In 1995 I published a light-hearted “interview” with Leonardo daVinci in LeftHander Magazine. It was, for me, the combination of my three most treasured hobbies: science, history, and writing. It also meant the removal of another hero from his pedestal.
DaVinci was my icon – the perfect Renaissance Man in more than one way. He was the master of both the art and science of his day. He is famous for Mona Lisa and The Last Supper; for his hydraulics and flying machines. But what impressed me the most was the synergy of his art and science in the stunning equestrian statue he designed for the Duke of Milan. This was no ordinary statue of a horse. Standing 24 feet high, it was to be the largest bronze statue ever created – a triumph of art and science. Although it was never completed due to political issues, there seems no doubt that daVinci would have succeeded. And what a success it would have been!
But, in the end, I had to admit that Leonardo’s Horse was merely another Trojan Horse – another shiny diversion that sin could use to distract me from The Cross. The subtlety of these Trojan Horses would be something to admire were it not for their evil. After all, there is nothing wrong with a bronze statue of a horse. But daVinci was a pantheist, not a Christian. And it is all too easy to take the step from enjoying his art to admiring the artist; from a harmless debate over whether his casting techniques would have worked to the slippery slope of defending the views of the person himself.
I am not trying to convince people to avoid daVinci’s art. After all, Paul says, “For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?” (1 Cor 10:29b). Nor do I try to judge the fate of Leonardo daVinci; that is God’s role. I am merely pointing out the counterpoint to Christian freedom: “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Cor 10:23).
I am also extending a challenge to the community of Christian engineers. We have been given the gift of understanding science, and we can use that gift to reveal the Trojan Horses that Satan sends to Christians under the guise of science. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 says, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
This is not an easy needle to thread. As a second example, take the case of Isaac Newton; arguably the greatest physicist who ever lived. He has been charged with the witchcraft of alchemy by historians, but I dispute that charge. What we fail to realize is that the Church of Newton’s day also gave his experiments with gravity and optics the label of witchcraft. This was one reason he was reluctant to publish his work. The objective of science is to discover the truths of our physical world and dispel its myths. Newton was a pure scientist, and refused to call alchemy a myth until he had the evidence to prove it. In fact, Newton’s writings indicate that he saw science as a way to admire what God had created; as a way to better understand and draw closer to the Creator.
But Newton was not flawless, and we shouldn’t try to claim he was. Despite evidence of a strong Christian faith, it also seems apparent that Newton was an Arian. So, while we dare not defend Newton the man, we also dare not allow Newton’s physics to be hijacked by those who claim it justifies a clock without a clockmaker. It is our role to inject the appropriate dose of morality into science. We need to realize that the bearer of the news does not certify its truthfulness, but rather the Author. That means revealing false science among creationists as well as evolutionists, and supporting truth no matter from whence it comes.
I welcome a dialog on these issues.
“I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendents, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.” – Isaiah 45:19