Mark 12:17

12:17 Jesus answered them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

(World English Bible)

We hear the first part of this a lot, but not so much the second part, which is obviously the more important.

I take this to mean that obeying the laws of the land, whatever they may be, does not stand in the way of loving God. One could say it explains why Christians can tend to be conservative or even seem behind the times. At least, Jesus is making a clear separation between politics/legality and relgion/morality.

In a way, it reminds me of Genesis 2:19:

Out of the ground God formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

(World English Bible)

God does not tell Adam what to call the animals, Adam decides for himself. I take this as giving a kind of Biblical authority to secular science: we decide for ourselves, for our own purposes, how to categorise our world. After all, science is not about finding Truth, but about providing useful observations, descriptions and explanations.

Evntually, of course, science starts making observations, descriptions and explanations about morality. I think the positivists were wrong to exclude science from this territory in favour of religion. After finding Spinoza I think the two can work in harmony.

1 Comment

  1. […] How do you decide whether or not two animals should have the same name? I think God is saying to Adam, “Do science.” See also Mark 12:17. […]

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