Last night I watched Horizon on BBC2. The programme “The Secret You” was on the subject of consciousness and much of it I found fascinating. The presenter Marcus Du Sautoy, began with a simple but brilliant test of self-awareness using a mirror and small children. The child is shown a large mirror and the child carries out all the usual practices one would expect, looking behind, making faces and going face to face with their own reflection. Then without the child noticing, usually when the nose is being wiped, the parent places a sticky red dot on the child’s cheek. At some point in the child’s development, apparently somewhere between 18 and 24 months, the child becomes self-aware enough to see the dot on the reflected image and place their hand on their own face to remove it. We were told that Chimps and Orang-utans are also able to do this though there must be a possibility that some animals aren’t bothered by red dots.
My problem with Horizon and the BBC was illustrated about halfway through when Marcus Du Sautoy began talking about the soul. He stated that as an atheist he knew that such dualism (body and soul) couldn’t be a reality and went on to discuss solutions to the sense of ‘other’, that we are more than just our bodies. For the remainder of the programme, atheism was taken as a proven fact with no recourse to the possibility that Professor Du Sautoy may not know everything and may even be wrong.
From a Christian point of view, I long for the day when an established Christian representative is given the opportunity to speak on the main stream media. In the meantime we are subjected to a barrage of atheism and minority religions. I’m not saying that these views should not be represented, but they are not the only views.
In the face of such opposition we could retreat into our own enclaves and pretend that the nasty outside world isn’t a reality or we could take a stand and seek to advance the gospel. I would suggest two fronts on which to move forward;
Firstly, contend for the faith (Jude 3). The time has come for believers in the field of science to step forward and articulate the Christian stance. I know that those who have sought to debate on this subject have found it difficult to find a platform. Alister McGrath’s discussion with Richard Dawkins for the programme “The Root of all Evil” was cut and not shown (an unedited version is available online here http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6474278760369344626&hl=en-GB# though there is not a clear winner). Those of us who are not a McGrath or a Lennox should seriously pray for those in the front line of the debate.
Secondly, we need the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:4). The challenges that we face today are identical to the one that Paul faced in first century Greece. He was confronted with an educated elite that mocked the idea of the resurrection and were convinced of their own wisdom. That the early church prospered and grew in such a context is evidence of the importance of the Holy Spirit (and cross centred preaching) in the life of the church. Though there must always be a reasoned and coherent case for the gospel, our prayer must be that our faith will stand on God’s power and not on man’s wisdom. The Lord Jesus stated that he would build his church and that fact should encourage and spur us on.
Tonight in our home group, we looked again the passage from last Sunday night, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. Paul asks the church to pray that the message will spread rapidly and be honoured, surely it would be a good prayer for us to pray.
Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.