The Elephant in the Room
You know the expression "the elephant in the room." It refers to something that is obvious but the people in a room aren't talking about. On this Festival of St. Luke, Evangelist who is also Dr. Luke, Scientist, we will talk about the elephant. Most think it's science, but with G. K. Chesterton I say, "I am not arguing with the scientist who explains the elephant, but only with the sophist who explains it away" (Everlasting Man, 275).
The elephant in the room is not science though that's what atheism wants you to believe. Christianity ignores the discoveries of science that disprove it. In a way this is funny. No scientist I know of has ever declared that Jesus wasn't born of the Virgin Mary, didn't die on the cross, or wasn't raised from the dead. "Christian" scholars have denied all three. Yet the perception is that science owns the elephant in the room.
I think that's because in the State science rules. Francis Bacon predicted this in 1627. He said there would come a time when those doing research would be regarded as the most important people in the state and will be supported by the government in gathering all that can be known about the universe (Western Experience, 516). The impression is that scientists know more then they do. A case in point is made by an atheist. He refers to the official Hubble website which says that the actual exposures are black and white and color is added. The site admits, "'Creating color images out of original black-and-white exposures is equal parts art and science'" (Science Delusion, 23).
Yet both atheism and pop Christianity think science has fed all their data into a computer and it spit out the answer, there is no God. No, that's the conclusion of another religion, communism. They produced a poster in 1962 showing a soviet cosmonaut in space with the Russian caption "There is no God." This was supposed to be based on the first man in space saying in 1961, "I don't see any God up here." "However, no such words appear in the verbatim record of his conversations with Earth-based stations during the spaceflight" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Gagarin).
All any one has ever proven to me is what I have always known. God doesn't do what I want when I want it. That's the only proof I have that He doesn't exist. Him not healing, protecting, or delivering whom I want when I want it is "proof" that He doesn't exist. Him not proving His existence, love, or power the way I want is proof that He isn't real. Just let one of your kids do that to you. Just let him imply that because you don't do what he wants how he wants it you're no parent, you don't love him, you're weak. See if you accept that as proof you're not real.
But this isn't the elephant in the room of pop Christianity and atheistic scientists. Their elephant is all things beyond the material. There is a widespread assumption "that the only valid, authentic, reality is the one which natural science presents to us" (Man and Woman, 7). But even if science knew every single thing about the physical universe the questions "Why is there a universe? Has it any meaning?" would remain (Mere Christianity, 32).
Science has no explanation for human consciousness. Atheistic science delights in making man seem insignificant in the universe forgetting two things. It's not nature that makes us feel this way but nature spiritualized by human imagination (Miracles, 84). That's how C. S. Lewis, Christian put it. This is how Curtis White, atheist does: "There may be nothing special about our place in the cosmos, but there is something very special about our ability to say so" (Science Delusion, 81),
Atheistic science and unbelief in general wants to ignore the huge fact that humans are self-aware. They think they're taking the high scientific ground when they say that if something can't be accounted for physically then we should stop talking about it. The only real things are things that can be proven by the scientific method. If that is true, then we should stop talking about freedom because we can't account for the desire to be free with scientific proofs (83) anymore than we can account for faith, hope, or love.
Besides human consciousness, the question that tripped atheistic science up most was why there is something rather than nothing. Lawrence Krauss a theoretical physicist believes he has destroyed this last remaining trump card of theologians. He has a YouTube talk and now a book titled A Universe from Nothing." Fellow atheist, Curtis White, points out that the problem with Krauss' view is that his nothing is really something. The empty spaces between galaxies that Krauss points to as the nothing from which all this something has come are full of the vast majority of matter and therefore energy in the universe (46-49). So where did this something come from?
But human consciousness and something rather than nothing isn't the biggest elephant in the room with atheism, agnosticism, or unbelief. The thing they don't want to talk about, and frankly neither do I, is the dread that we're accountable to Someone according to a Standard beyond us. There is a Judgment Day and all that I am, have done, believe, think, feel, or haven't done, believed, thought or feel will be weighed in the balance. And this dread can't be shaken by drink, by drugs, by love, by sex, by success, by intellect. It can only be ignored. It can only be hit like a whack-a-mole every time it pops its head up. But it's not just that the Judge is coming but the certainty that I fail His standard and all the science and all the unbelief in the world can't help.
Now we're to Dr. Luke, Scientist. Of all the Gospel writers, this scientist has left us the most detailed account of where Jesus was in the physical world and of miracles that aren't possible according to the laws of science. Luke is the one who tells us Jesus was born in the days of Caesar Augustus and He began His ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea and Herod was Tetrarch of Galilee. Dr. Luke cites physical dates, people, and places that can be verified by sources outside the Bible. He does this while giving us the most detailed accounts of a virgin conceiving, of Jesus being raised from the dead, and of Him bodily ascending into heaven.
No science as we know it can prove how a virgin can conceive, that a 3-day dead body can rise, that a human body can defy the laws of gravity and rise from the earth to disappear in a cloud. Yet Dr. Luke unashamedly reports these because they are about the One Man who ever met the standard all men will be judged by. Indeed, all these miracles Dr. Luke reports involve the One who will one day return to judge all men.
What modern people don't realize is that what I have said about a coming judgment and a standard all men and their actions would be judged by was not foreign to ancient people. Only the fool had no religion, no faith, or no gods to deal with this reality that was just as real to them as the tangible things they could touch. You had intellectuals who would poke fun at the gods but they didn't deny there was a realm beyond this. There was something more than this and that something more was divided. There was a good place and a bad place.
Only Dr. Luke records Jesus telling the story of Rich Man and Lazarus where the Rich Man is in torment in hell begging for just a drop of water. Only Luke tells you that Jesus promised a dying thief, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise." So this scientist knew of heaven and he knew of hell, and more importantly in Jesus, Luke knew the Man who was good and yet went to the bad place. Jesus who would return from heaven to judge the quick and dead went to hell on the cross so that no one else would have to.
Here's the answer to the dread that no honest man can deny. Everyone has moments, no matter how hard they try not to, when the eternal slips into the temporal, when their world that ends collides with the world without end, when their self-judgment that says they have a right to pass go and collect 200 dollars encounters the unwanted thought, the unbidden doubt, the much fled from fear, that they don't. The answer is turn and face the music and realize you can't dance to the tune, but Jesus did for you.
Jesus relieved Dr. Luke's dread of the eternal, of the world without end, of the coming judgment, and Luke records the story. Being Scripture, Luke's Gospel is God-breathed like the rest, but the Spirit exhaled from different writers, and this time He did it through a scientist. Luke has the precision of a scientist and details of physical illness that only a medical doctor would notice. And he says he writes, "So that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." This is one scientist who is not afraid of being tested.
But Luke records more than the facts of who Jesus is: True God begotten of the Father from eternity and True Man born of the Virgin Mary. He focuses on what Jesus does for us. He focuses on the perfect Jesus who would easily pass judgment being judged to be guilty of all crimes, sins, and failings and being given to drink by His heavenly Father the cup filled with God's wrath against the world's sins. And only Luke tells us that from the cross Jesus while drinking wrath spoke forgiveness: "Father forgive them."
Only Dr. Luke records that Jesus specifically sent into all nations the two things all men need most: repentance and forgiveness. There's a way out from under the looming, dunning judgment; it is not too late to confess your guilt whatever it is and however heavy it may be. But don't stop there. Jesus didn't just send repentance. He sent forgiveness, full and free that passes go and pays way more than 200 dollars.
The picture often painted is of Christians huddled on an ever narrowing strip of beach while the incoming tide of Science' mounts higher (Weight of Glory, 88). No we're all on the beach, and the tide isn't science; it's elephants. Science gives perfect answers to trivial questions but is silent when it comes to the elephants of purpose, destiny, morality, meaning (Hoover, "Starving the Spirit", Firm Foundation, 1-27-81, 6). Christianity meets these elephants head-on in the name of the Elephant Tamer, Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
St. Luke, Evangelist (20151018); Luke 1: 1-4; 24: 44-47