Woeful Response from the Church

Last week in my blog and in our News to Note section of the AiG website, we commented on the new book by physicist Stephen Hawking and on associated news reports, which stated Hawking had concluded that “God had no role in the creation of the universe.”

News reports are now appearing that are quoting religious leaders and others in England reacting to Hawking’s new book. Even though I realize one can’t always trust newspaper reporting, the quotes in the articles do represent what I have read and heard from many of these same people, so I believe these fairly represent what they are claiming.  And in what I call their woeful responses, they say one of the reasons why the church is so dead in England (and in fact, across the entire United Kingdom and Europe).  Here is a compilation of their statements from a CNN report:

London, England (CNN) — Religious leaders in Britain on Friday hit back at claims by leading physicist Stephen Hawking that God had no role in the creation of the universe. . . .

But the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, told the Times that “physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing.”

He added: “Belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the Universe. It is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence.”

. . . Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said: “Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation … The Bible simply isn’t interested in how the Universe came into being.”

The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, added: “I would totally endorse what the Chief Rabbi said so eloquently about the relationship between religion and science.”

Hawking was also accused of “missing the point” by colleagues at the University of Cambridge in England. . . .

“Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how [existence] may happen, but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative,” he added.”

These comments reflect a major problem in the church. Many church leaders (including many from even what would be called evangelical conservative churches) misunderstand “science” and the issue of origins. They continue to look on the Bible as a book of religion instead of a book of real history. They don’t understand that the word “science” means knowledge. There is a massive difference between, on the one hand, knowledge gained by observation and experimentation in the present, and on the other hand, our attempts to gain knowledge concerning past origins (when we were not there). They continue to believe that when a scientist is talking about the issue of origins (knowledge about the past that cannot be directly observed/tested-historical science), he can do so with the same authority as when he talks about operational science (knowledge gained by direct observation and experimental science that builds our technology and finds cures for disease).

In reality, they have relegated God’s Word to a fallible book of teaching, but treat man’s word concerning the unobserved past as infallible. The Bible does not just tell us who and why, but it tells us how; and it gives very specific information concerning history.  For example, the Bible tells us God made the earth before the sun, moon, and stars, and it was initially completely covered in water. This is totally different to the big bang idea that has the sun before the earth, and the earth as a hot molten blob that cooled down for millions of years. The secularists believe that life began in the oceans, but the Bible makes it clear that land plants were created before life existed in the oceans. There are many articles on the AiG website that deal with how the evolutionary story contradicts what God’s Word teaches.

The point I want to make is that these church leaders have departed from the authority of the Word of God, and they take man’s word as infallible and use this to reinterpret the Word of God. When you think about it, Jesus is the Word, so in not taking God at His Word, they are really attacking the Son of God—attacking the living Word (as John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word . . . ”) who inspired the written Word to be written.

This attack on God’s Word (and thus on His Son) is a major reason why the Western world has been dying spiritually from a Christian perspective.  The church leaders in England need to look at their country and the mess it is in, and understand they will stand before the true God (the God of the Bible) one day and give account for their actions. They are like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day—leading the people of Israel astray and into idolatry (Jeremiah 23)—and also like the religious leaders of Jesus day doing the same (Matthew 23).  Today much of the church worships science and regard scientists as their “priests.”

And when you read the statement attributed to an Anglican priest from Cambridge, is it no wonder that statistics indicate two-thirds of young people in England no longer believe in God.  This priest is quoted in the news item from CNN:

Fraser Watts, an Anglican priest and Cambridge expert in the history of science, said that it’s not the existence of the universe that proves the existence of God.  “A creator God provides a reasonable and credible explanation of why there is a universe, and … it is somewhat more likely that there is a God than that there is not. That view is not undermined by what Hawking has said.”

Now that’s a statement that will change the world!  “It is somewhat more likely that there is a God than that there is not.”  Actually, such statements have indeed changed the world!  We see the collapse of Christianity in our Western world as coming generations depart from the church and turn their back on God.  Regardless of how fallible humans interpret the evidence of the present, God’s Word makes it clear that if someone does not believe in God, they are “without excuse,” as it is so obvious there really is a God (Romans 1:20).

You can read the entire report on CNN.com.

For our short devotion today, I thought it would be good to remind you of this passage:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20)

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken