No doubt it seems presumptuous to speak of the failure of science in a scientifically saturated age. Nevertheless, there is a failure aspect to science which ought to be recognized and exploited by evangelical Christians today. For this failure represents a unique opportunity for the proclamation of the Gospel with renewed effectiveness.
Faith in a New Savior
There was a time when science was hailed as the new savior. It was the modern wonder drug for the age-old ills of mankind, both collectively and individually. August Comte’s hierarchy of intellectual disciplines perfectly illustrates this idea. He claimed that the development of human society patterned the development of man’s intelligence. This occurs in three stages, the first, or earliest, of which is the theological. This is a primitive approach and will be outmoded and cast off in a progressive society, which passes through the next stage, the metaphysical, and culminates in the scientific, or positive stage.
Comte believed that man guided society into this stage by utilizing scientific principles. Darwin’s evolution gave impetus to another viewpoint, which is especially associated with Herbert Spencer. Spencer maintained that the forces that cause progress are not man-made, but part of natural evolution. But however the method, the idea of progress was in full flower, and the optimism it generated continued unabated until it was shattered by the First and Second World Wars. The intellectual world was shocked and disillusioned, and the hope of inevitable progress and belief in man’s “natural goodness” was discredited.
This whole attitude of faith in science, however, is by no means dead. There are a few scientists who still cling to their test tube faith, although ...1
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