vBlog Post #004
In the third episode the Science Pastor talks about the accusation that Christianity hinders science. Using a humanist web page as the source of specific accusations about Christianity hindering science, the Science Pastor looks at the claim that the Bible teaches the earth is flat.
So today we're going to take a look at the Black Plague... also known as the Black Death or the Bubonic Plague... it killed somewhere between 75 million and 200 million
people in Europe... peaking in the mid-1300's.
We've been looking at the American Humanist web site as a convenient source of accusations against the Bible... So let's read directly from their web site to get us started:
As a result of believing in supernatural causes of disease, theologians taught that plagues could be averted or stopped by seeking supernatural assistance. And the way to obtain God’s help, they thought, was to perform religious acts. These included repenting from sin; providing gifts to churches, monasteries, and shrines; participating in religious processions; attending church services (which often only increased the spread of disease); and killing Jews and witches (since it was thought Satan used them as his agents in causing illness).
Religious leaders largely ignored the possibility of physical causes and cures of diseases.
White states that despite all the prayers, rituals, and other religious activities performed throughout the centuries, the frequency and severity of plagues did not diminish until scientific hygiene made its appearance.
The humanist's are talking about plagues in general, but references to things such as killing Jews are specific to the Black Plague. So... in order to get specific I'm going to use examples from the greatest plague Europe has experienced, the Black Plague.
By the way, in answering skeptics you need to get specific. They like to speak in generalities that can't be answered... because without specifics there is nothing to be answered.
Also I want to mention that I picked this example of a humanist accusation because there are several devices used here by the humanist's, that lead the reader to conclusions that are not true. Let's see if we can get to the truth.... and along the way learn how to avoid being tricked into believing something that is not true...
Let's start with the first sentence...
As a result of believing in supernatural causes of disease, theologians taught that plagues could be averted or stopped by seeking supernatural assistance.
This is intended to be an attack on Christianity. They are trying to show that following Christianity leads to unscientific health practices that result in death. What is this first sentence actually saying? Think about it carefully.
What defines Christianity? What some theologians teach... or the Bible? Can theologians teach things that are wrong? Yes.
We could approach this accusation by asking for background information... which theologians? What did they teach? Were there other theologians who taught something different...? But we don't need to do this.
It does not matter what some theologians taught... or even if every theologian taught the same thing. It does not matter how famous they were, or how educated they were. Or how many books they wrote... It does not matter who they were.
All that matters is: what does the Bible say? Was what they were teaching... what the theologians were teaching... was that in accordance with scripture?
We're in luck... the humanist's give us a list of the types of things being taught. They say these theologians were teaching that plagues could be averted by...
...performing religious acts. Is that true? Not according to the Bible. Neither religion, nor religious acts can prevent or cure disease. But the humanist's then give a list of the religious acts. So let's look at these specifics... first on the list is repenting...
Does repenting of sin prevent or cure the plague? No. Depending on what kind of repentance it is, repentance does nothing... you can be sorry you did something wrong... and maybe you even feel so bad that you try to make amends for the damage you caused.
And that may make you feel good... and may result in the person you harmed forgiving you... but it does nothing spiritually and it certainly will not prevent or cure disease.
What has value... is repentance – meaning turning from sin and to God. Trusting that the Son of God has paid your penalty in full for every time you've disobeyed God... this will result in spiritual healing... you will be free from the penalty for sin. That's how you get saved... repenting and trusting in the real Jesus Christ. BUT... it does nothing for physical diseases. The Bible does not promise that repenting and trusting Jesus will bring physical healing.
The next one... giving gifts to the church or monasteries or shrines: Is there any curative effect in giving gifts to the church, or to monasteries, or shrines? No... you might feel good about giving the gift and that could have some benefit. But the claim is God cures people who give these types of gifts... and that is not true. The Bible never claims people will receive any sort of physical benefit from giving gifts to the church.
And what does the Bible say about monasteries? The whole concept of a monastery is not Biblical... but that's something we'll need to get into some other time. And shrines are totally unbiblical... they are idols and are prohibited by scripture. God is not going to cure someone as a result of their false worship. That's a fact.
Can a disease be cured as a result of your participating in religious processions or attending church. No. Not at all... not unless the church is handing out antibiotics.
And what about killing Jews or witches. Any benefit there? No. There is nothing in scripture to support this... but this brings up an interesting point. Why were Jews persecuted and killed during the time of the plague?
At times entire Jewish villages were wiped out.
It's very interesting what happened... the Gentile population was being devastated by the Black Plague. At times 40, 50% of the people in a village, or even more were killed by the plague. Yet the Jews were experiencing, some say, just a 5% infection rate. What was so special about the Jews? The Jews were not dying the way the Gentiles were.
People, in their ignorance of scripture, thought the Jews were the cause of the plague. They thought the Jews were secretly poisoning Gentile wells and poisoning Gentile food supplies. They thought the Jews had come up with a way to get rid of Gentiles, while keeping themselves safe.
And the proof was obvious... Gentiles were dying in huge numbers, but not Jews. It was obvious this was a plot of the Jews to wipe out everyone else.
And so they persecuted Jews...drove the Jews out of their cities... and frequently massacred Jews.
So what was the truth? Why didn't the Jews get sick at the same rate as Gentiles?
The difference was the Bible. The difference was that the Jews were doing what the Bible said to do, and the Gentiles were doing what the science of their day said to do, and what their false religion said to do.
That's right... obeying the Bible was saving lives. Why was that? ... ... ...