Even though historians are fairly certain Jesus was not born in the month of December, most Christians will celebrate His birth on the 25 th . Regardless of when or how, we should celebrate the birth of Christ. Without His birth, His death could never have occurred, and without His death, people would be forever separated from God.
Jesus is first and foremost the Savior of the World, but He has been given other names throughout history. One of them is "The Great Physician." While not technically a biblical name, it is one that makes sense. Jesus likened himself to a "spiritual doctor" in Mark 2:17. In addition, the Bible is full of accounts where Jesus healed the sick.
While I believe Jesus still miraculously heals people today, I also believe God has given us the ability to use science to help us heal people. With that in mind, it is interesting to note that December 27 th marks the birthday of a man whose work has led to the near eradication of several life-threatening diseases: Louis Pasteur. Indeed, Dr. Peter Hammond says, "Pasteur has probably saved more lives than any other individual in history through his inventions." 1 Dr. Hammond can make such a bold claim because Louis Pasteur is the man who gave us the medical insight necessary to produce reliable vaccines.
As Christine Doa says in the Institute for Creation Research publication, Acts & Facts , "Little was known about preventive medicine and the causes of disease in the days of Louis Pasteur. Today, we owe all the discoveries in the fields of microbiology and immunology to his work." 2 How could one man do so much for all humanity? He did it through careful experimentation and detailed scientific reasoning.
Pasteur had been studying microscopic organisms (microbes), mostly in an attempt to demonstrate the biblical rule that life reproduces after its own kind. Many scientists of Pasteur's day thought that microbes came from nonliving matter, but Pasteur believed the Bible instead. He demonstrated that there is no way to produce microbes except from other microbes. He also hypothesized that some microbes could actually cause illness. Even though he was opposed by most of the scientific elites of his day, he used careful experimentation to provide strong evidence for his hypothesis. Today medical science is convinced that this is the case.
His main avenue for showing that some microbes can cause disease was to isolate the bacterium Anthrax , which he demonstrated to be the culprit in a rash of sheep deaths throughout France. In a truly remarkable flash of insight, Pasteur realized that a weakenedform of the bacterium would not cause the disease, but it would provide immunity against the disease. To test his hypothesis, he injected weakened bacteria into 25 sheep and put them in a herd with 25 other sheep that had not gotten such an injection. He exposed all 50 sheep to the unweakened form of the bacterium, and soon, all 25 uninjected sheep were dead, while the 25 injected sheep were still healthy. As a result, the concept of vaccination development was born. He later applied this concept to rabies in people, and a once-terrible disease was brought under control.
This led vaccination to be applied to other cases of disease in people. While Edward Jenner's famous smallpox vaccine had been successful before Pasteur did his work, no one really understood how it prevented the disease. Thus, there was no way to apply the process to other diseases. Pasteur's work demonstrated how the concept of vaccination could be applied to other diseases, and as a result, vaccines have made many dreaded diseases (like polio) a thing of the past.
While Pasteur's accomplishments as a scientist are amazing, it is also important to note that he was a devout Christian. John Hudson Tiner, author of Exploring the History of Medicine , says Pasteur "had devotions each morning, read the Bible and prayed before going about each day's activity." 3 . In fact, his motivation for studying science can be seen from his famous quote, "Science brings men nearer to God." 4
If you've ever wondered how to supplement your science curriculum, consider using the biographies of great scientists who were also Christian. This will not only educate your children in the history of science, it will also lay to rest the ridiculous notion that science and Christianity are at odds with one another. There are excellent resources, such asScientists of Faith by Dan Graves or Men of Science, Men of God by Henry M. Morris. A website resource can be found here. When should you study these great scientists? Why not on or near their birthdays? Start this month with one of the greatest: Louis Pasteur!
2 Institute for Creation Research, Arts & Facts , November 2008, p. 8.
3 John Hudson Tiner, Exploring the History of Medicine , Master Books, 1999, p. 84.
4 J.H. Tiner, Louis Pasteur—Founder of Modern Medicine , Mott Media, Milford, Michigan, USA, 1990, p. 90.