What the Bible Warns Against in the Race For Discovery
We’ll be closing out this series at the end of October, which means we’ll have three more (including this one) takes on the questions surrounding things that go bump in the night. It seems as if we have barely touched on what could be an eternal subject. There is a podcast I would recommend called Haunted Cosmos which can provide some more info. Today we are going to expand on Doctor Frankenstein. Of all the universal monsters, as they are called, the fear of the reanimated corpse seems actually the most plausible to be real. Partly it is because every now and then we will hear on the news or read on the Facebook about some now science that can either grow human body parts in a lab or synthetically create the building blocks of life.
It is in this that we do get into what we have learned is the real horror, and that is man’s ability to be inhumane. The most recent examples from Gaza only illustrate the reality. For your average person who lived prior to the 19th century when the nation-state became more able to control the wild areas through transportational advances there was nothing that caused them more anxious moments than the raider. Whether it be a Norseman, a Comanche, or Mleccha there was always a concern that death was ever on the horizon. There only hope was either the local Lord who provided protection for a price, or loosely organized militias. It is a reason why the Strong Man is still deeply imbedded in our psyche.
We crave a man who will keep the hordes at bay.
If you read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein this is the motivation of the doctor whose monster bares his name. He does not necessarily want to serve his neighbors in this regard. However, he believes by using science to promote his own glory the riches and fame which will come will have a similar effect. Much of modern medical science serves in the same capacity of the Swiss doctor. Drunk with power, money, and ambition there is a hope that through technological progress medicine can solve all the problems associated with sin and the breakdown of the body.
So when it comes to what the Bible has to say about the monster there is a difference when it comes to how we talk about him in contradistinction to how we speak about Mothman or vampires. We frankly are not afraid enough of where we are headed when it comes to the horizon available for the modern barbarians to ravage through the blessings of science unburdened with ethics. Sometimes folks will downplay the importance of Holy Scripture to modern life because it can’t (in their mind) speak to the problems we face in the Twenty-First century. Yet, when we remember that the God who is sovereign over the world and who rules by His providence it is a comforting testimony that there is no thing humanity can do that is not given an answer by the word of the living LORD.
It’s fitting that we just finished looking at the Sixth Commandment in our Thursday walk through the Larger Catechism. In the WLC we hear the positive command to, “. . . all careful studies, and lawful endeavours, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any.” All areas of science, but especially medical science should be geared towards the keeping of God’s intention with the provision of the mind and knowledge. However, when the human unburdens themselves in regard to their role and purpose in the plan of redemption and seeks to serve the flesh and the creature rather than the Creator than the same ability God gave for good will be used for evil.
Consider for a moment the Harvard Ph.D M.D. who is at this moment designing clinically safe procedures for abortion. That could mean that he is a pharmacologist working diligently to improve on the latest RU-486 pill or a gynecologist with a heart towards making the procedure to remove a viable child from the womb of their mother less invasive. We are really good in our day at clothing the horror of medical advancement in the purifying words of science. Through using terms adapted from Latin it makes it sound as if there is a moral neutrality to the labors of those who are just “doing their job”. Listening to Francis Collins for example wax eloquently about his Christian faith all the while approving research on parts harvested from dead babies killed in abortions is part and parcel of the brain division many attempt in the service of white coats.
One of the threads woven through the story of Dr. Frankenstein was Mary Shelley’s own concern about the Industrial Revolution. In her day there was an insatiable appetite for knowledge and progress. While Shelley would balk at the association the book she wrote is quite conservative, not in the bastardized American political sense of that, but in the way her novel wrestles with the questions around what progress is. The Bible in no way is a brake against the forward movement of man’s understanding of himself, and his world. However, what the Scriptures do is remind us that a mind separated from the first catechism question of the Shorter Catechism will only lead to the same place that Dr. Frankenstein does when the fullness of his work comes to light. If we can learn anything from the story for our own comprehension of the scientific endeavor, it is that hubris especially in service of self-glory will lead to destruction. Pride goeth before the fall.
In closing, there is a line in the original Jurassic Park movie that perfectly summarizes any ethical consideration when it comes to science, medicine, and the work God calls all people to. It comes from Dr. Ian Malcolm after he was shown the impressive facilities John Hammond has built. He looks around and says, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The same thing was asked of the Swiss doctor who brought nothing but pain and anguish to those around him in his seeking fame through research and development. He never got to really think through those consequences. Believers in Christ should, especially those of faith who work in such industries. Our great God has given unto us much to be thankful for, including intelligence. We are to use it to promote His good works and to help our fellow man. We can learn a lot from Dr. Frankenstein and his place in our social conscience. God’s world is powerful and mighty to bring praise, let us do so in humility.
One more word:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church