From Second Wind
Last night around 10 p.m., we heard shots fired just outside my door. I rushed to see what was up, a normal occurrence in my new life. My neighbor across the street was standing in his side lawn, saw me at the door, and asked in a loud voice, “You got any problem with what I just did?”
“Well, I don’t know what you just did,” I said, certain he had fired the shots. “I just came out to see if everything was OK and everyone was still alive.” He assured me everything was fine. I heard the neighbor behind him asking the same thing as I went inside. I guess he just decided to take out a pistol and start shooting. Thankfully not at me!
I walked away shaking my head – again. (Author’s journal entry, August 16, 2004)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declare the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Christianity contradicts our intelligence
One tactic Satan uses is the notion that it just takes too much faith to believe in Biblical Christianity because Christianity defies the intellect. While this is similar to the primary objective of Satan to render the Bible irrelevant, it is different. Moving beyond simple dismissal, it makes intelligence the central issue. Many Christians have tried to defy science by depending solely on faith, but science does not defy Christianity (or vice versa). Sometimes those who call themselves Christians try to defend indefensible issues and are then disproved by science. The Genesis account, for instance, says that God created the Earth in seven days. If that is true, the Earth can be calculated to be six thousand years old based on the Biblical account. Scientists, however, have determined that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Because of this discrepancy, it would seem natural to believe that either the Bible or science must be wrong. However, the Hebrew word for day that is used in Genesis is Yom, which can mean a segment of time rather than a twenty-four-hour day. A segment of time could be anywhere from a second to any number of years. For instance, Yom could mean the day of the dinosaur, referring to the time in history when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Therefore, the Bible and the Genesis account of creation could be completely accurate based on a more, rather than less, literal interpretation of the Bible. There is another possibility. When God created Adam, Adam does not appear to have been a baby. Rather he seems to have been created with some years on him:
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. (Genesis 2:8)
That could be true of the Earth as well. Perhaps God created the Earth as if it were 4.5 billion years old when, in fact, that was not literally true.
I repeat – it’s not about Christians
Not all Christians try to defend apparent contradictions with science. Not all who call themselves Christians threaten to burn the Qur’an on September 11, or actually follow through and burn it later on as Terry Jones is said to have done. Not all Christians protest at the funerals of young soldiers who died in battle because they think God is punishing the United States for tolerating homosexuality. And not all Christians are predicting they know when the end of times is going to be either, particularly since the Bible says we won’t know. So, let’s take the Bible for what the Bible says, not for what some Christians say about the Bible – as sad and frustrated as it makes me to have to write that for a second time. Those of us who call ourselves Christians should be above reproach. Sadly, we often get caught in Satan’s traps just like the rest of the world, because we too take our eyes away from our Lord and Savior. Then we doubt the same message we preach to others. Irrespective of that, many things are a matter of faith and not just faith in Christianity. In fact, everyone has faith, even atheists – the issue is where we place our faith. Take the movie Contact as an example.
Contact is a movie about Eleanor (Ellie) Arroway (Jodie Foster), a scientist and confirmed atheist who has a lifelong belief in intelligent life in deep space. It has been her life’s mission to prove it to the world. In one scene, Ellie tells a Christian pastor (Palmer Joss, played by Matthew McConaughey) that while she doesn’t have faith in God, she strongly believes in aliens. Moreover, she challenged the faith of this pastor on his own faith in God. In fact, she wanted Palmer to prove there was a God, even though she had no proof of aliens. Here is his response when she asked him to prove it:
Palmer Joss: Did you love your father?
Ellie Arroway: What?
Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him?
Ellie Arroway: Yes, very much.
Palmer Joss: Prove it.
His point was that proving you love someone can be difficult, even inconclusive, which is the same with God. It is a good point, as it suggests that proof can be somewhat misleading.
Faith of an atheist
What I found more interesting however, was the scene where Palmer asks Ellie about her belief in life on other planets and her explanation for why she wants to get buckled into a craft that would hopefully take her to the aliens she had finally contacted:
Palmer Joss: By doing this, you’re willing to give your life, you’re willing to die for it. Why?
Ellie Arroway: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been searching for something, some reason why we’re here. What are we doing here? Who are we? If this is a chance to find out even just a little part of that answer. . . I don’t know, I think it’s worth a human life. Don’t you?
Although not outwardly spoken in the movie, Ellie had faith, a lot of faith, since she was willing to die for what she believed in (aliens!). As the movie goes, Ellie does take a trip into space and meets with her deceased father – but, upon her return and to her dismay, there was no physical evidence that any of it happened. She ended up almost contradicting herself by telling people that they had to trust her on faith. As a scientist, she knew how inappropriate that was to say, but for her, it was true! People who turn to the Bible have the same questions as Ellie. We just don’t think the answer is lost in space.
Faith in the fog
What does someone do whose faith is in traditional areas when they are surrounded by sharks and caught in the fog, metaphorically and literally speaking? Florence Chadwick wanted to be the first woman to swim the twenty-one-mile strait between Catalina Island and Palos Verde on the California coast. It was cold and foggy the morning of July 4, 1952, when she attempted her swim. Several times, her support crew had to drive the sharks away using their rifles. Despite the encouragement of her trainer and mom, she quit before finishing. Afterward, she is reported to have said that she would not have quit within a half mile of the finish, had the fog not prevented her from seeing the finish:
Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land, I know I could have made it.
Her faith was in her abilities, but when the fog prevented her from seeing the end, she gave up. To her credit, she eventually returned and was victorious. But it appears her faith was in her own abilities, her determination – what she could see, which wasn’t enough in the fog. Sometimes our faith has to be tested to see just how much faith we really have in whatever we claim to have faith in. Biblical Christians just believe the Bible, the most influential book in civilization, even if we have become a minority.
Besides the truth being arrogant, the majority is often wrong about many things, so being a minority is not a surprise. For example, did you know that 12.3 percent of the world’s population (and 15.6 percent of the 167 countries in the world) is a full democracy. Although another 37.2 percent of the population (and 31.7 percent of countries) are living in flawed democracies. You – if you live in the United States – live as a minority. Furthermore, if you live in the United States, you are one of about 307 million others. But there are some 6.5 billion people in the world. So, less than five percent of the world’s population lives in America. You are a minority twice over just by living in the United States.
If you have a home and car, you are in the top three percent of the wealthiest people on Earth. If you eat healthy, you are in the minority. Most of us live as a “minority” if we are living in America. These percentages are something to consider as we switch sides of the fence to defend our opinions. Although living a healthy life does not guarantee a disease-free one, it at least gives us some degree of control over our health. Irrespective of that, it won’t stop most of the medical community from focusing on medicine as the cure for health problems, when our diet is often at its root. The Christian Reformation was undertaken by a minority of people who disagreed with the majority and who sought to set things straight. Most causes worth fighting for start with a minority opposing the majority. So, while the minority may not always be right, I hope the argument that the majority of people not believing the Bible as an argument against its validity is juxtaposed to the reality that the majority is often wrong.
I don’t think Christianity contradicts anyone’s intelligence.
Christianity enhances it.