On Evolution

Last December I was at a Christmas party with some members of a new church I have been attending.  The discussion turned to evolution (for whatever reason), and one gentleman commented “I can’t believe I had been lied to for so long.  They tell you in school that evolution is true and you just accept it.  I didn’t know the truth until I became a Christian.”  (or something to that degree)  Everyone heartily agreed with this gentleman.  Being the new guy, I smiled and nodded and kept my mouth shut, but in the back of my mind I wanted to ask “Why would it matter?”

Evolution is a prime example of fundamentalism gone wrong.  For those of you familiar with the Scopes Monkey Trial and William Bryan Jennings, the issues of creationism and evolution were brought to a head in a very public trial.  While creationism won the day, Clarance Darrow proved that there is something fundamentally wrong with anti-intellectualism.  So why does it still exist?

Galileo Galilee once said “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”  Amen!  Yet here we are, four hundred years later and the church is still being drug like a sack of potatoes by the discoveries of science into a new era.  Rather than coming along side science, the Church resists it, as if science were a kryptonite against belief in God.  During Galileo’s age, it was the centrality of the sun; today it is the evolution of man.  Why is it so difficult for Christians to incorporate the findings of science, such as with the theory of evolution (which I believe to be a valid scientific theory), with faith?

And why do I ask this question?  Because I believe that God is a personal God and seeks to be in a relationship with us, but when people ask me about God, the issue of evolution always creeps in and the alienation begins.  It’s like we are asking people to check their brains at the door and accept evolution as a global conspiracy against the church in order to come to faith in God, and the fallout of that alienation is huge.  The communication gaps widen and debates turn into shouting matches, the judgmentalism grows, and the Church is viewed by secular society as intellectually inferior, thus not worth examining.  As a result, the Church becomes the red-headed stepchild of Western society and continues its decline.  A theology that does not incorporate science with faith will continue to alienate the people that choose to use their God-given abilities of reason, and that must change!

So allow me to offer an apology on behalf of the Christian church for our anti-intellectualism.  The Bible is not a science book, yet there are plenty within my faith community that mistakenly use it as such.  I believe that Genesis should be read with spiritual eyes, not literally, for Genesis demonstrates our alienation from God and how we all need divine help to make it through the day.

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Dear Atheists . . .

Atheists have always fascinated me.  Atheists pride themselves on rationality over faith, science over religion, reason over indoctrination, physics over metaphysics.  That’s fine, so let us use logic and reason in our discussion with the existence of God.

First of all, let’s talk science.  Science can never prove the existence of God (I freely admit this), but let’s not forget that science does not disprove God’s existence either.   Science is not concerned with God or His existence, but with the measurable universe in which we live.  God is transcendent, or “outside” of the known universe and not something that can be defined or measured by science, so why use science as a standard for non-belief?  In fact, if science could measure God, then God would no longer be God!  If anything, recognize the limits of science and stop assuming that science has anything to do with God.  Atheist flaw number one: bad logic regarding science and its role in faith.  Remember, atheists, if science could disprove God, then all scientists would be atheists.  In fact, there are plenty of scientists that believe in God, many of whom came to belief due to their scientific discoveries about the universe itself!

Second, let’s talk “reason” over belief.  The stereotypical atheist will “reason” that proving God is like proving a unicorn: proving something does not exist does not mean it exists either, therefore it is reasonable to assume it does not exist.  True to a degree, but allow me to poke holes in this reasoning.  First of all, the atheist confuses the nature of God with other “imaginary” beings.  The nature of a unicorn has always been mythological and we can easily discount myths as real.  Unicorns have never been the “eternal constant” from which the universe was created.  Neither have the mythological Greco-Roman gods, or the flying spaghetti monster.  Do not misappropriate the transcendence of God to the immanence of mythological figures.  Second, atheists wrongly assume that something needs to be “proven” in order to exist.  Unlike the atheist, I readily accept that there are things that can never be scientifically proven yet can still exist.  I do not assume that the physical world is all there is and there is nothing outside of it.  In fact, I believe having that mentality is extremely limiting and narrow-minded, the exact foci from which atheists attack religion!  Just because I can’t prove God does not mean God must not exist.  From this argument, the atheist will revert back to the “unicorn/spaghetti monster” argument, which I have already covered.  Remember that plenty of scientists believe in God without believing in unicorns, even though they have no measurable proof for God’s existence!

Third, atheists wrongly assume a personal God in their attacks against God, and use it to disprove a transcendent God.  This is also known as the “invisible man in the sky” argument.  In using this reasoning, the atheist conveniently assumes two things: A) that God is a personal God (ie, interacts with the universe, which is a different argument altogether) and B) God should act in accordance to a predetermined set of criteria.  By affixing personal characteristics to God and describing God as the “invisible man in the sky,” the atheist can discount the existence of God when those characteristics fail to hold true (if God existed, He would do something about the evil in the world right now, for example).  That is not logic, that is simply stacking the deck to suit your own opinion in order to arrive at a predetermined answer, also known as begging the question (arriving at a proposition which requires proof but no proof has been given).  You can believe in a transcendent God without believing that God is a personal God or actively at work within the universe; many people do!  Atheists, please do not assume that God must be a personal or conform to certain patterns of behavior in order for Him to exist.

Fourth, the atheist often points to religious hypocrisy as a reason not to believe in God.  Let’s assume the atheist is correct in religious hypocrisy.  Atheists say that religion is responsible for wars, genocide, countless evils, etc., therefore if we rid the world of religion, the world would be a better place.  I do not deny the numerous atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion.  But let’s not forget that religion is also the driving force behind humanitarian efforts in third world countries, outreaches to the poor and oppressed, and a source of hope in worlds of darkness.  I have yet to see any atheist organizations go into Africa, or Haiti, or other areas affected by natural disasters, famine, poverty, etc. to lend a helping hand.  Furthermore!  I say that atheism is responsible for FAR more evil and death than the entire history of religion!  Atheist leaders such as Stalin, Pol Pot, Milosevic, and Mao Zadong (to name a few!) have the blood of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS on their hands.  Religion, on the other hand, has just a small fraction of that blood.  Now I am not saying that two wrongs make a right, but it is clear that a world controlled by atheists would be a much larger disaster than a world in which we recognize a living God and our actions have consequences in the eyes of that God.  A world without divine consequence is a permit for evil, and this proof has been adequately and substantially demonstrated during this past century.  A world without religion would never “live as one” and John Lennon believed, but would tear itself apart, therefore it is logical to believe that a world with religion is much better than one void of religion.

Finally, let me say this: belief for or against God is always a matter of faith.  If you believe something WITHOUT having any proof to back up your belief, it is an issue of faith.  Just as I freely admit that my belief in God is done out of faith (I call it reasoned faith), the atheist must accept that making a commitment to believe there is no God, without having any proof other than personal beliefs, is also taking a leap of faith.  The only ones that have the luxury of not committing to a belief either way are the agnostics, the ones that simply say “I don’t know!”  The rest of us who have taken a side must be willing to accept the role that faith plays.  The theist says “I have faith” while the atheist says “I lack faith.”  But guess what?  Your lack of faith is transformed to a new form of faith when you utter the words “There is no God” with only your belief to back up your claim.  The “intelligent” atheist would recognize this dilemma and retreat back to agnosticism rather than push a bad position without realizing the hypocrisy of it.

To the atheist, I have a few questions: what would it take for you to believe in God?  Many say they would require God to appear to them, or do something miraculous.  What if God were to do that?  Would you attribute it to God, or would you say it was a fluke of nature?  In other words, is there any room for God in your narrow way of looking at the universe, or are you simply comfortable in setting your own criteria for your own beliefs in order to justify your actions?  Or is religion, and not God, the real issue at heart?  If that is the case, you should examine your motives for your beliefs and recognize that personal bias, not logic, is the real reason you believe the way you do.

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Why Am I Here?

I am a Christian that struggles with my faith; needless to say I’m not the only one.  I often justify sinful actions due to the ambiguity of faith itself, so I have decided to create a blog that reflects my struggles with faith in God and the person of Jesus.  My hope is to be able to reflect on various issues of faith in order to help myself grow in God, and to help others who may be struggling with the same issues but have been fearful to proclaim them.

I am a seminary graduate, but I do not present the faith in God that should be required for aspiring ministers.  I originally went to seminary to teach high school, but after becoming disillusioned with Christian “education” (I say that because most Christian institutions that are K-12 specialize in indoctrinations rather than educations), I have now begun a process of self-reflection to determine the next step of my life.  I am not a Bible expert, nor am I a theology expert.  I consider myself a semi-educated novice in these areas.

I will be brutally honest with my opinions, for which I apologize.  It may seem “unChristian” to express certain opinions that paint the Church in a negative light, like saying most Christian institutions indoctrinate students, but I do not believe Jesus’ church on earth should silently censor its members in the name of unity.  Give me a voice to express my displeasure and let us work through the issues so that we may mutually grow together.

I expect a majority of my posts to address issues facing the church, rather than issues within the church (with which many of my seminary professors seem to be preoccupied).  As such, I would like to be a voice to the unbeliever to help him/her understand a believer’s point of view while also being  a voice to the believer on behalf of the unbeliever on these topics.  I have discovered that both sides often talk over each other rather than to each other; it’s time to start meaningful dialogues rather than continuing the virtual shouting matches.

Topics that I know I will address include atheism (oh boy), science & evolution and their deserved places as partners in developing a balanced faith in God, the beliefs of other religious systems including non-Christian and heterodox Christian systems and how they affect us, the damage caused by fundamentalists in evangelism, Israeli/Palestinian conflicts, and other perceived “hot” topics of today.  I read about these all the time, and I need this venue to express my opinion on them.

If I offend you or your belief, allow me to apologize in advance.  I will argue, but I will try to do it in a Christ-like way.  I do not think arguing is bad, I think arguing out of anger is bad.  I pray that I do not succumb to arguing out of anger or malice, but the topics I plan to address cannot avoid pressing emotional triggers.  Hopefully I can let reason, and not emotion, be the prevailing force of my arguments and opinions.

So that’s why I’m here.  I am a conflict-driven person that wants to have a voice on certain issues, and I feel that the church does not always provide the necessary venue for me to speak, nor would I want to neglect the opinions of people inside and outside the church that I may be addressing.  My goal is to grow through complete honesty and rational discussion.  From there, I hope to discover more of why God made me this way and how I can better serve Him.

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