19 January 2010

You Know What the News is. In a Moment...(connections 3)

...You're Going to Hear The Rest of the Story

There is always more to the story, isn't there?  Here's my "more".

I wrote about how my backyard landscaping prompted me to look into this beautiful Creation and our Creator, and how it spurred me to write on how this beautiful Creation-and the honest study of it-fits together in my mind.

But it really didn't start there. I could also tell you about college, and how college was for me, as most young people, a time of broad stretching and learning and growing. New ideas colliding with old ideas, and no idea exactly what I would be at the end of it all.

But it really didn't start there either.

There were rumblings, even in high school.

I went to a private Christian high school. There I learned most of the doctrine one needed to learn in order to be a good CRC Christian. Or at least had them told to me. Early on, I got the sense that there was something more. That this wasn't what it was all about.  I never got the sense that the answers my teachers were giving were the right ones.

I didn't even know what questions I should be asking, so I can't tell you how it occurred to me that there was something deeper, but it did.  Around my senior year of high school, I started to become disillusioned with everything the teachers were saying.

I was not satisfied.

Then in college, I learned a bunch of things that really blew my mind. Things like textual criticism, literary criticism, astronomy, geology, etc...

Suddenly the things I learned in high school were wrong, or at the very least not quite accurate.  The questions I began to have in high school were being answered, but not at all how I expected them to be.

I faced, like many people at that age, a crisis of faith:  the things that I was told were essential things to believe in order to follow Jesus were being systematically dismantled, by professors who mostly claimed the same Savior as I did.

I remember, after one very confusing reading and cross-referencing session, feeling absolutely lost.  I didn't understand how what I was reading had anything to do with how to live a Christian life, and I wasn't even sure that I wanted to live that life if this is what I had to understand.

That night, I prayed and asked God to tell me what to do.  If you want me to follow You, I said, You'd better give me an understanding of this, because I am totally lost.  I just don't get it, and if this is what You want me to get, then I guess I'll see You from the other side of the fence.

It was the end of my senior year, and I was preparing to go to college, because that's what you do after high school.  I got accepted at Calvin, and prepared to move away to the other side of the city.

That summer I spent playing chess in the Meijer parking lot and sitting at 7Eleven all night with my friends.  I met my roommate, and he and I hit it off right away, and we began doing regular college stuff.  I pretty much gave up on trying to figure out the questions that had bothered me in high school, and my nagging doubts were replaced by the busy life of a college freshman away from home for the first time.

Until my roommate found a book in the college bookstore.  I think he had to read it for one of his classes or something.  But he gave it to me, and we had some wild discussions about it.

The book was titled Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, by Marcus Borg.  It blew me away, and set in motion a new thought process that would lead me to the theological framework I live within today.

Freed from the constricting literal view that I was born into, I no longer had to struggle to justify what I was learning in my astronomy class with what I was taught about Genesis.  Incidentally, my astronomy professor, Howard VanTill, encountered a similar situation when he wrote his astronomy book, and caused quite a ruckus within the religious community.  As a result, he was very nearly fired from Calvin.

I realized early on that this was the answer I was looking for, this was what I had prayed for.

It did not look anything like I thought it would, and I knew I would never be able to be the same person I was before I went to college.

College was, for me, the first time I really set foot in God's Creation story.  Like the Gettysburg analogy, I had begun to understand that I was, in fact, standing within the story.  As I once set foot on the battlefield at Gettysburg, I was now looking at Creation, it's study, and indeed our Creator with new eyes.  The more I studied, the deeper I dug, the less it mattered when it happened, or how we're supposed to think it happened.

The point is that it happened.

And quite honestly, the more questions go unanswered, the more mysteries we have to solve, the greater God becomes.  Because wherever we discover something "new", God has been and is already there.



Amy said...

Obviously I would have to read the proffessor's book first before I can really make a comment. But since I have limited time these days, I read the synopsis on Amazon.
Personally, I believe in a literal 6 day creation http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v18/i1/sixdays.asp
It is hard for me to accept a "billions of years" theory when the Bible says days. It undermines the infallibility of the Bible.
Also, according to the Bible (if you believe it to be infallible - that is) there was no death and suffering until sin entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned. So, to accept evolution, you would have to accept death in the world prior to Adam and Eve's existance, no?

The Wingnut said...

A couple of things that I wonder, Amy:

First, when we say days, we know what we mean.

But maybe that was not what the text was intended to say. Genesis was not written as a science textbook, and any attempts to shoehorn it into that role will distort the truth of Genesis. It's clear from the rest of Scripture that God doesn't operate on our time, in fact He is not bound by time at all (2Peter3:8) according to our measurement.

My point is not to say you're wrong and I'm right (I wasn't around to see Creation either), it is to say that it is our understanding of the purpose of Genesis may be skewed a little when we attempt to make it say things that it wasn't intended to say.

For me, I have no problem with letting scientific research explore the "how" of Creation. It does not change the first verse for me.

Second, about death and suffering. There is obviously much that we don't understand about the nature of death and suffering. What I wonder sometimes is if it was man's understanding of death that changed with the Fall. Perhaps death was accepted, even celebrated as a normal event of the Creation, and only after the Fall did our view fall with us. Now we grieve death and long to get back what we have lost, instead of celebrating it as a natural part of life.

Just some thoughts!


zebulonthered said...

When I first read this post I was shocked by the conclusion. I couldn't believe my eyes. Were you saying what I thought you were saying? It couldn't be. So I read it a few more times.

By saying, “The more I studied, the deeper I dug, the less it mattered when it happened, or how we're supposed to think it happened. The point is that it happened.” it would seem to me that you did what Martin Luther suggested when he said “Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason.” I do not understand this. It appears to me to be self-brainwashing. If you were to tear out the eyes of your reason in any other area of life wouldn't you be considered crazy, or at the very least delusional?

The next sentence was even more shocking. “And quite honestly, the more questions go unanswered, the more mysteries we have to solve, the greater God becomes.” Are you really saying the more questions that go unanswered, the greater god becomes? If you are, you should hate telephones and computers, because if we didn't have the answers to the questions about the electron god would be even greater. You should also be against modern medical science, because if we didn't know how to save the lives of sick and dying people, god would be greater.

If we totally removed reason and logic from our lives, we would be living like animals in the forests, hoping that we will find enough food to survive while avoiding predators that would devour us in the night. But then, avoiding predators would take some reasoning skills, so maybe we would all be like sheep ready for the slaughter.

What kind of being becomes greater with ignorance? Surly not a god. A great mentalist or illusionist is only great if his audience is ignorant of his tricks. A great man is considered great by his deeds, the more people know about him the greater he appears. With that in mind, science, by answering hard questions, should make god appear greater. (Of course, it doesn't, it shows us how things work without god) A lack of ignorance shows us the absence of a god working in the physical universe, just as a lack of ignorance also reveals the absence of power in a mentalist or an illusionist.

Maybe I am reading you wrong. If so, can you explain what you really mean?