What do I think of John Lepp’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
John Lepp was looking for people to read this book. A friend recommended me so I figured I’d give it a look. I am someone who is not really interested in science as science, but I am interested in the philosophy of science and the supposed history of the warfare between science and religion. Because of that, I figured I would give this one a look and see what I could find out as I am always interested in learning more about this area.
Now my position on this is unusual to some. I am not one who can say yet that I support the movement of Intelligent Design. I think it still ends up with a too mechanistic universe and I do think there are better arguments out there, arguments that hinge on final causality which I consider much more important. When I use the Kalam, I do not use the version of Bill Craig. Frankly, I don’t care if the universe had a beginning or not, though it is my understanding that scientific evidence today does lean that way.
I can’t say I really found what I was looking for here. I found some arguments against Dawkins and Harris and Hawking and others, but these are also found in several other places. I also would have liked to have seen more emphasis on the real enemy here and why there is no real conflict between Christianity and science. The real enemy is not science. Science is to be our friend and ally. The main enemy is scientism, which shows up quite frankly everywhere on the internet.
You see, it’s believed that in medieval times, the priesthood controlled everything and theology was seen as having all the answers. This is simply false. When explanations were given for natural phenomena, natural explanations were preferred. It could be that those answers were wrong many times, and in fact they were, but this was before advanced means of research was around to answer such questions. The point is that attempts were made and these did not run to “God did it!”
In fact, the medievals were people who were looking constantly for scientific explanations and when it was found, it was not like God was less out of a job. In fact, God was held in greater awe. It was the way of saying “I never would have thought of doing it that way.” The medievals expected to find explanations for the phenomena. That is why it was that they were looking in the first place.
Despite this, it is believed that the priesthood was seen as the group that could answer every question. Today, there is a new priesthood and that consists of science. Now not all of the scientists today hold to what is thought to be the classical priestly vows of the scientist. Not all of them believe that science is the answer to everything. Some do believe that there are questions that science cannot answer.
Unfortunately, the group that speaks the loudest often gets the most attention, and that is the group that holds to scientism, the belief that either all questions must be answered scientifically, or else that the only way to know something for certain is through science. Both of these of course are self-refuting positions, but they are still the real enemy that is around today.
Today then, science has become a new priesthood and the scientists are the bearers of all knowledge. Keep in mind this is not saying anything about science. This is saying something about some views of science. An example of this kind of scientism is found in JT, an opponent that John Lepp has a debate with at the end of the book. An example of this is a statement like this JT makes in the debate:
“The bible makes numerous claims that conflict with the way science has revealed the universe to work over a long list of different disciplines. For instance, the idea of somebody rising from the dead could not be more offensive to our understanding of biology and medicine. We have established this so completely that virtually nobody opposes interring the deceased, regardless of how loved they were in real life, for fear that they will reanimate”
This kind of statement is so incredibly hysterical. Does JT really think that ancient people didn’t know this? Does he really think that people were hesitant to bury the dead because they thought the dead would return to life? The Jews were the ones that had sects that believed in resurrection and even they buried their dead. That the dead don’t naturally come back to life is not a discovery of modern science. It has been a well-known fact for ages before.
JT goes further with this kind of statement saying that walking on water is offensive to physics. It is as if JT does not know that ancient people built boats. Why did they do this? It’s really quite simple. They knew that people don’t naturally walk on water. This is not a discovery of modern science. This is something that those stupid ancient people who did not have modern science already believed. Contrary to what might be thought, ancient people were not stupid.
Yet people like JT believe that we can no longer believe in miracles because, hey, we live in an age of science. It is in fact because of basic rudimentary science that people could believe in miracles if they happened. Why? Because in order to recognize something outside of the normal realm of nature, you have to know what the normal realm is. You won’t consider a virgin birth a miracle unless you know people don’t get naturally pregnant on their own. You won’t consider walking on water a miracle unless people naturally don’t walk on water. You don’t consider a resurrection a miracle unless you know that dead people stay dead.
Unfortunately, I think Lepp on his end of the debate focused too much on science and not enough on scientism, the real problem, not just for religion but also for science. I did not see in the debate with JT an argument made for the existence of God or the reliability of Scripture or the resurrection of Jesus. JT’s problem was not really bad science, and I am not to say if he had it or not, but bad metaphysics, a metaphysics that holds to scientism and does not then answer basic questions on our existing.
So in the end, I found the book to be an okay read, but not what I was expecting. I will say that the book does end on a happy note, and one that I was pleased to read, and also one that I will not share on this blog. It is not part of the main thesis of the book, but it is a story that should be heartwarming still.
If the author wrote a second edition or a sequel, I would like to see more on scientism. I would look to see more on showing why the claim about the Dark Ages is frankly a myth. I would also like to see more quotations from leading scientists on how they are not opposed to religion to show that the viewpoint that says they are at war is a loud and ignorant mythology.