Mind over Matter
[Jesus said:] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” [Matthew 7:21-23].
Preachers and teachers, clergy and scholars often find themselves trying to convince their followers/students that they are the licensed bearers of wisdom and the legitimate beacons of truth. They find it necessary to defend their professional and personal beliefs by attacking those that contradict or rival their own.
All things—every academic discipline—were made by God and for God. His fingerprints are everywhere. The main meaning of all things derives from their relation to God. Not to seek that meaning with all our heart and mind and soul is to be superficial, no matter what grades we make, no matter what articles we publish. [John Piper].
Neither science nor religion can afford to be proven wrong, or so each thinks. This poses the risk that bias and even fraud may arise. In their quest to represent the truth to humanity, many are guilty of manipulation, fabrication and deceit.
Skeptics would rather, even at their own expense, appear to be right than take the risk of trusting. [John Ortberg, Faith & Doubt, p. 124].
A Mind of Our Own
Whether it be scandals or scams in the church, in corporate board rooms or in science laboratories, we have grown accustomed to news stories depicting flawed values and dishonest practices. Our sense of impropriety has grown numb as virtues pose for the cameras, and media “spins” its threads around integrity.
Every logical position will eventually lead you into trouble, and heresy, and chaos. Every logical position is consistent, but it is logic which is in the human mind, not God’s logic. The human mind is finite and cannot grasp eternity, and therefore the finite mind sees the infinite as not graspable coherently. If we could grasp it all coherently, without contradiction, we would be God. The person who insists on being logical to the end winds up in a mess. I am not saying that we should not be rational. I am not anti-intellectual. I am saying that the intellect by itself is helpless to arrive at total truth. [Kenneth L. Pike, Ph.D.].
Part of the problem arises from the significant investment scholars, theologians and scientists make in their careers. When we study something for twenty or thirty years, we clearly have a stake in it remaining not only a viable discipline or doctrine, but a respected and prestigious one.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. [James 3:14 (NASB)].
It is easy to propound and advocate a point of view while living in a way totally contrary to it. We can easily become accustomed to our prestige and enjoy our enviable status, even while espousing humility and self-denial. We resort to rhetorical speech and hypocritical action, protecting our achievements and honor, even at the price of lying and dishonesty.
Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that, if a man believes his own mind, it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain. [John Calvin].
Out of Our Minds
The increasingly passionate debate between religion and science suggests that the sides are becoming less rational and more emotionally invested. As in any conflict, the demonizing, ridiculing and misrepresenting of the opposition become expedient.
“… within the biology community and within the science community generally, they see the increasing attacks creationists are making as very threatening to their existence – and vice versa, to a certain extent.” [Steven K. Green, Director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy].
Religions can cover truth as layers of paint cover the articulated design carved on a wall. To make truth clear, religious scholars and apologists gild it with refined thoughts. After a while the painted thoughts are all that people see.
When truth is obscured or buried, with little relief in sight, science can often be used to remove the gilded layers distorting truth. However, this can be performed only by sympathetic artisans seeking to advance it, not by malevolent partisans aiming to exploit and commercialize truth, or by prejudiced overseers with questionable motives.
We do raise to [high] degrees [of knowledge] whomever We will – but above everyone who is endowed with knowledge there is One who knows all. [Quran 12:76].