confidence in the existence of rational laws in nature. This clearly
explains the lack of interest on the part of these cultures in
scientific research and technology. It also shows how the Reformation,
with its return to Biblical Christianity, spurred a phenomenal interest
in fundamental research and technology. The great scientific advances
and the industrial revolution that followed bear this out.
The ethical foundation of technology
The rise of North America to dominance in technology is related to
the Judeo-Christian foundation with which it started. The founding
fathers of the United States of America were theists who believed in a
Creator who gave moral rules by which to live. The work ethic they
practiced also contributed to the rapid progress of the country. In this
ethic, all honest work was regarded as dignified, not just the "white
collar" jobs. This also has Christian roots. Jesus, the founder of
Christianity, Himself chose the profession of a carpenter prior to His
ministry. Along with this work ethic, there was also the right climate
for initiating research. The free-enterprise system allowed individuals
and private groups to carry on research and to develop technology.
There is no question that technology has given us untold blessings.
But technology has also been used for monstrous destruction and human
misery. This should alert us to the fact that technology, by itself, is
not the means of salvation. Releasing the technology genie has caused
our world to go out of control. The apocalyptic vision of some super
dictator controlling humanity, using the incredible power of the
computer or the atom, is no longer a laughing matter. The potential for
deception through technology, coupled with the illegal use of
technology, has also become a serious concern.
How can we hold in check the wrong use of technology? Here again,
Christianity offers its powerful contribution. Jesus summed up the right
law to live by in human relationships thus: "Love your neighbor as
yourself" a powerful principle, indeed. It allows no justification for
using technology to bring harm to others. On the positive side, this law
encourages us to develop that which serves humanity. The ethical
standards of Biblical Christianity also include the practice of honesty
and integrity. The need for these in the handling of technology is being
The rise of evolutionist philosophy in the 19th century has led to
the erosion of the epistemological and ethical foundations of sound
technological advance. The collapse of moral absolutes resulting from it
sets the stage for selfish and harmful use of technology. This poses a
threat to the economic welfare of countries where easy credit is
available and the appetite for more and more technological gadgets is
There are hopeful signs, however. Evolution theory itself has now
collapsed under scientific scrutiny. Further, the foundations have not
been totally abandoned by scientists. They have been carrying on their
research as usual, as if they believe in the design and orderly laws of
the universe--a belief that has its roots in the Judeo-Christian world
view. The gospel of Christ cannot only hold in check the destructive use
of technology by its emphasis on loving others as ourselves, but also
provides the antidote for selfish greed, which is behind our runaway
buying habits. Jesus emphasized that the abundance of things does not
Back in 1832, Darwin, during his famous trip on the "Beagle," visited
Tierra del Fuego, the southern coastal region of South America inhabited
by savage barbarians and observed man at his worst. Their depravity was
shocking to him. Darwin swore that the Fuegian savages were untamable.
Within a few years, however, the Fuegian savages were converted, through
the efforts of a missionary sent by the South American Missionary
Society who brought the gospel to these people. They were radically
transformed into a rational and civilized people. Darwin was very
impressed by the success of the Missionary Society. Keen to spread the
blessings of civilization, Darwin sent donations to the mission for
several years. Thirty-five years after his visit to Tierra del Fuego, he
proudly accepted the invitation from the South American Missionary
Society to become its honorary member.
That power to transform individuals and nations is still available.
The "Good News" Jesus brought is that the power to love others as
ourselves is available to all, from the Creator. When we have that love,
technology will be a blessing to all.
1. Francis A. Schaeffer: _How_Should_We_Then_Live_ (Revell, 1976), p.
2. Henry M. Morris, _Biblical_Basis_for_Modern_Science_ (Baker, 1991),
3. Schaeffer, p. 131.
4. Henry M. Morris, _Men_of_Science,_Men_of_God_ (Master Books, CA,
1988), 107 pp.
5. Adrian Desmond & James Moore, _Darwin_ (Warner Books, 1991), pp.
This "Impact" was converted to ASCII, for BBS use,
from the original formatted desktop article.
Comments regarding typographical errors
in the above material are appreciated.
Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator
Fax: (619) 448-3469
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in the form of two documents:
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and "Tenets of Biblical Creationism."
(see Impact No. 85)
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