«It is not good to show partiality in judgment. He who gives a right answer kisses the lips» (Proverbs 24:23, 26).
In his book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Hatchette Book Group USA, 2007), Christopher Hitchens defends an antagonistic stance between science and religion using selective and biased history. For example, he draws on historical anecdotes zealously chosen as if they were distinctive of a higher «truth»• that believers live in deceit and, therefore, are dangerous to society. To prove it, Hitchens draws on the story of Timothy Dwight (1752-1811), a Christian theologian who opposed the smallpox vaccine. For Hitchens, such a mistake is common in the backward mentality of religious people, which reveals how religious obscurantism has hampered the advancement of science. However, he ignores that Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), one of the great Christian thinkers of North America, was one of the first proponents of the smallpox vaccine and was willing to give his life in a failed treatment of this evil. The funny thing is that George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), the well-known atheist writer, also opposed vaccination against smallpox during the 1930s decade and considered it a hoax and an «indecent exercise of witchcraft»; in addition, he rejected the opinion of important scientists of the stature of Louis Pasteur or Joseph Lister, who supported the investigation (see Alister McGrath, Inventing the Universe: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God (UK: Hodder and Stoughton, 2015).
In a society of vertiginous advances in the world of knowledge, it is very tempting to fall into scientific triumphalism and reject elements such as faith and Christian hope. But even worse is using science to channel personal prejudices and ideological presuppositions. That’s not a wise way to get to the truth. Science and religion don’t have to be in conflict. Each has its place in the human experience. Both have the same origin: the heavenly Father.
A true education does not lead to arrogance or the triumphalism of knowledge. Nor does it favor intellectual imperialism or any other form of academic dogmatism. In my scarce experience, I have known great scholars in various fields of knowledge, who have a common trait: simplicity. On the other hand, I have also observed others whose arrogance and loftiness reflect how far they are from a genuine education.
True education makes us aware of how vulnerable we are and how little we know; it reminds us of our deep need for the heavenly Father and opens up extraordinary ways to have an encounter with Him.
Today, ask God to remove the pride from your heart.