by David Sisler

Trickery, deceit, hypocrisy and outright lying. No, it's not politics. It's from the scientific community. You probably do not expect it from scientists, but they are as guilty as anyone else.

One of the most famous hoaxes in the history of science surrounded the discovery of Piltdown Man. In 1912, Charles Dawson, an amateur naturalist, announced the discovery of fossil fragments of an early man. Three years later, Dawson allegedly discovered more bone fragments of the same creature.

In 1953, modern scientific testing revealed that the jaw of a modern orangutan and a 600-year-old human skull had been used to fool the scientific community – and the rest of us – for over 40 years.

80 years later, Dawson has some kin. Mitchell Rosner fabricated documentation which purported to show advances in the molecular study of fertilization. The experimentation promised far-reaching implications in the fields of genetics and the study of birth defects.

Mr. Rosner's paper appeared in 1991 in the respected scientific journal, Cell. When the magazine discovered the deception, they moved in a manner uncharacteristic of the scientific community. Mr. Rosner's co-authors acknowledged the fraud, retracted the paper in its entirety, and apologized to anyone who might have been led astray. Such chicanery is rarely acknowledged.

A brief aside, if you please.

There is no suggestion, and none is to be inferred from this paragraph, that recent archaeological research conducted by the University of California at Berkeley is anything other than a legitimate uncovering of fossilized bones. The Associated Press reported recently, that as presented by Tim White and published in the issue of Nature magazine, released on March 21, 2002, a fossilized link in the evolutionary chain has been found. “A million-year-old skull found in Ethiopia confirms,” the AP writes, “that modern man evolved from a single pre-human species.”

The article extols the research and gives pertinent details, but leaves out, in my opinion, one crucial point, which I read in Nature. The find is a fragment – from the nose cavity to the top of the head. It is only a fragment. A complete skeleton has yet to be uncovered. But this is proof of evolution. And they say creationists are simple-minded believers in faith!

But back to Mitchell Rosner.

Another of the unusual circumstances surrounding this fraud is the inability of anyone to explain Mr. Rosner's actions. He was acknowledged by his peers as being the one person who had no need to publicize fabricated research. Speculation has centered around a possible desire to be recognized.

Such a desire for public recognition is not limited to the scientific community. It has its counterparts in every part of life, even in the Church. The Bible calls it hypocrisy.

"Be careful," Jesus said, "not to make a show of your religion before men. If you do that, then you will have no reward from your Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:1).

There is a difference, Jesus was saying, between letting your light shine before men and magnifying your light so that people will notice its brilliance. Jesus outlined three areas of our Christian life where there is a danger to make a show of our religion before men. The first is in giving, the second in praying and the third in fasting.

There is a way to give that is not really meant to help the individual who will receive our gifts, but simply to demonstrate our own generosity and to bask in other men's praise. The question of giving is not so much what the hand is doing, but what the heart is thinking while the hand is doing it.

There is a way to pray that does not really address God, but is meant for the ears of our fellow men. It is meant to demonstrate our exceptional piety in a way no one can fail to see. Jesus said, "They love to pray." They do not, however, love the God to whom their prayers are seemingly addressed.

There is a way to fast that is not meant to humble the individual before God, but simply to show the world what a self-disciplined person he is. Such a faster may go hungry, but his soul is never nourished. He may exhibit restraint over his body, but his spirit never knows self-control.

The person who gives to be praised, who prays to be applauded, who fasts to complimented, is, in the words of Jesus, a hypocrite, an actor, someone who is playing a roll. He is impersonating a Christian, but it is only a disguise.

The hypocrite, said Jesus, received his reward in full when men praised him. He holds only a worthless receipt, signed not by God, but by men. "And what shall it profit a man," Jesus asked, "if he gains the whole world, and looses his own soul?"


Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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