Friday, March 17, 2006

Miracles - The CSI Effect

Note: this was the introduction to a sermon on Elisha’s healing miracle in 2 Kings 4:18-4:37, and Jesus’ healing miracles in Mark 1:29-39.

Title: The CSI Effect

A crime scene investigator from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was dusting for fingerprints in a home that had been burglarized. The investigator was challenged by the homeowner with these words: "That’s not the way they do it on television."

Captain Chris Beattie, who heads the L.A. County Science Services Bureau, also called the crime lab, calls this "the CSI effect."

With 60 million viewers a week for the three CSI programs on CBS - CSI, CSI:Miami, and CSI: New York, there is a lot more interest these days on how crime scene investigations are done. Robert Hirshhorn, a jury consultant, cites a study that showed that 70% of a jury pool were viewers of CSI, or A&E’s Forensic Files, or NBC’s Law and Order.

These shows have helped make jurors more receptive to scientific evidence, and another positive outcome is the demand by jurors for better investigations.

There are also downsides. The public now has unreasonable expectations that every crime can be solved quickly and conclusively like it happens on tv. Jurors have unrealistic notions of what science can deliver. Criminal science is not infallible and it cannot absolutely insure that the right criminal will always be caught.

The CSI Effect is an offshoot of our faith in science. From earliest schooling we are conditioned to believe that what is real is that which can be experienced with our five physical senses. What is real is that which can be measured, tested and verified through scientific experiment. The material world - space, time, energy and matter, is what is really real. We firmly believe that we can develop laws, theories, and best practices that are consistent, stable and dependable.

Science teaches us to trust what we can observe, either with our naked eye, or through a microscope or telescope. Science in history has led to secularism, but in this new millenium we understand that secular thought has not produced the needed corrections to the ills of this world.

Science, technology, business, education, government, the media and the arts have all failed us. Huston Smith, an internationally respected authority on world religions states that "today none of these is serving us well" (The Soul of Christianity, p. xviii). We need more than a materialistic outlook can deliver.

This morning we turn to someone who stands outside our contemporary scene. We need to find someone who is not bound by a scientific mindset to believe that there are limits to what God can do. We turn to Elisha, a prophet from the 9th century b.c.


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