truth, seeking it, doubting it, discussing it, etc.

I’m at a local coffeeshop and a couple of nearby folks are discussing science/faith/evolution/creationism/etc – it’s an actual discussion, too, civilized and open-minded and productive-like. This is encouraging to me, because it so often is the case that such coffeeshop conversations end up sounding like people simply yelling their (mis?)conceptions at each other with little regard or respect for not only what the other might think, but what facts the other might have to back it up.

I’ve always thought a few things about evolution (particularly where it concerns, intersects with, and perhaps even conflicts with the Christian faith):

  • the very word ‘evolution’ seems so loaded and has, I think, become one of those words the truest concept of which few really have a solid grasp of (I’ll go ahead and include myself in that category)…
  • and as such, the word ‘evolution,’ and with it any evidence that might seem to conflict with certain biblical scriptures, is often met with a reaction from the church that I would regard as rooted in fear; I’d rather see a reaction rooted in the seeking of truth…
  • and oftentimes, I’d go so far as to say that scientific/archaeological/etc. findings of the sort that generate such reactions (the ones I have heard about, anyway) rarely absolutely conflict with an idea or concept at the core of the Christian faith… and so I think they are therefore rarely the sort of thing that ought to shake one’s faith to such an extent as the church’s reaction might have one believe it ought…

– and even the shaking of one’s faith, or any personal crisis that looks like it, can be regarded as something other than ‘bad’. Doubt, after all, seems to me a much more honest and humble and real reaction to such conflicting information than the sort of stubborn pride that allows one to simply disregard the inconvenient evidence and consider only that which already fits into his conception of How Things Are Or Ought To Be. Some would see, and indeed many have upheld, such stubborn pride as the most sincere faith, but I would remember Kierkegaard’s words regarding the most sincere faith (a faith of the sort that Johannes de Silentio, the pseudonymous author of Fear and Trembling, could not himself claim): ‘…in my practice I have not found any reliable example of the knight of faith, though I would not therefore deny that every second man may be such an example.’ Perhaps I’m taking K’s words out of one context and applying them in another, but I think they fit here…

Um, I’m speaking in pretty vague terms, and following a somewhat scattered train of thought, probably because these are ideas that I think in the end demand the most inward examination on any individual’s part. I should add that I don’t have a clue how I’ll think about such things in another two, ten, twenty years – but I’ll leave it at this: I was glad to hear the most civil and respectful and open-to-truth-that-may-not-look-like-the-truth-I-have-thus-far-known discussion, of a historically controversial and divisive subject, I have heard in public in quite some time…

Cheers to that,
-jb

PS. I should also add that my good friend Kevin Roden has moderated a good many such ‘civil discussions of matters that matter’ through the Drink and Think events he’s hosted at his house. The Drink and Think is something that I hope to see spread outward from Denton as people who have experienced it move away… anyway, click the link above to see scheduled events… there are none posted at the moment but if I’m not mistaken he’s planning a few for this fall…

PPS. the soundtrack to today’s encouraging coffeeshoptalk was provided by a composer named Hauschka. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to listen closely to his music but what I caught here today was beautiful… unless I was somehow just hearing things all kinds of wrong, I’d enthusiastically recommend checking him out…

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5 comments

    • takeaparthead

      Um! Andy, I can’t remember a single discussion we’ve had that wasn’t of the productive/constructive sort…

  1. bdkoehn

    Some thoughts:

    I think for me, the main issue I would have with evolution is if someone says “God did not create man or the world” or some statement as such. My faith is not shaken and I am not fearful, but I have no doubt because I remember such words as Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” or in Colossians “For by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.” And others.

    But I never want to frustrate anyone or belittle anyone if they disagree (though I am not ashamed to be “holding fast to the word of life” and I want others to have the peace in trusting in God’s word as I do) and as I glory in the preeminence of Jesus in all things I also am reminded of His powerful love that is in me and how everything I do should be out of love.

    • takeaparthead

      When writing that post yesterday, I was mostly thinking of the differing views of the earth’s history that come as part of the evolution discussion – the long and short histories of the earth… and while on the one hand I often think, ‘well, how can we really know with certainty what happened before the much more easily/accurately recorded modern times?’ – I’ve also thought that the long history surely seems to make much more sense, and I’ve thought that view to be reconcilable with the scriptures. Some would say that must mean I don’t take the bible literally, but I generally do – perhaps I’m selective about that, or perhaps such a view only speaks to a lack of familiarity either with scripture or with the earth’s history as related by science… I’m not sure. I certainly am thrilled to hear people discuss it, though.

  2. Chris Ryser

    You know, when I was younger, I would get into philosophical discussions like these with my buddies in college. I was a Christian who did a very poor job of walking the walk. I wish (now that I am changed man) that instead of trying to debate my buddies (and they were calm, honest debates) that I would have demonstrated who Christ is to them. And don’t mean by handing food to poor people – not that that’s bad. I wish I would have shown them how to experience God for themselves. Sure, anyone can learn about God from the Bible, but what is it to actually EXPERIENCE him like the people of God did in II Chronicles 7? What happens when you enter a room where God is actually present? At that point, you may have some questions, but I doubt they will be related to creation vs evolution. Understanding the Word of God is vital, but also very important is experiencing him now.

    I would like you to check out a couple of websites below (and you can delete them before posting the comment – I’m not on a promotional tour) and let me know what you think. Thanks

    Chris


    http://www.worldrevivalchurch.com

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