Faith, Science, and The Simpsons
In response to my post on "The Worship of U2, Part One", my friend Bruce left a comment questioning the relationship between post-modernism and science. My reply to his comment began to grow so long that I just decided to adapt it here as a post. As I am not an expert on post-modernism, my comments are part guesswork, but I think he is right in exposing the often inconsistent attitude that post-moderns can have towards science and other products of a modern worldview. I think, however, that this is natural. Very few people are wholly consistent in their worldview and I suspect that most are really a mixture of modern and post-modern thinking. This may be part of why the term "post-modern" is so highly problematic in the first place. In fact, I think this inconsistency has marked the relationship between faith and science as well. Christians are quick to attack science as an unholy discipline whenever it appears to impinge on cherished beliefs, but then praise it to high heaven whenever it appears to support cherished beliefs.
One of my favorite representations of this dichotomy comes from The Simpsons in an episode dealing with faith vs science (although I think the application of post-modern vs science works here as well). Following the purported archaeological discovery of an angel skeleton in Springfield, a riot between pro-religion and pro-science people breaks out . Moe is part of the pro-religion mob which is running around attacking science as an outdated and failed discipline. Of course, this being satire, the character of Moe functions here as a representative of the often inconsistent Christian worldview with respect to science. In one scene, Moe loudly proclaims in response to a televised news report on science, "Science. What's science ever done for us? TV off!" (as the TV responds to his voice command). Later, Moe helps to lead an enraged mob in an attack on scientific institutions in Springfield. As they are setting fire to the Museum of Natural History, a dinosaur skeleton falls and pins Moe to the ground, prompting Moe to exclaim, "Oh, I'm paralyzed. I just hope medical science can cure me."
Later, this leads to a court trial in which Lisa is accused of having destroyed the angel skeleton. Judge Snyder announces that in addition to addressing this potential misdemeanor, the trial will also settle "the age-old question of Science vs. Religion." When the skeleton is found intact, Judge Snyder issues his decision: "I find the defendant not guilty. As for Science vs. Religion, I am issuing a restraining order. Science must stay 500 yards away from religion at all times."
That of course is not possible. Worldviews are not simply replaced by another one like switching out spark plugs in a car. "Post-Modern" is certainly a misnomer if it is taken to represent a brand new worldview that is uninfluenced by what came before. Most younger members of churches are really, I think, I curious blend of older and newer ways of looking at the world. That may be where the challenge lies.