On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 — which my father in law contributed to as an electrical engineer — I thought I’d write about a couple of the anti-science positions of Stanton. Stanton came from the old-guard of Biblical exposition: If your understanding of the Bible contradicts science, throw out the science. Don’t even question that maybe your exegesis of scripture might be wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to say that the scientific establishment speaks the truth all the time. It has become very politicized as government funding has taken over what I like to call Big Science. Scientific schools of inquiry are incentivized by their funding biases to produce conclusions that I don’t always agree with (think Big Pharma, for instance). But the moon landing? Yeah, it happened.
What’s particularly interesting about this subject is that I had never heard that Merie taught against the moon landing until I started this blog and others told me. And mind you, I grew up in the sect literally from birth (the Stanton congregation was started by my parents about the time I was born), and I have many memories of driving to the Spring Valley Church of Christ to listen to Merie pound the table with her fiery rhetoric. But I never picked up on the moon landing denial at that age.
Maybe it was because my dad was a pilot as a young man, and had a strong interest in science. His dad (my grandpa) was retired from Ryan Aeronautics, and had great respect for American aviation technology. It’s possible that my dad simply put his foot down on that particular doctrine and banned it from the home. Nevertheless, many sources have reported here that Merie and the church did indeed teach that the moon landing was faked, probably based on a really faulty exegesis of this scripture:
Acts 17:26 – From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
The historicity of dinosaurs was also an issue that I dealt with more personally growing up. My dad was very clear that dinosaurs did exist, and even showed me photos of dinosaur footprints contemporaneously in the fossil record with human footprints. Yet my mom adamantly tried to convince me that dinosaurs were fictional creatures made up by scientists just to try to discredit the Bible. Yet I believe the Bible alludes to dinosaurs in more than one place.
That doesn’t mean I buy into the mainstream evolutionary timeline for dinosaurs. I don’t think they lived millions of years ago, and a lot of scientists agree with me. But they did live, and contemporaneously with man. I believe they went extinct due to hunting by humans for protection or just plain fear, and also due to Noah’s flood. In fact, the only reason we have fossils at all is due to Noah’s flood. But I digress.
So what’s the proper balance between honoring science vs. the Bible? The answer is maybe a little more complicated than some would like. If you are predisposed to think that anything promoted in the press as “science” today is infallible, you will probably think it is anti-intellectual to even question “prevailing opinion.” But you may have realized by now that the scientific “establishment” does get it wrong now and then. That’s because the money that funds scientific studies comes with ideological strings attached. Think global warming/climate change, for instance. Someone who merely questions the “prevailing theory” of anthropogenic global warming can’t get funding, which essentially cuts off most avenues for research along other lines of inquiry. That would be like trying to figure out planetary motion, but choosing consider the theory that the earth revolves around the sun to be heretical. You know, kind of like the predicament Galileo was in.
Therefore, I think the most prudent balance between Bible and science is for both scientists and theologians to maintain some humility. I believe the Bible to be accurate, but our understanding of it is necessarily flawed as humans. Just as scientists can make mistakes in their conclusions about evolution, global warming, and other things, so Christians can make mistakes in our Biblical exegesis. Christians don’t have to be anti-science any more than scientists have to be anti-Christian.
In fact, some of the most life changing discoveries in science have been by believers. Christians should not shy away from studying the natural sciences. Maybe the “bounds of our habitation” will even extend to Mars someday. If that happens, rest assured that it won’t be because mankind has “ruined” the planet. That’s a little bit sci-fi and alarmist, in my opinion. Instead, it will be because of the intense curiosity God put in mankind to learn about the world God designed for us.
Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.