PLease Don’t Confuse Me with Facts!

I subscribe to a number of daily & weekly blogs via Google Reader. It saves me a lot of time and ensures that I don’t miss anything from my favorite writers. This morning I got this from

Why are some Christians so afraid of science.

Why are some Christians so ignorant & afraid of science.

I will never understand why some Christians are A) so incredibly ignorant of basic science and logic, B) so afraid of science they really don’t want to know anything.

Take the above example. First of all let’s look at the original statement of so-called fact.

“Fact – if the earth was 10 ft closer to the sun we would all burn up and if it was 10 ft further we would freeze to death… God is amazing!!”

Yes God is amazing – I’m amazed he doesn’t hurl more thunderbolts when his followers come up with this kind of drivel. Seriously! TEN FEET!!! How can anyone actually believe this? It doesn’t take an astrophysicist to realize that is this were actually true then life on earth would have died off before Adam and Eve got themselves kicked out of The Garden.  Or at best life could not exists outside a narrow band between  10 ft. above and 10 ft. below sea-level.

The first thing they taught us in grade 6 science was the difference between mean distance and average distance and just how much wobbling there is out there when it comes to things like planets and moons and stars and such. One really has to wonder how any educational system more than 10% functional could produce this kind of scientific ignorance.

But the real problem here is not that God-is-awesome-guy can’t comprehend basic physics; it’s his reaction when someone points out the flaw in his logic.

“Okay, thats cool and alll but dont ever comment on my status telling me that i am wrong everrr again. I didnt ask you did i? Answer: NO” [sic]

This is what really bugs me about this post and the entire God vs Science debate (as if God and science have nothing to do with each other). What has happened to the church in the last century to make such a large portion of it so afraid of science? And why is it so many of those who claim to follow one of the gentlest, kindest, most polite people ever (Jesus wasn’t even rude when talking to those who were out to kill him) are such blatantly rude ignoramuses.

This isn’t the first time I have encountered this among God’s people. Back in the Eighties I had a pastor once try to tell me that human beings never, ever under any circumstances lived in caves. That the whole cave-dweller idea was part of the conspiratorial lie that is “evilution” (Yeah – he actually pronounced it that way every single time he said the word).

When I asked him to explain the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that indicated large numbers of human communities lived in caves all over the world, his response was, “Even if it is true, I don’t want to know about it. I prefer my own reality, the facts be damned.” (Exact quote folks. It was so absurd a statement I will never forget it.)

I’ve heard other pastors, elders, evangelists and everyday Christians make similar declarations. “I don’t want to hear the facts. If I’m wrong, I don’t want to know it.” What worries me most is I can only think of one place where this attitude can possibly have come from – insecurity.

That’s right – insecurity! You see, while a number of these people will tell you they hold fast to this position because they are strong in their faith and refuse to buckle under to the lies of science; I think the exact opposite is true.  If your faith is so strong then why must it run away from the facts.

Okay, I know that right now there are a large number of you screaming, “But evolution isn’t a fact – it’s a lie.” First of all – calm down. I’m not talking evolution here – I’m talking science in general. The above example has nothing to do with evolution – it’s a simple matter of math & physics. But even if it was about evolution, why run away from the debate with ridiculous statements like these?

Why can the church not engage in reasonable, intelligent debate instead of meaningless rhetoric that accomplishes nothing other than to shore up the argument that religion is the last retreat of the ignorant and uneducated. It just adds fuel to the fire; it doesn’t solve anything.

I’m really at a loss to understand where this recent fear of science comes from and belive me, it is recent.  As I’ve pointed out in earlier post regarding science fiction, such was not always the case. In previous centuries when science revealed new information about how the earth was made and how nature functions the response of many of these believing scientists was to marvel at the intricacy of God’s creation. In their journals and letters they revel in what they regarded as proof of an intellegence far beyond imagining being at the heart of the universe.

Their faith was not challenged. They didn’t cease to believe. They instead looked at the facts before them, looked at the Word revealed to them and studied to understand how the two come together. When they failed to be able to reconcile them it was not an indication that either science or faith were wrong, but rather an admission that we still need to study harder before understanding could be realized.

When did we stop doing this? When did it become acceptible to check your brain at the door before entering the church?  That’s not to say that there isn’t a good deal of dogmatic ignorance on the side of science as well, there is.  But I not being a scientist I can’t speak to that.

But I feel I can speak to the church, and once again I come back to the question of insecurity. I believe my faith is strong because there is nothing science can reveal to me about how the universe works that will shake it. And I don’t need to run away from it. I want to know how the universe spins. I want to know the world that God created because it all reveals to me something about who God is.

Sometimes it does challenge my understanding of exactly who God is, but never my firm belief that God exists. I harbour no pretentions that I fully understand all there is to know about God or the universe He created. My theology, like everything else about me is a work in progress, a constant state of being and becoming that will never be a stagnant pool but always a flowing river. The shape of it will change with each new turn, each eddy and tributary along the way. Some of the changes will happen because of what I read in the Word, some because of what I read in the earth, but through it all God remains the same.

If your faith avoids rather than faces the challenges that come along, how can growth ever happen?


40 Lashes for 5 Loaves of Bread?

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:26-27 ESV)

There’s a story by Maggie Michael of the Associated Press in today’s Toronto Sun that seems to fly in the face of James’ definition of true religion.   It appears that a 75 year old widow in Saudi Arabia asked her late husband’s nephew and his business partner to save her a trip to the market and bring 5 loaves of bread around for her.  Seems like a reasonable request to us, but the Saudi religious police arrested the trio after the bread was delivered and charged the woman with “illegal mingling” with men who are not close relatives.

The 75 year old Syrian woman (her late husband was Saudi) was convicted as a result of “citizen information” (she was ratted out by her late husband’s brother) and her conviction was confirmed because “she doesn’t have a husband and because she is not a Saudi.”  She has been sentenced to 40 lashes, followed by 4 months in jail to be followed by deportation back to Syria.  The two men also were sentenced to lashes and jail time.  Her lawyer will appeal.

Now I will be the first to admit I’m no expert on Islam or Mohammed. I’ve only read the Koran once and that was some time ago. But I really have a hard time believing that lashing a 75 year old widow for “corrupting the morals of young men” because they did her the favour of delivering bread was what the Prophet had in mind. And to be sure it would seem that even in the Muslim world this level of fundamentalism is pretty much restricted to Saudi Arabia and is garnering criticism even from Muslim quarters.  But this post is not about the horrors of fundamentalist Islam.

It’s about Christian fundamentalism and the separation of church and state.

As I mentioned in my review of ‘Nine Parts of Desire‘ (see book list) whenever I read about Muslim abuses I find myself thinking about the sordid history of my own religion.  Since the days of Constantine whenever the church has found itself in the role of Head of State it has inevitably led to abuse of the general populace.  It has been said that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” and it would seem the church is even more susceptible to this since they feel they have a direct link to the source of absolution. (pun intended)

And it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference what flavour of Christian you may claim to be.  The Reformationists in Europe where fully justified in throwing off the ‘shackles of Rome’ because of the corruption that had found it’s way into the papal system; however, once in power their persecution and execution of ‘heretics’ for such infractions as baptizing an adult soon came close to making the Spanish Inquisition look like a sleepless night a Guantanamo.

It’s no wonder that the Anabaptists started pushing for separation of church and state. Even though the idea appears to fly in the face of Old Testament theocracy, given the predisposition to tyranny displayed by so called Christian governments, it does seem to be the better option. Of course this too was opposed with many European monarchs, such as Austria, effectively declaring open season on anyone even suspected of being a “separatist”.

Which brings us to the present day. The lines being drawn in the U.S. and Canada between believers and humanists, conservatives and liberals, and the barrage of rhetoric being lobbed back and forth between them lead me to believe that a “Christian” party in power in a modern democracy would be no less tyrannical then their neo-Roman predecessors; only the manifestation of that tyranny would differ.  This has led me to the conclusion that ‘Christian politics’ is just not a great idea.

Not that I think Christians shouldn’t hold politicians accountable on moral issues, we are certainly called to be the collective conscience of the nation. And the best way we can do that is at the ballot box voting out those whose professed neutrality actually leans more to the dark side.  But when I hear talk of ‘Christian government’ it makes me cringe just as much as the idea of Saudi religious police. The greatest ‘real and present danger’ we face is when we try to translate personal morality into government policy. People being people, I just don’t think it can ever work.

The only Christian government that will ever succeed in achieving true justice will be the government led by Christ himself in the next age. Until then, as much as I hate to admit it, politics might possibly best be left in the hands of the morally neutral.