At the dawn of a new millennia, we approach a major fork in the drama of human history, with regard to our deepest values and the other verities of our lives. More technically, a fundamental choice is being made in Western Civilization which started in earnest 140 years ago. Somehow the choice, the path, seems to represent itself to us in yet more profound ways. Looking back we may perceive cycles in the ebb and flow of acendency between two deeply different world views and visions of the future. What is different in our present times is the depth of the trough to which the Judeao-Christian world view now finds itself. In times past, there was always a strong reserve of Christian sympathies, tendencies and basic belief. Today, tragically, the Christian church in America stands ravished, bleeding by the side of the path. So many of our people have been unfaithful to the Lord of the church by their behavior, unbelief and apathy.
The new millennia brings both despair and the promise of a new hope. The tragedy of Western Civilization is that it is a post Christian culture, yet, the hope is that echoes of Christendom still remain to be heard, and the Lord of the Church is extending a choice to seize the Grace to reclaim that which has been lost and to rebuild a bright new future. What is this possibility of hope to which the Lord of the Church invites us to grasp ?
As I ruminate on stories of the Bible, the example of Daniel and his three friends has unescapable parallels with our own times. As Solomon has said "there is nothing really new under the sun." In the Daniel story we see a nation, the commonwealth of God, come to a sorry end owing to evil, apostasy and unbelief. How so very much like our own times this is, though we have been spared the violence of oppression for yet a little longer by the Mercy of God. However, in ideological ways we have suffered a metaphorical violence at the hands of those who hate is in ways which parallel the physical violence which terminated the life of the nation of Judah. It seems all that is left are the captives, who were kept around for their potential usefulness, a respite which could end at any time depending upon the caprice, the whim of their captors.
Yet in their time of despair, our God selected four young men of intelligence and raised them up for the benefit and sustenance of the remaining captives; who's only hope of survival as a people was for their God to intervene in a supernatural way. God's intervention took the form of people, who had faith in Him, to whom he gave special gifts of intelligence and favor/sympathy with the secular authorities. God was willing to show secrets regarding time and the natural world to his four servants; especially to Daniel, the young man who determined in his heart he would remain pure and faithful to his God.
Yes, the story of Daniel tells us our God is a "revealer of Mysteries." But what does this story mean to us moderns, who have such lofty attainments in science and knowledge ? What need do we have of a God " veals mysteries" in an age where we have sequenced the entire human genome ? How may we stand before the forces of evil in our modern world ? Our adversaries insist there is no Divine intervention in the universe, that all we see is a consequence of chance and eternal matter, that material reductionism is the only allowable philosophy of science. How can we stand before the onslaught of the enemies of the Lord of the church ?
The story of Daniel and his three friends beckons to us down through the long dusty centuries. Their story of faith is truly immortal and in their example we may find solace and a plan for the future, a plan which will allow us to take victory from the hand of our God. There is a simple truth of human cultures we can see in this story, and we can see still. Simply put, small numbers of people, movers and shakers, cultural icons, whatever you chose to call them, shape the directions and beliefs of cultures. We see today's "court of the king" in our mediums of communication, and more importantly in our Universities and other institutions of research and higher learning. Then as now, a culture looks to the "learned," to the prophets and sages for answers to the complex questions of life and to inform our deepest beliefs, those which shape our view of the world around us and how we live our lives.
Yes, our God is still a "Revealer of mysteries," but it is our task to tap into the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God for the benefit of our times. One may question the need for such an approach in view of the advances of modern science, which inspires one author to entitle his book "the end of science." I believe there are significant new scientific and technological advances yet to be achieved, particularly in the realm of the biota, living things, which the perceptive may see are the crown jewels of the universe, in all their beauty and complexity. Yes, whole genomes have be sequenced, yet what does it all mean, and how does it all plug and play together? We've only opened the door on a large vault, a treasure trove of wonders prepared by our God which testify to His Glory.
The lesson of Daniel is clear to an age obsessed by knowledge, and scientific and technological achievement. Christian scientists can be used of God, to testify to the Glory of God, to bring forth new discoveries from the treasure of the biota. We can individually and corporately pray to our God, and believe the Lord of the Church for insight, wisdom and scientific discoveries. We can obtain insights and new discoveries in fundamental research, and we can do this on the job in our careers, all by allowing God to be God and the Senior partner of our research and efforts. The modern Daniel's who work in the pagan world of science and technology, should lift their heads to a higher calling and find new meaning in their work. Christians working in science and technology have a unique opportunity to shine like stars in the dark sky and to draw others, and even draw entire cultures to the Lord of the Universe by means of scientific and technological achievements inspired by the "God veals mysteries."
As we move into the new millennium, I hope we will individually and corporately remember to ask the Lord for favor with our colleagues and superiors, to ask him to show us new discoveries and guide our research in tangible ways. In this fashion, we may make God the Lord of our lives in a fuller way, a way in which we may profit many people and bring honor to the King of kings and Lord of Lords.
I have taken the liberty of extracting certain passages from the book of Daniel, and arranging in a format to bring out the essentials of a facet of the Daniel story relevant to the work of Christian's who seek to make their discipline of science or technology into a ministry.
Following the Bible passages are statements abstracted from some Humanist publications illustrating the implications of the Neo-Darwinian Evolutionary theory to extend way beyond a simple scientific theory. If evolution was just a simple scientific theory, and not an origin myth upon which whole world views are based, there would not be the critical need we each see to pursue God inspired research for a workable alternative.
From the book of Daniel.
["The Modern Language Bible. The New Berkeley Version in Modern English." Ed. Gerrit Verkuyl, PhD. (c) Zondervan Publishing House]
[7.19] "Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth
animal, so different from all the others, exceedingly terrible,
with iron teeth and bronze claws, which devoured and tore in pieces,
trampling what remained of a victim under its feet;
[7.20] ... - the horn which had eyes and a mouth speaking great things; the horn that seemed stronger than its fellows.
[7.21] This horn I saw making war against the saints, and it was prevaileng against them
[7.22] until the Ancient of Days came, and the court took its seat and dominion was given to the saints of the Most High and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. ...
[7.25] He shall speak words against the Most High; he shall plan to change the scraed seasons and the law, ...
THE HORN SPEAKS (see appendix below):
"The Secular Humanist tradition is a tradition of defiance, a tradition that dates back to ancient Greece. ... The best example here is the character Prometheus. ... He stole the fire of the gods and brought it down to earth. For this he was punished. And yet he continued his defiance amid his tortures. This is the root of the Humanist challenge to authority. ... The next time we see a truly heroic Promethean character in mythology it is Lucifer in John Milton's Paradise Lost. But now he is the Devil. He is evil. Whoever would defy God must be wickedness personified. That seems to be a given of traditional religion. But the ancient Greeks didn't agree. To them, Zeus, for all his power, could still be mistaken."
"Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful ... Rather, science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces. ... Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.... Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process ... Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected."
THE SOLUTION PLAYS OUT:
From the book of Daniel -
[1.8] Daniel, however, made up his mind not to render himself
[1.9] Then God granted Daniel favor and sympathy from the chief of the eunuchs, ...
[1.17] As for these four youths, God gave them mastery and understanding in all the literature and science, and Daniel gained insight in every kind of vision and dream.
[1.20] On all subjects in which grasp and information counted, the king, as he questioned them, found them ten times more able than all the magicians and astrologers in his entire realm. ...
[2.17] Then Daniel went home and explained the matter to his
companions, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,
[2.18] that they might ask the God of heaven to be merciful concerning this mystery; and that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of teh wise men of Babylon.
[2.19] Then the myhstery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven, saying:
[2.20] "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might! ...
[2.22] He reveals deep and mysterious things; ...
[2.23] I thank Thee and praise Thee, O God of my fathers; for Thou hast given me wisdom and strength, and hast made known to me what we assked of Thee; for Thou hast made known to us what the king demanded." ...
[2.46] Then king Nebuchadrezzar fell on his face, prostrated
himself before Daniel ...
[2.47] The king confessed to Daniel, "Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings and a revealer of secrets; for you have ably revealed the mystery!"
THE HORN SPEAKS -
"The Secular Humanist tradition is a tradition of defiance, a tradition that dates back to ancient Greece. One can see, even in Greek mythology, Humanist themes that are rarely, if ever, manifested in the mythologies of other cultures. And they certainly have not been repeated by modern religions. The best example here is the character Prometheus.
Prometheus stands out because he was idolized by ancient Greeks as the one who defied Zeus. He stole the fire of the gods and brought it down to earth. For this he was punished. And yet he continued his defiance amid his tortures. This is the root of the Humanist challenge to authority.
The next time we see a truly heroic Promethean character in mythology it is Lucifer in John Milton's Paradise Lost. But now he is the Devil. He is evil. Whoever would defy God must be wickedness personified. That seems to be a given of traditional religion. But the ancient Greeks didn't agree. To them, Zeus, for all his power, could still be mistaken."
Humanist Manifesto I
"We therefore affirm the following:
FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing
and not created.
SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that
he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the
traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
FOURTH: Humanism recognizes that man's religious culture and
civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are
the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with
his natural environment and with his social heritage. The
individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by
FIFTH: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted
by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic
guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the
possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist
that the way to determine the existence and value of any and all
realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assess-
ment of their relations to human needs. Religion must formulate
its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and
Humanist Manifesto II
-- Preface --
"It is forty years since Humanist Manifesto I (1933) appeared. ...
As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism,
especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and
care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be
able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded
faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as
harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter.
Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.
-- Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson (1973)
FIRST: In the best sense, religion may inspire dedication to the
highest ethical ideals. The cultivation of moral devotion and
creative imagination is an expression of genuine "spiritual"
experience and aspiration.
We believe, however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian
religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human
needs and experience do a disservice to the human species. Any
account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence;
in our judgment, the dogmas and myths of traditional religions do
not do so. Even at this late date in human history, certain
elementary facts based upon the critical use of scientific reason
have to be restated. We find insufficient evidence for belief in
the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or
irrelevant to the question of survival and fulfillment of the
human race. As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature
not deity. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we now
know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our
knowledge of the natural. ...
SECOND: Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal
damnation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans
from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from
rectifying social injustices. Modern science discredits such
historic concepts as the "ghost in the machine" and the "separable
soul." Rather, science affirms that the human species is an
emergence from natural evolutionary forces. ..."
(C) Copyright 1973 by the American Humanist Association
Back to Lambert Dolphin's Library
February 6, 2001