Not A Leap In The Dark
On January 27, 2003 at the California Institute of Technology, Michael Crichton (remember "The Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park") made a case in his lecture for a return to hard science-a science based not on opinion or politics but upon observable, reproducible experimental results that could be verified by peers. He argued that this kind of science had extended our lifespan, fed the hungry, cured diseases, and given us jets and cell phones. So far I agree with him, but then he drew a line between "faith" and science, defining faith, as "the firm belief in something for which there is no proof." Before Crichton made such a sweeping generalization as a Harvard trained medical doctor, he should have consulted one of his colleagues from the first century, a physician who strongly disagreed with him.
Since Thanksgiving in our Truth Encounter Devos we've been tracking Dr. Luke's presentation of the birth of Jesus recorded in the first chapters of his Gospel. In this introduction he stated that his purpose was to give strong, firm, evidential support for the teaching he had received about Jesus. Luke closes his opening remarks like this,
"Because I, too, have followed accurately from the beginning all the things ("the events fulfilled among them" v. 1), I thought I should write an orderly account so that you might know, Most Excellent, Theophilus,
the certainty of the things you have been taught." - Luke 1:4
"Events," "know," "certainty"—Luke is hardly encouraging his friend to follow some blind faith for which there is no proof. Crichton failed to recognize that science with its math and experimentation is a great tool for exploring physical realities, but what about the need to evaluate the credibility of witnesses in a courtroom, or the reliability of texts in historical research? Even in our daily lives we have to make judgments about the reliability of those we deal with and the scientific method is not the tool we use to make these kinds of judgments.
Luke's proof is not experimental results and mathematical equations. Instead he presents us with the testimonies of reliable people. Beginning with the birth of John the Baptist, Luke introduced us to Zechariah and Elizabeth, a godly priestly couple with blueblood Jewish credentials. He then presented the witness of Mary, a pure virgin country girl from Nazareth, and on the night of Jesus' birth, the hardworking shepherds guarding their flocks close to Bethlehem. Gabriel, one of his strongest witnesses who appeared twice in Luke's narrative, came directly from God's presence.
As I read Luke's account, I need to open my heart to the world he is writing about and the actual people involved in the story of Jesus' birth. Then I have to make a choice. I can conclude that these witnesses were all unreliable or worse, con artists-frauds who pawned off on the world the lie that has become the belief of more than two billion-that Jesus was God's Son, born of the Virgin Mary, the One who fulfills the promises made in the Jewish Scriptures to Abraham and to David, and the Savior who can forgive us our sins.
Michael Crichton's books sold more than 200 million and millions more have seen the movies based upon his techno-thrillers, but on November 4, 2008 lymphoma took his life. He had championed rigorous experimentation in science. He cherished the wonder of the natural world, and was open to the possibility of a "god." I pray that in his innermost thoughts before his physical life ended Crichton depended upon the only Savior who according to Luke's account can give
"the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God by which the rising sun will come from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." - Luke 1:77-79
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