Pastoral Perspectives

Regardless whether it’s a Science Museum or a Disney movie

During our recent holiday in Hong Kong, my family visited the Hong Kong Science Museum. Since we read good reviews about how it was family-friendly with many interactive exhibits catering to children, we thought of giving it a try. It helped that it was located near the hotel we stayed in and after a hearty dim-sum brunch, it was probably a good strategy for resisting the looming “food coma”. 

As parents, we were glad that the exhibits managed to captivate my children’s interest and curiosity. It was fun for them to look at specimen of insects through the microscope and to discover more about the world we live in. For someone who didn’t study biology since upper Secondary, I also managed to learn a thing or two, such as how the human genome is actually shorter than some animals. 

However, it was also at this same Life Science section that I was reminded that even in a Science Museum, not everything that was presented is completely true or to be taken as objective scientific facts. With regards to explaining how life on earth comes about and where do human beings come from, this Museum takes the atheistic position of evolution and teaches that it took millions of years before we homo sapiens are where we are now (On a separate note, they did not explain whether our species will continue to evolve and if not, why not). 

I must confess I was initially rather disappointed by their stand. Not so much that it contradicted what the Bible says about creation but that it presented its view as if it is unbiased and free from any philosophical presupposition. But in reality, the laws of science in and of itself do give room to the plausibility of a divine Creator. Furthermore, Science teaches that there must be a Cause behind every material Effect. To put it simply, it is actually not “good” science to conclude that everything that we see on Earth came from nothing and to insist that there is no God.

On hindsight, I realised that my disappointment was due to unrealistic expectation on my part. For that matter, I should also not expect the Museum to made mention of other valid viewpoints or give due acknowledgement that Darwin’s theory remains a theory. In the first place, its agenda is not to help people understand that the laws of Science and the claims of Scripture do not necessarily contradict each other. From its website, we learn that their mission is to promote “science, technology and astronomy” amongst the people and to “to provide enlightening programmes for a better understanding and greater appreciation of nature”. With regards to its stated goals, their efforts have been commendable. My family would also gladly visit the Museum when the opportunity arises. 

As God’s people, it is our primary responsibility to be teaching our next generation about what the Bible says and to shape their worldview with a biblical framework. We cannot run away from the fact that genuine believers are but “sojourners and exiles” (1 Pet 2:11). As a minority, it would be naïve of Christians to believe that a Science Museum or for that matter, culture at large, will reflect our values or cater to our convictions. 

Our time at the Science Museum was but one of those moments that Moses spoke about when he instructed parents to teach God’s Word to their children “when you are sitting in your house, when you are walking by the way…” (Deut 11:19). We were glad we could discuss about what we saw and be amazed at how God’s Word is coherent and corresponds to reality. Hopefully, occasions like these will help lay a strong foundation for my children and equip them to engage meaningfully with their non-Christian friends about various matters.

In light of my family’s experience at the Science Museum, I think there is room to believe that when The National Council of Churches (NCCS) recently issued an advisory on Beauty and the Beast, our leaders were not being overly-sensitive towards Disney’s inclusion of a “gay moment”. I also doubt that their intent was to single out and magnify the sin of homosexuality since they would have spoken out against various matters in the past. Rather, they were simply taking the opportunity to remind Christians to be attentive to the entertainment choices of our children and to engage in meaningful conversations with them as they make sense of a rapidly changing world.

Whether it is the Science Museum or Disney, they are all trying to reach as many eyes, hearts and minds as they can. If anything, Disney’s latest move merely reflects the changing ideology of many of our neighbours. And so whether we watch the movie or not, we must not lose sight of their ultimate needs. By God’s grace, his people will continue to have the wisdom to faithfully and lovingly proclaim the Gospel and hold out the words of life and hope even as it must begin with our own children. 

Rev Edwin Wong

April 2, 2017