Silicon Valley megachurch pastor and author John Ortberg is calling on Christians to be less dismissive of scientific discoveries, suggesting that passing uninformed judgments on scientific theory is not a way to love God with “all your mind.”
Ortberg, the pastor of the 4,000-member Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California, spoke before hundreds of pastors, scientists and scholars gathered last week in Baltimore, Maryland, for a conference marking the 10th anniversary of the BioLogos conference.
The 61-year-old Ortberg is a member of the advisory council of the BioLogos Foundation, an advocacy organization that promotes Evolutionary Creationism that was founded with the goal of ushering harmony between science and biblical faith.
With the theme of the conference being “Beyond Conflict,” the church leader outlined on Wednesday four gifts that he feels Christians should bring to the broader world.
The first gift is “humility.” Ortberg’s talk comes at a time in which many Christians — particularly from a Young Earth Creation background — can be dismissive of points of a scientific consensus and discovery if they somehow conflict with their literal interpretations of the Bible.
Ortberg, who studied clinical psychology at Fuller Seminary, explained that he grew up in a Baptist church where he experienced a kind of writing-off of scientific theories.
“A woman in our church asked me, ‘Why do you need to study [Sigmund] Freud when we have the Bible?’” he recalled. “I asked her, ‘Have you ever actually read Freud? Can you name something he has actually written? Do you know the difference between projection and reaction formation or how you distinguish between the conscience and the ego ideal, or the difference between suppression and repression?’ Whatever you think of [Freud], he is one of the dominant minds of the 20th Century.”
Ortberg stressed that Freud was a brilliant neurologist, doctor and follower of psychoanalysis.
“[Y]ou’re telling me you think he can be dismissed and you can’t even tell me the title of a single thing he wrote?” Ortberg recalled asking the woman.
Far too often, Christians pass judgments on statements from the scientific community “with no good reason at all.”
“[Martin] Luther called [Nicolaus] Copernicus an upstart astrologer possibly because Copernicus dedicated his work to the pope,” Ortberg explained. “Within two generations — and Mark Noll writes about this in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind — all the reformation churches accepted a new view of the solar system.”
He warned that “moving slowly before passing theological judgments on scientific theory is one of the ways that we can love God with all of our minds.”
The second gift that Christians should bring the secular society is “curiosity.” Ortberg argued that too often, religious leaders “abuse their authority” and too many people are led to believe whatever religious authorities tell them to believe.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith