Who said it?
It has been the error of the
schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of
natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught
theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them:
for all the principles of science are of Divine origin. Man cannot make,
or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought
to look through the discovery to the Author.
Thomas Paine on "The Study of God"
Thomas Paine concerned about the content of our current science courses? Definitely!
In a speech he delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, Thomas Paine harshly criticized what the French were then teaching in their science classes-especially the philosophy they were using. Interestingly, that same science philosophy of which Thomas Paine was so critical is identical to that used in our public schools today. Paine's indictment of that philosophy is particularly significant in light of the fact that all historians today concede that Thomas Paine was one of the very least religious of our Founders. Yet, even Paine could not abide teaching science, which excluded God's work and hand in the creation of the world and of all scientific phenomena.
While Benjamin Franklin was serving in London as diplomat from the Colonies to the King, Franklin met Englishman Thomas Paine (born 1737, died 1809). Franklin arranged for him to move to America in 1774 and helped set him up in the printing business. In 1776, Paine wrote Common Sense, which helped fuel the separation of America from Great Britain. He then served as a soldier in the American Revolution. He returned to England in 1787, and then went to France in 1792 as a supporter of the French Revolution. In 1794, he published his Age of Reason, the deistic work, which brought him much criticism from his former American friends. Upon his return to America in 1802, he found no welcome and eventually died as an outcast.)
— David Barton
Baalism vs. Predestination
|So, what was Baalism? In essence
it was the ascription of power to Nature: The universe has within
itself the force of life. The world as we know it is the result of
the union of the ultimate male and female principles of the
universe, which may be called Baal and Ashteroth (or Astartes). (A
similar goddess is Asherah, mistranslated as "groves" in
the King James Version. The difference between the two goddesses
is technical, and both were expressions of the same religious
principle.) Canaanite philosophers believed, of course, that these
ultimate forces were impersonal, and that their union was not
sexual; but the common people preferred to think of the matter
mythically. The sun god copulated with the original mud of the
world, and the animals and man resulted. How does such a myth
differ from a more sophisticated expression of the same principle,
such as found in any 20th century high school science textbook?
Once, we are told, there was a vast primordial sea. Then one day,
sparked by sunlight, an organic molecule appeared, which evolved
to become our present world. A "male" principle,
sunlight, inseminates a "female" principle,
("mother earth") the primordial sea, and life is born.
Now, of course, the Israelite children did not deny the existence of the Lord altogether. He has His place as well, perhaps as the superintendent of the whole overall process. Israelite thinkers began to look at Genesis 1 with new eyes. What did this passage mean to express, they might ask, in its poetic framework?
So they doubtless thought. Baalism was evolution, the belief that Nature was the author of all life. Israel was sucked into theistic evolution first, and then later on into full Baalism. (By the way, spoiling the Egyptians means taking their fruits, not their philosophical roots.)
The details of the Baal cult are not of much importance to us now. It is the underlying philosophy of Baalism which is regnant in American education and life today, and which is taught in the science departments of almost all Christian colleges today, and not just in science departments either. Scripture teaches that God sustains life directly, not indirectly. There is no such thing as Nature. God has not given any inherent power of development to the universe as such. God created the universe and all life by immediate actions, not by mediate processes. When God withdraws His Breath (which is the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life), death follows immediately (Gen. 7:22). The idea that God wound up the universe and then let it run its course, so that there is such a thing as Nature which has an intrinsic power, is Deism, not Christianity. Theistic evolution is Deism, not Christianity. To the extent to which the processes of Nature replace the acts of God in any system, to that extent the system has become Baalistic.
We at Vine & Fig Tree are striving to purge all "natural processes" from our system.
Let's get our background cleared of some excess Baalism. Take the weather, something we think about every day. Do we ascribe the weather to "Nature" or directly to God (and His personal agents)? Jim Jordan makes some observations concerning the remarks of Deborah, the Godly judge and leader of Israel, when she said "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera (a Baalistic ruler)." (Judges 5:24):
|The concept of the stars fighting
in heaven, and of the stars controlling the weather (bringing
rain), was common in Baalism. Here Deborah asserts that the stars
are part of God's heavenly host, and that their (angelic) control
of the weather is for the good of Israel. Baalism is impotent. The
notion that those who trust in the Baals have the stars and the
weather on their side is a lie.
Stars in Scripture are associated with angels (Job 38:7; Is. 14:13; Rev. 12:4). Storms, at least special ones, are also associated with angels (Ezek. 1:10; Ps. 18:9-12; 104:2-4; Ex. 19:16 with Heb. 2:2). Because of the influence of neo-Baalism (secular humanism) in our modern culture, we tend to think that God, when He made the world, installed certain "natural laws" or processes that work automatically and impersonally. This is a Deistic, not a Christian, view of the world. What we call natural or physical law is actually a rough approximate generalization about the ordinary activity of God in governing His creation. Matter, space, and time are created by God, and are ruled directly and actively by Him. His rule is called "law."
Of course, we should understand that God almost always causes things to be done the same way. He promised to do so -- "covenanted" -- in such places as Genesis 8:22. We all can see His regularities. So when we say God does everything directly, that everything is done "new" by God, we do not mean that everything is done arbitrarily, haphazardly, or differently each time God does them. We can see order and sameness in the universe. Jordan continues:
|Science and technology are possible because God does not change the rules, so man can confidently explore the world and learn to work it. Such confidence, though, is always a form of faith, faith either in Nature (Baal) and natural law, or faith in God and in the trustworthiness of His commitment to maintain covenant regularities.|
One way to further understand the immediate activity of God in our lives is to see how this works in events we call "miracles." Miracles are not times when God acts, as opposed to all the rest of the time when God does not act but leaves Nature to act; miracles are times when God acts in a way different from the way He usually acts.
This has important implications. Jordan spells out a couple:
|[W]e tend to place too little
confidence in the eternally active, loving, Fatherly God. Our
modern philosophy of process makes us hesitant about taking
matters of our daily life to God in prayer. It is as easy
for God to keep my car running as it is for Him to let it run down.
When we see that God is active in everything, our dependence on
Him should greatly increase. While we should not look for miracles
in the sense of signs (the Bible is our sign, telling us
how to live), we should be looking all the time to the eternally
active God to bring things to pass. There is much that we should
be asking for, except that our Baalistic philosophy of process
causes us to think that it is no use asking for it. We should take
everything to God in prayer.
There are things in our lives that we have gotten used to, and we think, "Well, that's just the way things are." In reality, however, these things we have gotten used to are the way God is doing things, and God can do things differently if He wants to. There would probably be a great deal less chronic sickness among us if we would stop treating sickness as a process and start treating it as the action of God, correctable by Him. II Chronicles 16:12 condemns Asa for looking solely to the physicians rather than to God for healing. James 5:14-15 tells us the primary thing we should do in the case of sickness (without despising the ministries of Luke the physician).
Baalism is rampant in America today. . . . We as Christians must keep reminding ourselves that God is a Person, our relationship with Him is personal, He is personally interested in every atom of the universe, He governs all things by His personal actions, we are surrounded by angels, we can ask and He will answer.
Continue reading: Radical Calvinism
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