“No animal may continue to exist, no bird fly in the air, or insect roam at will, except by the will of man. He now chooses which trees, plants and grasses are useful to him at present, and eliminates the remainder. Modern medicine keeps alive the unfit, who would not have survived under the natural conditions where mankind evolved from lower forms of life, and allows them to breed. This control of all life on the planet throws a very great responsibility on the shoulders of mankind. Unwise action, whether in ignorance or deliberate, could result in irretrievable harm. Only increasing knowledge can ensure that man’s mistakes are few, and this can come only from researches in the basic sciences.”
These are the words of Sir Mark Oliphant, one of Australia’s greatest scientists, as he surveyed the awesome possibilities now before mankind. He was arguing that we have for too long put up with the idea that there may be two cultures, a scientific culture and one more closely connected with the humanities. His thought is that this will not do for the needs of our day. Unless there is a greater willingness all round to see life as one whole, we will be in trouble.
This is, of course, a position that many Christian thinkers have also been arguing for a long time. They have been pointing out that on New Testament premises it is not possible to confine one’s Christianity to any one part of life. Either Christ is Lord of all we do and are or we have no real claim to be among his followers. All of life is God’s.
Sir Mark is not writing as a Christian apologist. He is a man of science, and he sees the dangers in which we stand with frightening clarity. Man is supreme over his environment, holding in his power the fate of birds, animals, ...1
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