The Sacred, the Secular, and the Sciences

In a knowledge of God all true knowledge and real development have their source. . . . Whatever line of investigation we pursue, with a sincere purpose to arrive at truth, we are brought in touch with the unseen, mighty Intelligence that is working in and through all.” (Ellen G. White, Education, 14)

A discussion of education often involves the broad fields of study of “the arts,” “the sciences,” and how we, as Christians ought to deal with particular topics relating to them and their proper place in the Kingdom of God. It should be noted that “education” is of course not confined to college campuses, school classrooms, or, more recently, Zoom calls, with teachers mustering students from living rooms and basements across the globe. However, for simplicity’s sake, I have focused here on the formal education system in hopes that what is applicable here (in the “organ” of the education system, as T. S. Elliot refers to it) is relevant to the broader “organism” of human thought and education.

The Arts

While the question of the origin of the universe probably reigns in the science domain as the most agonized-over topic of education in the longstanding Christian Education v. Public Education debate, the question of what to do and not do with “secular” media (literature, music, art, etc.) holds this status in the arts and humanities.

The idea that there is a permanent fissure between the “sacred and the secular” is old and is taken for granted in the current age, but there are a number of ways in which to approach this perceived dichotomy. In his concise book An Invitation to Academic Studies, Jay D. Green attributes perhaps the most famous early expression of this sentiment as relates to education to Tertullian: “What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the [Platonic] Academy, the Christian with the heretic? . . . After Jesus we have no need of speculation, after the Gospel no need of research.”

Dr. Green outlines the three traditional Christian methods of approaching this dynamic between “Jerusalem and Athens” (Loma Linda and LA or Berrien Springs and Boston, if you will). Here, I outline the three views and note the common Adventist position with regard to each:

1. Withdrawal

The proper response to secular media/education is to avoid it; this position is characterized by the idea that anything of non-Christian (or possibly non-Adventist) origin is inherently antagonistic to the Christian mind and should be avoided. Practically, this results in a lifestyle that allows one to remain uncorrupted by the corrosive secular thought and education by ending formal education early (or at least not attending college) for this purpose and finding employment on a small farm, family business, or self-supporting ministry. While there are some in Adventism who hold to this approach, mainstream Adventism has acknowledged that some interaction with non-Christian media is, for the most part, inevitable.

2. Defensive engagement

This is to go in with sword drawn, attempting to “fix” the problems with media that is not of Christian origin. This view, too, is based off the belief that non-Christian education is by nature hostile to “the truth.” Students will often read a little Shakespeare, perhaps Animal Farm, and some poetry by Emily Dickinson, but the overall posture of this view focuses on the contrasts between what one reads and what one believes. In my current and past experience, Adventist education falls most uniformly in this category; some secular literature is engaged, but often hesitantly and with a focus on where the work diverges from Adventist doctrine/outlook/mindset.

3. View of a dualism

Jerusalem and Athens indeed exist in distinct spheres. But, unlike in the previous two strategies mentioned, they are not in conflict with each other so much as they are carrying out mutually exclusive kinds of cultural work. Generally, Adventism gravitates away from this view and toward the other two views that preserve the traditional view of a necessary interaction between the sacred and secular.

A “fourth way” is needed, relevant to Adventist education, one that acknowledges the divide between the sacred and the secular, but is not blinded (as by a constant posture of being in defense) to the beauty and usefulness of many works that are indisputably “secular.” “What if we reimagined our work within them not as a reconnaissance mission, driving us deep into enemy territory, but as an act of holy worship done humbly before the face of God? Not as something we must do, holding our noses for the good of the kingdom, but as something we gratefully embrace, because through it God will extend to us some of his wondrous gifts?”[1] To rephrase Kennedy’s immortal maxim, it is necessary that we not only ask (as in the defensive engagement view) what we and our faith can do for our particular disciplines, but what those disciplines can do for us and our faith.

When we think of creation, we’re probably most apt to picture snow-covered mountains, flowering dogwood trees, a herd of buffalo, or a majestic sunset. We are less likely to include, within our vision of creation, human endeavors like music theory, mechanical engineering, experimental psychology, or graphic design . . . But the modern academic disciplines are, in fact, part of God’s good order. All are examples of humans cultivating nature’s raw materials and the human imagination as collective responses to God’s general command to care for the earth. As part of creation, these fields of academic inquiry are precious and astonishing gifts from God.[2]

Here, however, I find it necessary to pause for contemplation on this idea of a dichotomy between the “sacred and secular.” I have been hard-pressed to come up with a satisfactory definition of “secular,” but the most pragmatic definition, for the purposes of the discussion above, may be “not of Christian origin” (expanded to “not of religious origin” elsewhere), but even this exposes a gaping morass of undefined terms and historical eras and disputes over who is/isn’t considered Christian (the definitional minefield continues). There is an ongoing dialogue of thought and writing on this concept that is worth raising for internal discussion: the idea that the divide between sacred and secular is a human “self-imposed dichotomy,” and is a “divide [that] disrupts our perception of God’s creation and reorders it by making categorical distinctions between things, people, and places that are holy and those that are not.” To continue to quote from an insightful article on the topic by theologian and professor Ryan Stander:

Presbyterian theologian, Douglas Ottati, draws upon the Psalmist and St. Paul’s claims, “The earth is the Lord’s and fullness thereof” to articulate God’s stance toward creation. He argues that nothing is truly godless or profane because “God always stands in relation to all.” In this, all things, including the arts, exist as part of God’s intricate and encompassing web of divine power, presence, and grace. Nothing stands wholly apart from God’s presence regardless of how we may try to define who and what is part of God’s redemptive plan. . . . Codifying God by demarcating spheres of presence and absence closes us off from surprise movements of God’s Spirit in the world around us. It closes our eyes and ears from seeing Christ at play in 10,000 different places.[3]

As a current student at an Adventist university, I have often been perplexed by the wilting numbers of fellow students studying arts and humanities. The current, decades-long trend towards the sciences is of course not unique to Adventists, but I am curious as to whether there may be somewhat of a unique motivation behind our collective withdrawal or hesitation for investing in the humanities. While this is a topic in need of further analysis elsewhere, and I defer to those who have watched our education system evolve over a longer period of time, I would think that the root of this is not primarily economic, as may be more predominant of a motivation for the general public. It seems that, as in academies, university education is philosophically inclined toward disciplines and subjects that offer training for more “practical” service and relief such as medicine, nursing, etc. While the virtue of these methods of serving goes without saying (I myself am pursuing a career in medicine), I am more than tempted to think we are missing something fundamental by our neglect of the study of the human condition. Because Christ was human, to study our own nature is, in part, to study His, and vice versa. As Ellen White notes, “The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study. Christ was a real man; He gave proof of His humility in becoming a man.” (Ellen G White, Selected Messages, Book 1, Chapter 33)

The Sciences

The popular maxim “all truth is God’s truth” may be, in my mind, the most concise way to summarize the proper Christian response to education in general, most obviously in the sciences. The debate over what to do with scientific findings that appear to deviate from biblical accounts is as old as those findings themselves, but a level-headed and useful approach emerges in the writings of Galileo, who was himself a loyal church member before being arrested and charged with heresy for resurrecting and popularizing Copernicus’ heliocentric theory. He cites Augustine in a 1636 letter in defense of the orthodoxy of his methods:

Astronomers seem to declare what is contrary to Scripture, for they hold the heavens to be spherical, while scripture calls it “stretched out like a curtain.” St. Augustine opines that we are not to be concerned lest the Bible contradict astronomers; we are to believe its authority if what they say is false and is founded only on the conjectures of frail humanity. But if what they say is proved by unquestionable arguments, this holy Father does not say that the astronomers are to be ordered to dissolve their proofs and declare their own conclusions to be false. Rather, he says it must be demonstrated that what is meant in the Bible by “curtain” is not contrary to their proofs.

He concludes that once a scientific finding has been properly tried and examined and not found wanting, the next work to be done involves reconciling biblical interpretation with what has been demonstrated to be scientifically accurate.[4]

No discussion of education, particularly education in science, is complete without an examination of questions that can’t be answered, things that can’t be known, and the Book of Job: “What is the way to the place where light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?” (Job 38:24, ESV)

After the final chapter of lament from Job (in which he identifies himself as “a companion of ostriches” 30:29) and a “post-hoc-ly” debated interlude by young Elihu, the Lord answered Job—with seventy-three verses of profoundly unanswerable questions. (“Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew?” Job 38:28)

In his 1929 essay, “The Book of Job,” British essayist G. K. Chesterton reflects on the speech of God that explicitly answers virtually none of the questions raised in reams of dialogue between Job and his companions:

This, I say, is the first fact touching the speech; the fine inspiration by which God comes in at the end, not to answer riddles, but to propound them. The other great fact which, taken together with this one, makes the whole work religious instead of merely philosophical, is that other great surprise which makes Job suddenly satisfied with the mere presentation of something impenetrable. Verbally speaking the enigmas of Jehovah seem darker and more desolate than the enigmas of Job; yet Job was comfortless before the speech of Jehovah and is comforted after it. He has been told nothing, but he feels the terrible and tingling atmosphere of something which is too good to be told. The refusal of God to explain His design is itself a burning hint of His design. The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.[5]

If education is to follow a model that is biblical and historically tried and proven, it must deal not merely with the answering of questions and the feeding of information, but with the raising of questions, not all of which may be immediately answerable.

It is worthwhile to consider both the “problems” of what to do with new scientific findings and things we just generally know very little about. Likewise, a contemplation on the right treatment of the “sacred and the secular” in the arts is needed if we are to be most effective and spiritually benefitted from the vast array of unexpected creativity and creation we have been given to learn from. These considerations are practical in the realm of how we structure our educational system. But more than that, they are relevant to the greater portrait of God-designed human nature and to our own individual growth in the knowledge and the likeness of our God.

To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized—this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life. (Ellen G. White, Education, 15-16)

Christina Cannon is an undergraduate student at Southern Adventist University. 

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

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[1] Jay D. Green, An Invitation to Academic Studies (P & R Publishing, 2014), 8-23.

[3] Ryan Stander, “The Relationship Between Faith and Art” in In All Things (May 23, 2017), inallthings.org/the-relationship-between-faith-and-art/.

[4] Galileo Galilei, “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina,” in A History of Science in Society, edited by Andrew Ede and Lesley B. Cormack (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011) 139-144.

[5] G. K. Chesterton, “The Book of Job” in In Defense of Sanity, selected by Dale Ahlquist, Joseph Pearce, and Aidan Mackey (Ignatius Press, 2011).

 

 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10902
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An excellent article. Never thought that a student could write such authoritative statements. Ms Cannon, just go on!

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Should there even be a divide between the sacred and the secular. The Christian journey begins when consciously we begin the walk with first steps. From that point on, everything gets seen through the Christian lens, the secular as well as the sacred. In fact, all things become sacred. Our secular activity can’t be compartmentalized, walled off, from the sacred.

Unfortunately, we tend to make the secular our point of reference to the point that we conduct our life of faith as if it were secular - “meeting” with God within a scheduled activity; and think of God as the mega boss of our lives. What if we were to see God as the driving force IN which we live and move and have our being".

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Theologically/Metaphyisically, there is no difference, as Sirje points out. But epistemologically, science and other disciplines bracket “faith” out of their investigations and use either empirical methods or those germane to their own discipline. It’s that leap from using the “scientific method” which can only assume a “material” universe in its investigations, to a “scientism” or “materialism” which asserts something metaphysical that is a bridge too far.

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As is often stated - science tells us what happened; and the Bible tells why it happened. It is we who place the information into categories, ie: sacred/secular. Information is just that, information - light from the sun takes 8 minutes to reach earth. Science has discovered that, whether the scientist is a Christian (or whatever). Not until the Christian places that information into the Biblical context, does the information become sacred. That doesn’t change any of the science. I can’t think of any scientific information that would be any different for a Christian. If scientist and the theologian stay true to their given functions there shouldn’t be a problem. The Christian might gives thanks for the light and the warmth, but he doesn’t have to include that in his lab report.

The Gaps between the Facts.

The ‘scientific method’ has produced many facts, regarding things and processes that presently exist. Using it, these things & processes can be tested in many ways, subjecting them to varied conditions, that helps to reveal the ‘factuality’ of their nature.

Related to the day-to-day function of surviving, science has been very successful at advancing our ability to ‘know’ usable information. From that we are better able to address shelter, food, medicine, transportation, etc. Science has helped us to better withstand the elements of life that might otherwise kill us.

However, there are many aspects of life and knowledge where the ‘scientific method’ is ineffective, and therefore, an invalid effort. The scientific method requires repeatability. Therefore, past or fleeting events (or circumstances) cannot be tested by the scientific method for there is no opportunity to subject the subject to the necessary testing of varied conditions to produce a verifiable ‘fact’. That ‘something’ happened or existed may be ‘true’, but its nature cannot be scientifically established.

Language itself is often considered to be capable of ‘lassoing’ these past or fleeting subjects so that they may be examined scientifically. But, most often, after something is supposedly captured by this language lasso, it’s not the subject that is thereafter examined, but rather the lasso that supposedly has it bound. The subject may not even be within the confines of the lasso, because its nature, not yet known, may not be subject to capture by language.

Of those subjects that are most important to establishing meaning in life, and not simply survival, there are many gaps that exist between the facts which science is able to ‘verify’. I perceive that the gaps are huge and the scientific ‘facts’ are relatively few.

Yet science has been unsatisfied to confine itself to the survival questions. In its quest to manage all of life, it has presumed to tackle the questions of these past or fleeting subjects, despite the inability to apply the ‘scientific method’ to them. Instead, it has opted to use the subjective methods of art, but distorted with the idea that scientific art is more reliable, unbiased or ‘factual’.

Art is commentary - an evaluation of perceived life or, sometimes, the creation of alternative life perceptions. For most people, art is recognized as a subjective perspective.

But when utilized by science, art (commentary) is expected to be embraced with the same certitude that scientifically repeatable ‘verified facts’ are accepted.

And this is where the breakdown of trust occurs between the concept of faith and the pronouncements of science. Science is disingenuous when it wraps itself in ‘factual garb’ to promote its scientific faith statements about those subjects to which it can never apply the ‘scientific method’ for verification. It is this lack of honesty on the part of science that creates the pushback from the religious faith community.

Admittedly, there are those of some faith communities, who also claim ‘fact’ for their beliefs, rather than promoting their perceptions as their commentary on life (being a witness). These promoters are similarly disingenuous, claiming more for themselves than reality affords.

The story of Job is one of humility and faith, despite being in a quandry about many life experiences. His ‘friends’ were certain of their perspectives but wrong. Job was certain of his faith in God, but unable to satisfy his ‘friends’ that God was trustworthy.

In the end, God condemned the lack of faith (in God) in Job’s ‘friends’ and the certitude they had in the prevailing ideas about Him. But He also made it clear to Job that He IS beyond our ability to fully comprehend. Humility in the face of this overwhelming uncertainty is appropriate.

On the other hand, God has revealed enough about Himself, in the records of the Bible (especially the Gospels) and our own experience of Him, that our Trust In Him should not falter. Two Thousand years ago, a child was born that provides all the evidence necessary to believe that God is trustworthy.

But, despite all humankind being the children of God, not all think and act as though He is a loving Father.

The Sacred, the Secular and the Sciences: Those who speak lovingly about God in all contexts, those who denigrate or deny God in all contexts and those who speak as if they are God in all contexts.

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this is exactly as i see it, particularly when it comes to massive, one-time events in the past, like fiat creation and noah’s flood…it would be more useful if all could agree on which domains science simply isn’t equipped to function meaningfully in…

but perhaps saddest of all is when theologians, or wannabe theologians, use methods related to the scientific method to arrive at conclusions that diametrically oppose plain statements stemming prophetic utterances derived from supernatural vision…nothing can be more presumptuous and wrong-headed…it’s as if there isn’t a supernatural god who can instruct us through a method of his own choosing what we cannot find out for ourselves…

Job was certain about his faith in God, but equally muddled as his friends about how God worked in the world. As the book progresses, Job grows increasingly bitter, calling out to confront God in court, saying that he himself has done nothing wrong. In opposition to his friends’ accusations, Job is claiming that God is the one who is in the wrong.

They all, Job included, operate and see the world through a theology of retribution…if one does good, God blesses them, if one does evil, God brings punishment. Job says he did nothing to warrant his suffering, but can’t let go of this worldview. Thus, the wrong actor in this situation is God. God is not playing by the rules!

This is the touchstone of Job’s encounter with God. God confronts him, and says, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” This is indeed what Job has done. He has accused God of injustice, and has actually not tried to convince his friends of God’s trustworthiness or justice. He, in fact, has done the opposite. The problem is with God, not with himself! The problem that God confronts him with is that Job does not have the sufficient wisdom, knowledge, or evidence to press such charges. Hence the riddles with which God confronts Job.

The result is that Job is humbled, shuts his mouth, so to speak, and repents, acknowledging that the issue is not about God’s justice, as much as it is about God’s wisdom and the gulf between God’s and Job’s own. The issue is that his and his friends’ theology, and picture of God and his justice, is far too small and incomplete. In a world that often doesn’t run by justice, the appropriate response that the book encourages when we suffer, and when we witness suffering and injustice, is to trust in God and his wisdom over our own.

God commends Job and condemns the actions of his friends saying that they did not speak right to God as Job did. (The Hebrew translates best as to not about.) IOW, while Job was as far off as his friends throughout the book, he ends up acknowledging where he is wrong about God and changes his mind about the way God works. There is no record that his friends ever did.

I think that this is a lesson for us, even in the realm of our sacred/secular perceptions, and faith/science debates. We, with the bible in our hands, often do the same as Job and his friends. We compartmentalize God and the way we think he should work in the world, and close ourselves off to his vastness and freedom to work as he chooses, and through the means he chooses. This can include science and the arts, even if those arts are not church hymnody, and the science is giving us a different picture than a literalist reading of Genesis 1 and 2. We, too, end up darkening his counsel without knowledge!

Thanks…

Frank

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Religion operates from belief; science depends on provable facts. Just like there is no sacred vs. secular math; there is no sacred/secular science. Those ancient, one time events recorded in the Bible come under belief - belief of those who wrote, as well as those who read. They are not provable.

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actually, so-called origins science depends on unprovable assumptions…

Agreed. There are lot assumptions on both sides of the discussion. For science it’s an hypothesis, until it can be replicated. A religious statement, is a statement of faith - also unprovable.

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And thus the need for much more humility on all sides of most debatable issues.

I was especially in agreement with Christina’s commentary regarding the benefit of more questions being propounded, rather than answers.

One of the most important things I learned at college was that exploration of commentary that did not agree with my own thinking was a great source of meaningful questions. Unfortunately, this lesson was not part of the curriculum, but I learned it from a dedicated professor of life lessons who took an interest in my education.

Welcoming meaningful questions into our minds, regardless of their source, provides us an opportunity to explore our worldview. It tests our views for efficacy in dealing with aspects of life we may have never before contemplated. It can broaden our thinking even when we cannot come to a satisfactory answer.

And questions, rightly asked of our selves, will most often be the source of our growth as human beings. They can engender sympathetic identification and compassion for those in a totally different frame of mind or circumstance from our own. The recognition of our personal limitations should lead us (on a regular basis) to reevaluate our own perspectives, using questions to probe whether we need to alter those perspectives to be more in line with reality (which we have encountered) or that on a particular issue, we are still mostly satisfied with our view of it.

God has made us unique individuals. Our personal sin has made us handicapped in unique ways. I have found that discovering what questions others are asking is much more important than the answers they are offering, not that their answers should not be evaluated. With God’s personal attention to our salvation, He is uniquely qualified to restore His image in us. He will direct us to answers that meet our current need and capabilities, while working with us to reevaluate that question and that answer in the future.

May we be open to both His questions and His answers.

the difference is that faith proponents don’t call their beliefs facts, whereas science proponents generally do…i have yet to see an adventist evolutionist concede that his beliefs are only theories based on a set of assumptions…

One more difference is that science has created our technological systems that seem to work technologically, and medical science has advanced many fold since blood letting was the only option; while the “faith proponents” seem to have created only division among themselves.

The truth is, we can’t really compare the two. They exist in different spheres. This is why we can actually have science people who also have faith.; and people of faith working hard to make our lives easier to handle. Again, science has told us HOW we can do all kinds of stuff - see into the cosmos, beyond our sun and moon; cure what starts out as incurable diseases; make everyday life easier where we don’t need to thrash our clothes against the rocks to clean them - while faith gives life meaning beyond the technology, and tells us WHY we look into the cosmos; and why do we bother to transport our medical knowledge into all corners of the world. What makes it all work is education and a teachable spirit. That works for both disciplines.

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Fundamentalist faith proponents read Genesis 1 and 2 as if it is scientific fact. They argue as if it is. The Geo Science institute is built on such a foundation. They also argue that a universal flood is scientific fact. These are the a priori assumptions they have built their entire scientific worldview upon.

They have crossed the line of faith and science from the opposite direction. This is where all the problems come from in the faith/science debates. It is the lack of acknowledgement of the limitations of both disciplines, and claims that go beyond what they are capable of respectively.

On the faith side, to treat the Bible, and particularly the creation account, as a science text book is a categorical mistake. It is not how it was intended to be read and understood within its own cultural matrix. To read it as a scientific account of the creation is an eisegetical errand, all in the name of biblical faithfulness and literalism. It is a horrible misreading of the text, and has helped fuel ignorance, contention, and ridicule of the faith that isn’t necessary.

Frank

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i think you’re naive about the impact of science…it hasn’t in anyway restrained itself to answering questions of how…

this is just an opinion which you happen to feel strongly about…you can’t prove anything of what you’re saying…

others, like the geoscience research institute, hold as a premise that the bible is indeed scientifically factual…this is what they’re in fact researching…this is no less scientific than those who conduct research based on competing premises…

strictly speaking, research should eventually establish not only what is factual, but what isn’t…there’s no pass for evolutionists to assume the factual high ground just because they’ve ditched the bible which they not only cannot prove isn’t factual, but cannot bring themselves to concede has proven to be in at least some researched instances…

by and large, evolutionists are like trump: they’ve invented a result, and are bending heaven and earth to prove it, but are proving it only to themselves…

Jeremy,

The Genesis account was not written by someone and to an audience that had any idea or conception of modern science and cosmology. They wouldn’t even understand it… including the author. It simply wasn’t addressing our concerns or issues. It was addressing theirs.

If you want to take Genesis as a scientific account of creation, then you’d better be prepared to accept its ANE cosmology as totally factual, and the way we should view the universe today.

Are you prepared to make that leap?

Frank

You don’t start from the Bible to do scientific research. That’s starting with an a priori lens. One must start with the physical evidence and make observations to develop hypothesis and theories that can be tested on the basis of the evidence. Scientists doing research will go where the evidence takes them, and amend their views as new or conflicting evidence emerges.

Beginning with a religious pre supposition already colors that process. That includes atheism, or any type of philosophical bias that imposes external meaning as pre suppositions, as well. That is going beyond the realm of science, a point at which fundamentalists on all sides actually begin… the Geo Science Institute included.

Frank

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I don’t understand your answer here. Answering HOW is the function of science, so what’s your point.

If that is their premise, they have a long row to hoe. Nobody can go back to the beginning. They would have to prove, scientifically, the existence of God.

Look Vandemen, They are not interested in anything but, proving the seven day creation - and we all know why. Good luck with that.

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Ms. Cannon’s and Professor A. Thompson’s essays focus on the SDA quarterly lesson on Arts and Sciences in Education. I enjoyed their thoughtful discussions. I too noted the hostility in the lesson against “secular” education which the lesson called anti-God. As I see it, study of the arts and sciences is not anti-God if framed in the context of an omnipotent creator who approves of man’s study of God’s creation. The Bible is our moral compass (along w inherited “moral genes” DNA programmed in human brains. Genesis1 & Romans 1). The study of Mankind i.e the Arts(social science, economics, movies, music,etc) and the study of Nature i.e. the Sciences(math, physics, biology,chemistry, cosmology, etc) allows us to locate where we are in our relationship to Jesus/God in our journey toward oneness withJesus i.e “True North”. This triangulation can be thought of as a God Positioning System or “GPS”. For example, wars, and religious, ethnic & sexual atrocities, global CO2 warming take us away from Jesus while international cooperation and peace, justice and humanitarian assistance to needy nations bring us closer to Jesus who taught love, mercy, justice, gratitude,etc. Similarly, nuclear fission can provide clean energy while hydrogen bombs can annihilate cities. Also DNA genomes and biotechnology can theoretically eliminate genetic diseases and improve plants and animals for food for billions of humans but also theoretically result in DNA “monsters” e.g. lethal viruses, deadly human diseases. I guess the bottom line is the study of the Arts and Sciences should not be conducted in a moral vacuum without bias but within a framework of a strong moral compass, which for SDA’s and Christians = Jesus=God=love, mercy, thanks, remorse, justice, hope, joy, peace. Thank you Ms. Cannon and Professor Thompson for your stimulating essays.7 dec. 2020