As our country marks Columbus Day, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview has re-released a 2003 commentary from the late Chuck Colson about Christopher Columbus, the rise of science in Europe, and the role Christianity played in scientific discovery.
Science only happened in areas whose worldview was shaped by Christianity, that is, Europe. Many civilizations had alchemy; only Europe developed chemistry. Likewise, astrology was practiced everywhere, but only in Europe did it become astronomy.
That’s because Christianity depicted God as a “rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being” who created a universe with a “rational, lawful, stable” structure. These beliefs uniquely led to “faith in the possibility of science.”
You can listen to Chuck Colson’s entire commentary below or read it here.
When we talk about the value of religion to American society, we often mean moral or spiritual value–like the way Christians and churches espouse biblical truth and point people back to God. The Church’s primary “value” in the world is spiritual–not monetary.
However, to prove religion is valuable in more ways than one, researchers writing in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research and Religion have published a study evaluating religious institutions’ economic contributions to American society.
After examining the revenues of religious organizations as well as the fair market values of the goods and services these organizations offered, researchers estimated “religion” in America contributes at least $378 billion to the U.S. economy annually–and possibly as much as $1.2 trillion or more.
Faith-based healthcare networks contribute $161 billion annually (13.9 percent of the total contribution of religion to the U.S. economy). Congregations contribute about $327 billion annually (28.2 percent), plus an additional $91.3 billion if schools and daycare are taken into account (together making 36.1 percent of the total). Higher education adds $46.8 billion annually (4 percent), charities add $95.2 billion annually (8.2 percent), and businesses [with religious roots] add $438 billion annually, slightly more than a third of the total (37.8 percent).
Obviously, this research is imperfect–a point the study’s authors carefully make–but when you consider how many hospitals and adoption agencies were founded by religious organizations; how many Christian charities contribute to things like disaster relief, and how many churches are backing their efforts financially; and how many churches run food pantries, homeless shelters, daycares, and schools; it becomes apparent that people of faith are having a tremendous impact on the world–both in spiritual and economic terms.
As we have written before, a few years ago the Arkansas Legislature passed a law authorizing public schools to teach about the Bible.
Act 1440 of 2013 permits public schools to offer elective academic courses that study “the Bible and its influence on literature, art, music, culture, and politics.” The courses must be objective and nonsectarian, and must meet the same academic standards as other elective courses offered in public schools.
According to CNSNews.com, the Bentonville School Board is considering whether to offer an elective course on the Bible in the coming school year–drawing the ire of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group based in Wisconsin, who sent a letter to the board last month in opposition to the course.
It is worth noting courts have indicated the U.S. Constitution does not prevent public school students from being taught about the Bible and its significance throughout human history, provided the instruction is conducted in an educational and neutral manner.
In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court even went so far in its Stone v. Graham decision as to say, “the Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like.” The key is the state has to have a legitimate, secular purpose in offering elective courses on the Bible.
Act 1440’s stated purpose for these classes is to study the Bible’s influence on our culture. This purpose seems more than reasonable, considering no single book has held more sway over western culture than the Bible.
As we have also said before, students and teachers do not shed their First Amendment freedoms by walking into a school. Students are free to form religiously-based student organizations. Students can even discuss their faith, if relevant, as part of course assignments and homework. They can peacefully read scripture or pray during breaks, before school, and after school.