Reese and I had a GREAT conversation the other day about rationality, science, and the Christian applications of those things. It all came from a conversation about the Star of Bethlehem presentation that this one A&M prof does.
Anyway, I was just wondering why it is that we feel like we have to find a scientific, rational explanation for the star, instead of simply saying that we believe there was something above Bethlehem. for example, what’s to stop God from simply revealing the glory of His fingertip, and pointing at Bethlehem? This led to a discussion of other areas where American Evangelical Christianity seems to feel compelled to try to “prove” to the larger culture/society that what we believe is “reasonable” and not foolish – for example, creation science, teaching creation alongside evolution in schools, finding noah’s ark, etc. Not that I’m opposed to any of these things in and of themselves, but merely that we seem to be dedicating a lot of money and resources and effort and energy these sorts of battles, when we barely ever hear about the massive persecution of the
church in Sudan.
While I believe in a literal 7 day creation, and I feel that that interpretation is important and consistent with orthodoxy and good hermeneutics, I also feel like the money/energy/effort expended in fighting some of that sort of stuff in court could be channeled into other areas which would be greater exercises of faith, and more in line with the overall character of God, and our call to reflect that character to the world. Not that we should stop scientific inquiry, or that Christians shouldn’t care about such issues, but merely that perhaps our western, post-enlightenment culture values rational explanations a bit too much, and the church has been “suckered” a little (or maybe a lot) into that. I can see a problem with going too far to the side of trying to explain everything in the Bible with science, rationality, etc. But I can’t really see a real problem, at least not Biblically, with a little more blind faith. Not stupid blind faith in the sense that “Because the Bible doesn’t explicitly say the earth is round, it must not be round,” but more along the lines of the faith which approaches acts of God as what they claim to be – acts of God. Not that God can’t use physical laws to interact and tweak things – perhaps the star of Bethlehem was really a syzygy as some believe, and that would make sense. But it doesn’t have to be. And physics can only take us so far – modern science cannot, and should not, be used to try to explain (to Christians) or explain away (to non-Christians) all the miracles of God.
Kathleen put it well – why are we trying to subject some miracles to the scrutiny of modern physics, and confine it to the box of modern science and rational explanations and not others? What happened to regular old miracles – infinite God getting involved in a finite world, and actually breaking rules – like making 5 loaves and 2 fish turn into a MASSIVE feast, with more leftovers than they had food to start with? Not that Christianity is just stupid blind faith, but what is the faith of a child, if not some degree of just good old trust that what God said He did, He did? Because the logical push for rational explanations begins to try to put everything under the umbrella of scientific explanation, and that’s not such a good thing – we begin to lose the mystery, the wonder, and of course, the faith. After all, ultimately, science has shown that a dead man cannot come back to life. It seems that our American church is a bit preoccupied with being reasonable to the world.
Anyway, it was just a random thought that popped into my mind one afternoon. After a test, too, no less. HA! Shows you what my mind actually enjoys crunching. I’m open to suggestion. This is far from a set, firm, decided thing in my mind. If anyone has any ideas as to what the counter-argument might be, let me know. Is there something wrong with a more extreme, less obviously reasonable faith? Are we just too proud to say/admit to the world, that yes, our faith appears foolish to you? Why do we feel compelled to explain, rationally, as much as we can, before then turning to faith?
I Corinthians 1:18-31 (NASB)
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”