Most of the hospitals in our country are named after religious people or holy places. This was an observation made by a comedian who asked the question of whether you would feel comfortable going to a supposed place of science which had its roots in religion. His point was that a place named after the place where “God spoke to Moses through a burning bush” was somehow non-compatible to also be a place where science could be practiced.
This shouldn’t have surprised me. It is the cultural air we breathe. Our science-celebrating culture routinely pits science against faith of any sort. From schooling to public presentations, science is held out as the discipline that can provide all the answers. The popular concept is that science is for the enlightened, and religion (somehow especially orthodox Christianity) is for backwoods snake-handlers.
The college I attended had a “free speech” square, which was basically the plaza outside of the student center. They really pumped it up during the orientation when I visited and said that anyone could say anything while in the “free speech” square. What that meant, in reality, was that there were weird people saying some weird things. One guy stands out because he was there very often. This older fellow chose to spend his spare time standing in this plaza on one of the nice decorative rocks wearing a sandwich board with a giant list of everyone who was going to hell. He would rant and rave at the passing students, basically with one message: you are going to hell. He was a living example of the kind of person our culture believe the majority of Christians are like.
But this view of Christians and how they relate to science is to disregard history. History of how science came into being. History of how early scientists were mostly committed Christians who believe that God had ordered the universe in such a way that we could study it and know how He had done it. A comment about the naming of hospitals after religious figures of history or traditions shows a lack of understanding of how the majority of hospitals came into being. Christians led the way in starting and supporting hospitals to take care of people and serve communities.
The culture wants us to separate reason and faith. But the bible wants us to engage the mind that God gave us. Reason and faith go together. We don’t follow God blindly, but we trust God because of how He has moved through history and what the Bible declares about Him. We have a confident belief in the Word of God because it proves itself over and over.
The danger is not that the culture will think less of us – let them. The danger comes when we, Christians, start to think they are right. If we separate reason and critical thinking from our faith we start to slide into mysticism. We start to rely on our pastors and “professional” Christians to do our studying and thinking for us. We turn away from looking at the Word and instead turn toward feelings and emotions to guide us.
So be on guard. Engage your mind. Have faith. Use reason. Study science. Live in and live out theology.