Saturday, May 12, 2012

Trust and Science

About a week ago one of my younger brothers leaned against one of our book shelves and it fell, all the books on it falling as well. But in this accident one of our old copies of Handel's Messiah opened and something fell out of it. It was a program for a performance of Messiah in New York city on July 21, 1917. It is neat to look through, but something particular that caught my eye was the ad for Nestle's Food. Here is most of the ad:
"Your baby can't grow rosy and strong if he doesn't have the right food. Nurse your baby, if you can. If you can't, wean him on 

Nestle's Food
(A complete food--not a milk modifier)

Don't give him raw cow's milk. Cow's milk needs a calf's four stomachs to digest it. "Cow's milk, as ordinarily marketed, is unfit for human consumption," says the U.S. Government.

But there is still something in cow's milk that is good for your baby, if that something is modified and purified so that it is as light, as satisfying and as pure as mother's milk itself. That is what is done for you in Nestle's Food. It comes to you reduced to a powder--in an air-tight can. You only add water--boil one minute--and it's ready with just the right amount of fats, protieds, and carbohydrates that will make a heathy baby."

I post this not really to make a statement on milk. I want to show that the people trusted the government and science very much at this time. Another ad also promotes itself by saying "Best by U.S. Gov't Test." This was near the end of the progressive era which had great optimism in man's knowledge, institutions, and government. Even though World War I damaged this optimism it continued fairly strong in the popular sphere up to the 60s and the Hippies. Then the optimism was focused elsewhere (still not in a good direction), and the centralized systems took a hit. Today, some people still have a tendency to trust the government, but a growing movement is reacting against this into an almost total distrust of government and science. 

As this ad shows, the "U.S. Government" is not infallible, and the science that made powdered milk in a air-tight can is not either, but where many people are turning isn't much better. We should look to God and His Word as our infallible authority. Not that He has given us a specific diet plan, but He has given us general priorities, and He has given us methods to find out what is good. Science does have a place in a biblical view of food, but it is under God (civil government, on the other hand, has a very small role when it comes to food choices, almost none). As Christians we should seek to learn science to understand its benefits and limitations.

People have trusted the civil government on science largely because they have employed hard working, careful scientists; their main fault being a failure to recognize their limit. For Christians to replace the civil government as those with a reputation for true science we must work hard and carefully (not believing every wind of teaching that shows up on Facebook). We must guard this reputation by recognizing our limits and always working under the sovereignty of God.

-Peter Bringe

1 comment:

  1. Excellent observations, Peter. The unchanging One can always be trusted. When man is our foundation, the sand will always be shifting and coming out with a new "absolute". But when we base our life upon the solid Rock and the clearly seen principles laid out in His Word, we are on solid ground!