Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Elihu’s Better Answer


He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen. – Job 37:11-13

In our Modern or even in our Post-Modern view of the world, we can suffer from chronological snobbery. “Early man was a primitive brute who didn’t understand the world with the complexity and sophistication we enlightened beings do. We pity them.

This mindset leads to the common notion that religion is an expression of fear early man had of the universe around him. Lightening was scary and the notion that it might be uncontrolled was terrifying so they invented a god or gods to wielded it. This meant there was purpose behind lightening strikes that set forests ablaze and that man could influence them by appeasing a particular god.

A lot of that is hogwash and this quote from the book of Job is a great comment on that. Elihu, the one who said the above phrase, shows that at least this ancient man, he and Job were probably contemporaries of Abraham, didn’t have an understanding of metrology that was rooted in fear or superstition. His description above is fairly accurate. Clouds are moisture and they do produce lightening. But Elihu wasn’t materialistic either. He didn’t view these things as purposeless, unguided events that were solely the product of natural causes. Elihu understood that God was sovereign over these things and that they achieved his purposes.

Don’t believe the caricature of religion that is being propagated today. Like Elihu 4,000 years ago, we aren’t afraid of or ignorant of the natural processes the universe runs on. At the same time, we don’t for a moment believe that those natural processes dismiss God by explaining him away. “Eliminate the need for a god and the god simply disappears,” so the reasoning goes. This is why materialistic atheism has such high hopes for evolution. Douglas Adams summed it up nicely in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe with the Babel fish:

Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

“But,” says Man, “The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”

“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.

“Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo’s kidneys, but that didn’t stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best-selling book Well That About Wraps It Up For God.

We can and should explore the natural processes that lead to things like rain and lightening and earthquakes and solar eclipses. God made a universe that produces such things, so to understand them is to understand what God has done and what he is like. Materialism, the theory that physical matter is all that there is, is not a foregone conclusion; it is a theory about the universe that has some tremendous problems with it and a lot of explaining to do. Elihu has a better answer.

What Do You See?

“What Dana [Tierney, writer for The New York Times Magazine] observed about believers–their wonder over the creation–is at the heart of why we even have science. If the stream is a result of accidental natural forces, then you just see water, rocks, and dirt. If God equals the stream, then you worship the stream god, not the creator of the stream. But if God created the stream, then wonder and curiosity naturally flow into study.” – Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“The contemporary atheist movement has a scorched earth strategy – chop down Christianity, root and branch. I don’t believe in God either, but this strategy is entirely counterproductive.

“Not satisfied to point out that elements of Christian belief are historically implausible, or that religion is scientifically unsubstantiated, the New Atheist movement wants to prove something more. That Christianity has been a force for bad, that there is something fundamental about religious belief that holds back progress, approves of oppression, and stokes hatred.

“Yet virtually all the secular ideas that non-believers value have Christian origins. To pretend otherwise is to toss the substance of those ideas away. It was theologians and religiously minded philosophers who developed the concepts of individual and human rights. Same with progress, reason, and equality before the law: it is fantasy to suggest these values emerged out of thin air once people started questioning God.” – Chris Berg, Secular World Has A Christian Foundation, Brisbane Times, 4/15/2012

Faith & Doubt & 9/11

Last night I watched the Frontline program Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero. It examined the impact 9/11 had on the faith in God of some people when the World Trade Center was destroyed. There are a lot of things I’d like to talk about in relation to that program (there was more doubt than faith even though their on line poll was exactly the opposite) there is one thing that is bothering me. One of the voiceovers said something like “religion drove those airplanes into those towers and for that reason religion should be abandoned.” The voice was angry and passionate.

This is a common cry from atheists. But what of the Holocaust? Millions of Jews and others were exterminated by Hitler in order to “improve” the race. Hitler had taken the theory of evolution to its grisly and horrific extreme end and decided that the right thing to do was to purify the gene pool. He strove for Nietzsche’s Superman ideal.  So if the cry to ban religion should be applied fairly, evolution must likewise be banned. What options does that leave us with?

In the end, the Frontline program was all about religion and not about faith. It was about man’s attempt to grasp at God and not about God’s self-revelation. No one asked what God has said about humanity’s evil. No one asked if God is going to do something about the evil in the long run. No one asked if America had even been faithful to what God has said. Only that religion is a bad thing because it leads people to extremes such as flying commercial airliners full of people into buildings filled with people. No one asked what God said about that.