Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Scientist in Church

It is part of the ethos of scientists to be skeptical in many areas of life. I think this is particularly true because as a scientist, we also have a particular incentive to make claims of discovery. Our propensity to discover new and important knowledge that may impact society is likely the fuel that keeps the flame of science from being snuffed out. At the same time, making claims that cannot be replicated is a sure-fire way to ensure that one’s career and reputation will be snuffed out. 
In addition, I have had personal experiences in which a rational and well thought-out experiment can have unexplained and counterintuitive results. Therefore, I can say unequivocally that there was at least one thing wrong with my thinking about that particular experiment. Unfortunately, I think many people outside of science rarely get to this process of their own flawed logic in such a tangible way. People largely prefer to support their thinking process despite the evidence.
In First Thessalonians 5:19-22, Paul tells the people that they should test what they hear people say about the scriptures. What he said implies that some of the information being spread was not in accordance with spirit and truth of God’s word. 
The first lesson Paul appears to be giving is that Christians should not automatically dismiss new ideas. Far too often, the culture of Christianity involves exactly the opposite of what Paul is suggesting. We retreat to our churches to find other people who agree with us, not those who might challenge us to think differently.
Instead of automatically accepting or rejecting ideas, I think Christians could use a little more science-styled thinking. The science-oriented thinker does not outwardly reject or accept newer ideas, but they tests them to assess their validity or utility. What if Churches started testing new ideas? How might that change how we treat people who think differently than us? 

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