Theology and Science Reflection on a man born blind…

Last Sunday I was preaching on Jesus’ healing of the man born blind in John, chapter 9. Here’s how the story begins, As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” (English Standard Version of the Bible)

In every sermon there is always more background material and good illustrations than a preacher can use in one sermon. Here is an excerpt from an article I read on the Biologis website that is relevant to my sermon.

TheologIcal Reflections on John 9: 1-7 by Dr. John Pohl

BioLogis: February 18, 2013

Now that we have gone into quite a bit of detail about one specific disease, I want to describe certain aspects of a Creator related to what we have learned about CF genetics.

  1. God is smarter than me (or you). It is amazing what He has done in regards to the complexity of life and inheritance.
  2. Disease and death are a part of reality, which is justified in a reading of the Bible. The blind man, just like a child with CF, had no sin which caused a debilitating illness. Much of the suffering that we see in the world of medicine is due to environmental and genetic consequences.
  3. Besides our immune system, there appear to be other mechanisms for protection against disease that are often difficult to observe in a first-world setting. We see this idea in how CFTR protein mutations may protect against certain infectious diseases. Whether God did this through a divine purpose or allowed a random mechanism to occur (or for what appears to be random to us, in our limited scientific understanding) is irrelevant. I can see that the process of mutation occurs, and I believe in a God that allows it.
  4. Finally, I am thankful that “modern” medicine has developed therapies in the basic science and clinical realms to allow an improved quality of life in CF patients, as well as for patients with other diseases. It is now common for patients with F508 mutations to live into their 30s or 40s. At the beginning of the 20th century, most CF children died well before 2 years of age. I use quotation marks around this word – modern – as 20 years from today, much of our current CF treatments will have changed, leading to even longer life for these patients. I am thankful that God has allowed us the capacity to investigate our world at an ever-advancing state through the use of the scientific method. That, in itself, is a gift for humanity for which we should always be thankful.

(John F. Pohl MD is a pediatric gastroenterologist and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah.)




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