A Theology of Ignorance: Christian opposition of science during a pandemic is a rebuke of God’s divinity
Every day I watch Christians violently attacking God.
They fill churches without distancing and without masks. They defy restrictions designed to stop the spread of this virus. They malign the scientific experts trying to protect them. They condemn school officials for not meeting in-person. They shrug their shoulders at the numbers of dead people. They reopen their churches despite being implored not to.
And they do it all in the name of a God who they say they trust more than Science, but that is not actually entirely true. Yes, Jesus saves — but Science has been saving them their entire lives, too.
Science is the reason we use laser therapy and not hacksaws on damaged limbs. It’s the reason we take blood pressure meds instead of dying at 35. It’s the reason we get anesthesia instead of having to bite into leather straps. It’s the reason we don’t die by the tens of thousands from Polio. It’s the reason we often discover Cancer years before it ravages our bodies. It’s the reason we can swallow a camera to see the lining of our stomachs. It’s the reason we can be operated on without a hand touching the scalpel.
It’s the reason we’re all waiting on a vaccine that will free us from being prisoners of a pandemic.
Christian, if you’ve ever had anyone you love survive a terrible accident or life-threatening illness or congenital birth defect, it wasn’t God alone who prolonged or saved their lives: it was a small army of medical students, lab techs, nurses, doctors, surgeons, therapists, and researchers, whose countless hours of expertise and time and study and learning made it possible.
You didn’t just offer up a heavenly Hail Mary petition to the Almighty and leave it at that; you went online and you sought out the most qualified people and the best facilities and the most forward thinking teams, and you got tests and scheduled procedures and took medications—and you prayed to the spirit for deliverance, while you leaned heavily on flesh and blood to assist mightily in the miracle.
You could have prayed to God all you wanted, but the heart valve wasn’t going to repair itself and the tumor wasn’t going to dissolve, and the infection wasn’t going to subside with prayer alone, but with lasers and chemo and antibiotics and radiation and skilled hands.
The point is, Christian: if God is—then Science is the mathematics of that God. To ignore Science is to deny God’s provision. It is to discard God’s guidance. It is a brazen act of spiritual rebellion.
There are Christian pastors and politicians and educators who want make Science and Religion adversarial because they can profit from this war, but that only reveals how little they regard God and how little they understand. The spiritual and physical are not separate, they are collaborative. We are souls inhabiting bodies.
We exist in a world of broken bones and weakened blood vessels and insidious diseases and intricately constructed systems that we know so much more about today than we did even a few years ago. That knowledge didn’t get dropped from the sky and it isn’t in the Bible: it traveled through the cumulative efforts of millions upon millions of flawed, finite human beings who worked and labored for centuries in the name of Science, some of them people of faith and some of them irreligious.
Right now, I see faith communities filled with people making a public stand of showy religion and loudly claiming to trust God to keep them safe from this virus. I also see these same people running frantically to the emergency room, not to the church — when their breathing becomes labored and they feel life being slowly squeezed out of them. They don’t see that as an incongruous choice in that moment, because they want to live—and they know that a ventilator and a trained medical team are the answered prayer then.
Wearing a mask and social distancing in a pandemic is a profoundly spiritual act; one that respects the gift of the knowledge of how viruses travel, that gives gratitude for their ready availability, that acknowledges that God works through humanity, that embodies loving our neighbor as ourselves because we believe the God who made everything also resides in them.
Christian, it’s time for you to stop fighting Science because it is not the enemy here—your willful arrogance is. God isn’t allowing hundreds of thousands of people to die in America, human beings here who claim faith but refuse to use what we’ve been given, are.
If God made and ordains everything, then God gave you the vast and infinite resources of doctors and medicine and technology and progress, and the ability to think critically.
You should stop wasting them. It isn’t faith. It isn’t pro-life. It’s a sin.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com