Sunday, July 11, 2010
Creation, Christians, Smart People, and God
So I have this friend. He's probably read the Bible dozens of times more than me. One of those thinker guys with cool erudite glasses. And he's entirely convinced that the Creation Story is just that - a story. He thinks it's a poetic narrative (three actually) adapted from another culture's god-fable. In his view anyone who thinks it's actually telling us that God created the world is missing the whole point.
The other night while he was talking my mind revved like an ancient car engine trying desperately to turn over. Then it exploded. God didn't create the world? Everyone agrees about this? I'm the only fringe person left that hasn't come around?
It's hard for me to swallow! I mean, I'm the first to admit I don't have my theological ducks in a row, but no Garden of Eden? I feel like a kid caught without homework at pop quiz time! And frankly, I haven't cared to study. I treat the Bible like I treat a birthday check from grandma. Take it to the bank and hope it cashes. I enjoy believing the Bible is God's infallible, inspired Word, and that the stories in it are true. Why would He screw with us by writing a bad check?
But when I'm in the ring with an academic, armed with quotes and books about why it's ridiculous, I dunno what to do. It sounds like he's got an army of intellectuals and mainline denominations backing him up. I'm sort of stymied. What do I say? "Based on the picture books I've been pouring over since I was 5, you're wrong! So there!" I don't have a leg to stand on. With a simple eye-roll* I'm reminded that, oh yeah, I'm one of those ignorant folks who doesn't double check his facts. Or his checks.
But you know what? That's not good enough. Just because smart people tell me I'm dumb doesn't mean I should take their conclusions at face value either. In fact, I'm kind of skeptical of intellectuals as a group. I don't mean to over generalize, but it seems that the academic community likes to pat themselves on the back for being clever, while ignoring the fact that they're only seeing life though one small looking-glass: science.
And as much as it disturbs smart people, science is not without limitations. It simply cannot answer all the questions. It can't quantify the soul or my conscience. (I find it personally amusing that the word 'conscience' when divided into two words, sounds like it can trick science: Con Science. Useless, but cute. Maybe an overzealous believer can build a worldview around it. Or at least a T-shirt.)
It's funny that Christians get a reputation for narrow-mindedness but when respectable scientists claim God is imaginary it's regarded as wisdom. To me that's illogical too! I can agree with God not being objectively provable like I agree with Hitler that Germans are special. But I don't think I'm alone in my sentiment that Hitler failed to consider other important facts. Similarly, I think a scientist that tosses out anything that cannot be scientifically proven is equally extreme.
So yes Mr. Scientist, I agree that you can't measure the specific gravity of my soul. But that doesn't mean it's not an objective part of life. It just means your science sucks. Ok, not entirely. What it really means is that you only have one side of a ten sided coin. That's right, I just said a ten sided coin. Did that blow your mind? You can't reduce the mystical out of life. It's silly of you to try. And it's silly of you to insist on proving everything empirically!
On the other hand, it seems that there are some fair questions I've never asked. At this point I have no trouble accepting the fact that I may know much less about God than I thought. Maybe I've convinced myself I know Him because of classes and altar calls rather than true discipleship.
I guess the silver lining is that it makes me realize how freaking awesome God is. As the days pass I see with increasing clarity that He is the one carrying me through my crap. And even though I often feel profound sadness at my fraudulent relationship with Him; I'm finding that it hasn't been a total lie because I'm still hanging on to Him like He's hanging on to me.
Still hearing a lot of condemning voices in my head though. And I'm still filled with pride and selfishness and rebellion. And I definitely have doubts at my ability to actually surrender my life to His control. But I'm trying. Every day I'm trying. And He keeps giving me more days. And overall, I think He's smiling at me, which is nice.
So, uh, God? If you really did create the world can you zap my friend with a little lighting and let him know? Nothing that will hurt or anything, just a little zing to remind him that you're pretty much the Man. Otherwise, Big Bang me on the head so I'll know.