Faith, Logic, and Myth April 20, 2009Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs.
Tags: absolute truth, faith, logic, myth, narrative, reason, The Bible, The Flood
Is there a line to be drawn between faith and logic?
Yesterday morning we were running very late for Sunday school, so I sat in the lobby for the final 10 minutes or so of class and listened to the session taking place in the auditorium (or “sanctuary” for the non-CoCers in the crowd). The lesson that morning was about Noah and the story of the flood from the book of Genesis, a subject which I generally find both interesting and incredibly frustrating to discuss. The speaker, who is somebody I love and respect a great deal, made it abundantly clear time and time again that he believes that the story is absolutely factual, perfectly correct and true in every detail. The teacher then said something that stuck in my mind and brought about the idea for this blog post. It was something along the lines of, “I have faith that the flood actually did occur and that it was global and that only Noah’s family and all of the animals on board the ark survived.”
Now, perhaps it shows an over-reliance on knowledge and reason, maybe it shows a lack of faith, but it makes me very uneasy to hear others refer to stories like this as absolute truth. The evidential grounds of a worldwide flood a few thousand years ago are shaky at best and, maybe I’m a heretic, but I have trouble buying into the idea that God would asphyxiate every man, woman, baby, and even animal as part of a grand plan.
Instead, maybe we should look at the story as what it is, a story (pdx will love this). Perhaps it is an attempt by a regional, primitive people to make sense of a natural disaster while still pointing to God as the ultimate divine reality.
So, rather than worrying about whether or not the flood (or creation, or the Tower of Babel, or any other number of stories) actually happened, maybe we should be more concerned with the overarching narrative of the story and the truths of the ideas therein.
God’s Voice pt.3: Inspiration April 15, 2008Posted by Matt in God's Voice.
Tags: creativity, god, inspiration, logic, love, religion
In the last entry, I spoke of three gifts of divine nature that God has bestowed upon human beings that sets them apart from the millions of other animals roaming our planet – logic, creativity, and love. While these are certainly not the only three heavenly characteristics in our possession, they are the first ones that came into my head as I composed yesterday’s entry. So now the question comes down to this: how does God speak through these divinely ordained gifts today?
Growing up, the point was always emphatically made that God’s inspiration is done. Finished. When the last apostle was laid to rest in the first century, all inspiration immediately ceased and any words spoken to the contrary were considered near blasphemy. As a younger person, I accepted this as fact with little room for argument.
Today, though, my beliefs have changed.
It is my firm belief that the inspiration of God never stopped. Never. His handiwork is still seen across time in works of art, in pieces of music, in poetry and prose, in mathematical proofs, in scientific hypotheses, and in the love we show to all we come in contact with. Being endowed with divine gifts means that His inspiration is upon each and every one of us, though, because of our free will (another gift of God), we may choose to twist the gift and pervert its purpose to fulfill our own selfish desires.
We each have the ability to accept this divine inspiration and turn it into something good, something that can change the world. And it is in this way that God speaks today – by inspiring us to employ the wonderful gifts that he has bestowed on us as we, in turn, bless those around us.
God’s Voice pt.2: Divine Gifts April 14, 2008Posted by Matt in God's Voice.
Tags: creativity, god, imago dei, logic, love, religion
Once upon a time, our prokaryotic ancestors of eons ago emerged from the primordial sludge and began that long, strenous track across the spectrum of time, weaving its way through life explosions and mass extinctions until finally reaching a new stratum of existence, that of modern man. Now, man was somewhat different from the other creatures, even those of his own mammalian family, for this being had certain traits far greater than those of his preceding stages. Compared to other living things of the day, man had ascended to a height of power that was near god-like.
We read the account of creation in the book of Genesis and, whether or not you believe it to be a highly accurate, scientific text in which the entire universe was begat in a mere 144 hours (and obviously from the paragraph above, I don’t), there is one bit of passage that really sticks out:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” Gen 1:26
What exactly does it mean to be the imago dei – the image of God? Does it mean, perhaps, that God is a bipedal humanoid being and we actually physically look like Him? Or does it maybe mean something else entirely?
No, I would say that the image of God is not necessarily found in outward appearances, rather, it is an inward trait, one that presents itself in our very being and it is present in every piece of humanity around the globe. In my view, God bestowed a bit of Himself, a portion of His divinity upon us when he granted us our existence as modern man. In doing so, we may even say that He relinquished a bit of his divine powers in order to bestow upon us these powerful presents. So, in what ways does the imago dei within us present itself?
Logic and Reason – While it may be said that other primates show some very rudimentary abilities to apply logic to a problem, it is human beings that have crafted and employed this gift from above. Just as God crafted the cosmos and set it into motion according to the carefully constructed laws of physics, concocted a table of elemental substances of which all known matter is contructed, and began living things along their arduous evolutionary trek, human beings then took and eventually shaped many of these forces to do their bidding – sometimes for good and sometimes evil, from the near-eradication of deadly diseases to the horrific power of the nuclear bomb.
Creativity – Is there any doubt that God is certainly a great and wondrous artist? Whether gazing upon the purple mountains majesty or looking into the far reaches of our galaxy or theorizing about the smallest particles imaginable, His greatly imaginative handiwork can be seen all about us. So, it stands to reason that this gift has given us nearly unimaginable works of beauty by the human hand in everything from the beauty of poetry to the elegance of mathematical proof to the works of classical painters and sculptors. Creativity is surely a trait of the divine.
Love – Perhaps the greatest and most often neglected of our astoundingly great gifts in our overly-individualistic Western culture is that of love and community. As the great poet William Blake once said:
“And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk, or jew;
Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.”
To be continued…