What has the histories of science, technology and medicine to do with the Christian faith?
Do you know that every doctrine and its evolution of meanings are responses to our collective knowledge of the world we live in? Scientific discoveries about the shape of the earth and its place in the universe, technological innovations that help us to date the age of things we find and medical advances that help us to live longer all shape doctrinal meanings.
Today, many views of modern theology are no longer based on an assumption of a flat earth consisting of three nations represented by the three surviving sons of Noah, or on a conviction that the universe is 10,000 years old or that mental illnesses are caused by demonic possession due to unrepentant and hidden sins.
Well, at least, it is now more difficult to hold onto to such dated doctrines in the light of these realities:
1) We happily take flights in airplanes that fly around the curve of the earth to far away destinations – including missionaries traveling to faraway places.
2) We welcome the use of nuclear plants based on radiometric technologies that powers our homes and hospitals.
3) We are grateful for advances in the medical sciences that led to pills which help us to manage depression, addictions and even dementia.
As Christians, we are invited to receive these amazing evolutions of human knowledge as gifts from God. It is from this perspective that ACT seeks to conductive historical research to better understand the development of theological doctrines.
ACT’s GREAT SPIRITUAL RESEARCH PROJECT
As a confessional Christian, I am on a long-term project to observe, understand and document the archaeology of the three religious complexes (Hinduism-Buddhism, Judaism-Christianity and Islam) as these movements migrated across the globe.
Other ancient belief systems that contribute to a deep-time understanding of human religious cognition includes voodooism in West Africa, Zoroastrianism in Iran, Afghanistan and India, aboriginal beliefs in Australia and other primitive non-theological systems of beliefs based on drug-induced altered states of consciousness.
In Judeo-Christianity, the altered states of consciousness are achieved not by pharmacological induction but rather, through the sensory perception of smell with incense, the auditory perception of music with Gregorian chants, Cantoral singing and choral music, the visual perception of space as we enter awe-inspiring cathedrals and synagogues, designed to dominate our sense of proportion, the tactile perception of being ‘slain in the spirit’ when touched by a minister or feeling the texture of the Torah scrolls, and even the sense of taste in drinking wine at the Eucharist, and eating bitter herbs with unleavened bread at the Sabbath meals.
The explosion of human migration around 200,000 BC promoted by exploration, intentional trade and incidental missions led to encounters that resulted in both great violence and tender humanity, enriching and devastating each other’s cultural traditions.
By tracing their evolution of doctrines as they coped with the challenges of scientific, technological and medical advances, we are better able to determine when, how and why specific teachings emerged to dominate each religion as if they were original beliefs of their founders. I seek to understand the evolution of beliefs to expose fiction from fact as much as history can attest and rebuild a more robust framework of belief with integrity.