Myth Busted!

BustedOne of my favorite shows, MythBusters, recently aired its last episode. Alas, no more urban legends busted and odd ideas ruled plausible or confirmed through the inane scientific efforts of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. No more cement being “removed” with extreme prejudice from a truck via a couple hundred pounds of high explosives. No more of Buster the crash dummy happily being dropped, shot, impaled, or otherwise macerated. The last show was a teary-eyed retrospective, complete with prerecorded comments from various scientific types and other notables, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and President Barack Obama. One of those guests was filmmaker James Cameron, who reflected:

Guys, I’m heartbroken that you’re goin’ off the air. A whole generation has grown up with this show, to be good, skeptical, critical thinkers, who will go out and prove things for themselves. You’ve taught to an entire generation to be skeptics, to think it through, to analyze it, and to know that the only truth that we really get from the world is what we can go out and test, and make happen. It’s this little thing I like to call scientific method. So you’ve performed a great public service. Thank you for that.

Yeah, there’s much to be said for the scientific method, but a titrated beaker of indifferent data is not the only truth to be found in the world. That same scientific data also reveals that there’s a Creator – that’s the natural knowledge of God. The universe is an ordered, extraordinary place, not the deranged chaos that science would predict. That design should cause us to seek God, and perhaps feel our way toward him and find him. I’d be willing to give Cameron the benefit of the doubt on all of that except there’s an underlying context that comes along with MythBusters – both Adam and Jamie are atheists and the basis of the show is a naturalistic worldview.

Says Jamie:

I have a fundamental problem with the very concept of it. I mean, faith as I understand it, and belief in things implies that you don’t require any kind of evidence or rationale behind it. It’s like you’re accepting something without question, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to do that.1

Jamie doesn’t know the God of the Bible. That God is the God of history. Not only did He create the universe, He became a part of it, causing the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the dead to rise. Then He raised Himself. Read 1 Corinthians 15. Show me the body Jamie. The empty tomb is evidence, not blind faith. People witnessed these things – they saw them happen, they proclaimed them, they wrote about them, they died for them.

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:10-14).

Adam has this to say:

You get on a plane and you fly somewhere, and the reason that plane gets you there is because of people who actually did critical thinking about a set of discreet experiments and put two and two together in order to make this impossible, thin bubble of aluminum that actually pressurizes and takes you from one place to the other. You can’t both reject evolution and know that your plane is going to keep you alive. The two are mutually exclusive.

It’s totally ironic that Adam and Jamie pit religion and science against one another, not realizing that it’s because of Christianity that the scientific method exists. Prior to Christianity, Aristotle sat out on his portico thinking deductively, drinking piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain. He sure wasn’t going to get off his chaise lounge and prove any of his ideas inductively. Doing that would have been like shaking his fist in the faces of the capricious gods of the day, who weren’t about to let some scientist disrupt the harmony of their pantheistic domain. Christians, on the other hand, know that the universe is ordered by an incarnational God who is at the same time separate from His creation. Christians therefore investigate creation to more fully understand the laws through which God governs His cosmos.2

The MythBuster view is more one of philosophy than true science. Evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Lewontin indiscreetly pulls the dressing room curtain back on the underlying thought process which drives the evolutionary materialist’s reasoning:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.3

They have exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. Yet Christ lives. He is revealed in the things that have been made, and He is revealed through His resurrection from the tomb on Easter morning. That is empirical evidence. For those who believe in Him, He gives the right to become children of God. The unsubstantiated just-so stories of the naturalist worldview don’t hold up to the evidence of the risen Savior. Myth busted!

 

“How could we call ourselves Lutherans, yes, even Christians, if we were despisers of science?” – C.F.W. Walther4

 

Endnotes

1. Quotes of Jamie and Adam come from Josh Gill, “RELIGION? MYTH BUSTED!,” Josh Gill blog, 5-18-13, https://joshgill.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/religion-myth-busted/, accessed 3-9-16.

2. Alvin J. Schmidt contrasts the Aristotelian and Christian views of the physical world and their influence on science in his book How Christianity Changed the World (Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004) 218-22.

3. Wayne Talbot, The Dawkins Deficiency: Why Evolution Is Not the Greatest Show on Earth, (Sisters, OR: Deep River Books, 2011), 8.

4. Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I (St. Louis: Concordia, 1950) 162.

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.

Comments

Myth Busted! — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks Scott. Great article. My only critique is that Jamie (and Adam) DO know the God of the Bible. He has revealed Himself to them through the things that have been made so that they are without excuse (Romans 1). And yet they suppress that truth in unrighteousness and exchange Creator for creature, as you said. Everybody knows God exists. God doesn’t believe in atheists. 😀

  2. I’m not convinced that the nominalist view of nature (upon which empirical science is based) – that God’s divine work in creating and upholding (material) nature is fundamentally *separate* from God’s (immaterial) spiritual, moral work through the material reality of nature – is true. And I don’t agree that the realist view of nature – that God’s divine work in creating and upholding the world is inherently rooted in God’s spiritual, moral purposes, so that you can’t divorce the material nature of creation from its moral nature – is inherently pantheistic (as the work cited in footnote 2 claims). Yes, God is indeed separate from His creation, but why must it follow that His divine *work* in creation is also necessarily separate from His creation?

    Modern science is blind to God’s work in the world – but they came by it naturally. By studying God’s physical work in nature apart from God’s spiritual work, empirical science separated God’s physical work and God’s spiritual work. And since God is spirit, that separated God from His work in creation – made it possible to understand the physical world apart from God. Which meant that God no longer *needed* to be actively in the picture – thus the watch-maker God, needed to get things going but unneeded to *keep* things going. And with God’s work pushed so completely to the periphery of the natural world, people were primed for science to come up with a material explanation for how things got going, thus removing the last vestiges of God’s work in the natural world.

    Empirical *scientists* may have thought God’s active work was necessary and brought that belief to their work – but empirical *science* itself was always about studying material reality apart from any divine purposes. Having opened the door to understanding material reality apart from immaterial reality, and having an awful lot of apparent success at it, empirical science changed people’s understanding of reality. Objective reality became what can be proven scientifically, meaning that *material* reality *is* the only objective reality. Christians disagree, but we argue that fact from a worldview that rests on the very same foundations that *gave* us “material reality is everything”.

    (Enlightenment natural law, where God’s purposes for man in this world can be fully known apart from God, is very different from Biblical natural law, which is enough for man to know there *is* a God and some of how He expected them to live (and that they’ve failed to live up to His expectations), but said *nothing* of God’s *gracious* work in either the temporal realm or the eternal realm. And how can we understand *anything* about God’s work in the natural world when we are unaware of His gracious First Article work?)

  3. About the Christian vs. Pantheistic world view, a seminal figure was the 6th century Christian, John Philoponus. He argued from the standpoint of creation that the universe was homogeneous. Such homogeneity was necessary for universal laws which would follow a full 1000 years later. The indebtedness of science to Christianity is casually mentioned by mathematician Alfred North Whitehead in “Science and the Modern World”. This indebtedness is also exhaustively documented by Fr. Stanley Jaki in “Cosmos and Creator”, “The Origin of Science, and the Science of its Origin”, and numerous other works.

    By the time Newton came along, it should also be noted that European Christendom had unified religion, science and philosophy. No other culture had accomplished that feat.

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