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.

*Mercifully, my friend doesn't roll his eyes at me.


  1. Have you seen the museum (I forget where, will goggle in a moment!) that is based on the Creationist viewpoint? I would like to go there, it sounds amazing.

    But, I know what you mean. I know what I know what I know, and I believe it 110%...but sometimes (a lot of times) I just cannot explain, or convince or have rational, logical, scientific backup to use in a debate/dialog. It annoys me, about myself. But then again I don't feel that motivated to research and translate and study XYZABC just to convince others or debate with them, when they aren't really interested in changing their minds or being open, kwim?

  2. This one makes me cry Matt. This is one I am cherishing. I love you.

  3. @Jen: I've been to the Creation Museum. Don't expect a xtian version of the Smithsonian. It's more of an evangelistic walk through the bible. Which is sad, since the older version of AiG's Creation Ex Nihilo magazine was so...scientific.

    Anyway, Matt, sounds like your friend is giving you the educated's way of wanting to know why you believe what you do. You're the "lighting" through which God might wish to zap your friend into clear understanding of who God is.

    Christ was right. If a person can't believe him concerning what he's told us about the natural world, how can they believe him concerning spiritual things?

  4. QOTB:
    "I just said a ten sided coin. Did that blow your mind?" reading that helped to soften the blow that you're obviously prejudiced against smart people.

    Your Mom, and I probably like the same part of this entry - Your friend struggles with the creation story - perhaps your friend will have an easier time believing the account of your re-creation - I know we're appreciating the narrative so far.

  5. Your thoughts remind me of the grace of God that He would lift the blinders off us so we can begin the journey of seeing the truth. So many are still blinded and need our prayers.

    2Cor 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

  6. Thoughtful blog baby, I love reading you thoughts while I'm gone :) I don't think you need my editing skills anymore, I think this ones great! Oh yeah, Elena says hi and that "youre a matty tatty natty head" 

  7. God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise!

  8. Ditto what Jordan said- the only thing I can add is that the Holy Spirit bears witness with us- we know because He put it in us-we can't figure it out on our own and know God~ its about faith in things unseen.

  9. There's a documentary called The Incredible Planet (I think that's the title...). It talks about how precisely earth sits in the universe and how there is no way mathmatically speaking that the earth's position in the universe is an accident. Also, the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed touches on a lot of the same stuff.

    Favorite quote in the blog:
    Otherwise, Big Bang me on the head so I'll know.

  10. When I think about the incredibly complex world we live in, with such intricate design down to the smallest detail, I just can't understand how anyone can really believe there was NOT a Creator involved in bringing it all together. Even if they disagree on who He is, what He is like, or how He did it - to say that it all just happened by accident - now THAT takes faith!

  11. Since I'm one of the embattled scientists, I'll chime in here. Hebrews 11:3 says that by faith we believe God made the world from nothing. The fact that that verse has to be in the Bible tells me that God knew it would be a tough pill to swallow. Although we have a 'complete' account of creation in Genesis, there are many holes in the account...I think of them as God being intentionally vague (six literal days to creation? Hmm, let's take a look at the original language on that one and find out how descriptive it really is). We have a habit of majoring on the minors as believers, and the creation-evolution debate is case in point. Sure, you can say that if someone doesn't believe God created, they have license to throw out much of the rest of the Bible...and you would be at least partially right (and yes, I believe the debate is an important one, don't get me wrong). But do we have to return the favor by throwing the genetically engineered baby out with the bath water? The truth of the argument is that evolution really can make sense to someone without faith in Christ. If I wasn't already a believer, I would think it seemed like a fine idea. I have many other thoughts on why this is the case, but I can't write them here without charging you a publishing fee or something:) The bottom line is that the current scientific agenda is not a godly agenda per se, and therefore may be bent toward dwarfing faith in an obstinate, near-sighted sort of way. In another example, it's like when believers support a Christian agenda that is not a godly agenda per se, and we may be bent toward dwarfing the intrinsic value of others and segregating ourselves from segments of society Jesus died for because we perceive a threat from without centered around a minor issue that Jesus Himself has told us we will not believe apart from faith. Although science has shunned faith in creation because of the weighty implications of supporting such a thing, they've gotta get their fix somewhere. And yes, faith, in it's essence, has an obstinate, near-sighted sort of way about it. We're all in the same boat with the same needs, but different perspectives. The issue is one of lost and found, not us and them. That's a subtle, but important difference. Thanks for the honesty, and a forum to discuss it all:)

  12. Hey, we just finished going through the "Truth Project" here. It's good perspective. You might want to take a look. We talked to our "kids" saying that you don't have to be dumb to believe Jesus. To be a Christian doesn't mean having to give up your brain.