Friday, June 16, 2006

On Church, State and Science

This morning's back page headline read: "Physicist says pope tried to influence his research."

It seems that Pope John Paul II asked British scientist Stephen Hawking not to study the start of time. Hawking said the pope told him, "It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not inquire into the beginning itself because that was the moment of creation and the work of God."

Happily, this attempt to restrict the brilliant Hawking's inquiry into the age-old questions.... Why are we here? Where did we come from?.... didn't stop his groundbreaking research in theoretical physics, although he joked "I didn't fancy the thought of being handed over to the Inquisition like Galileo."

Attempts by church leaders to stifle inquiry or influence governments is not news. The willingness to examine, question and resist this interference is.

That is why the enlightened editorial by E. J. Dionne, Jr. in the Washington Post, "A Shift Among the Evangelicals'" is encouraging.

As he points out, the upset victory of the Rev. Frank Page, who was recently elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is "very significant, both to the nation's religious life and to politics." Page defeated candidates supported by staunch Baptist conservatives who have dominated the Convention since the mid-1980s.

It may mean, insofar as evangelical politics are concerned, that some "are tired of just fighting liberals."

So, is it possible the heated, divisive political sermonizing has finally gone too far, reached it's unsustainable radicalism and may now return to more positive messages?... dare I say it, return to the spiritual.

Is it too much to hope that the Hawkings and Southern Bapists of the world presage the coming reversal of church interference in and influence over matters of State and science?

I leave you with a refreshing quote from the newly elected Rev. Page....... "I believe in the word of God, I'm just not mad about it."


Long Gone said...

Let us hope. I so much prefer healing the sick and feeding the hungry as Jesus Christ did. Christ is not recorded as saying "fight the liberals." Christ probably would have said "heal the environment" if it were necessary in his day. I am so glad to see the evangelicals focus on something construcive and well, Christian.
It isn't their evangelizing we liberals object to. It is their mean spirited and negative attacks epitomized by Pat Roberson and Jerry Falwell.

slskenyon said...

One can believe without taking that belief too far. One of the things that really deep faith should teach people is that others can have and do have deep faith as well, but perhaps not in the same things. The common thread is the deep faith to begin with, not what it is about. Too often we focus on differences rather than similarities.

FreeThinker said...

Does anyone really listen to the Pope anymore? It's 2006, ferchristsakes!