Working Toward a Mature Faith

In undergraduate school, I remember one professor marveling at various features of brain functioning and talking about the reasons that a particular function evolved.  It was just as easy, or easier, for me to think of reasons that these features were designed into the system.  In my first class on physiological psychology, the professor did not have an evolutionary bent that I could tell, and merely marveled at the function and complexity of the brain.  I think many students are unprepared for the naturalistic worldview, and that this often can trigger a crisis of faith.  In their book, God Attachment, Clinton and Straub (2010)1 note that people often enter adulthood with the same views they had with their faith that they learned in early childhood.  In other words, they have not developed a more mature faith that allows them to have an understanding of the problem of evil, the existence of many different religions, and the evolutionary viewpoint (a view espousing the all-powerfulness of useful accidents).  Thus, they are setting themselves up for a crisis of faith that will inevitably come with real-world life experiences and the hard knocks that life delivers.  I frequently encounter people who become sort of paralyzed in that crisis of faith without attempting to find answers to their questions.  They will often just resign themselves to somewhat of a wishy-washy stance like, “I’m not sure I believe everything in the Bible.  I believe, but I’m just not sure about X.”  When asked, they’ll admit they’ve never tried to resolve the issue with learning more about the subject.  So, they end up assuming a distant stance with God on the basis of a particular issue that they have not taken the time to resolve.

I don’t think people have to believe that Genesis is literally true to be saved.  I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that would suggest that.  But I do think it is possible to be logically consistent and hold an intelligent worldview encompassing a literal account of Genesis.  Frankly, I think a literal account of Genesis leads to the most logically consistent stance in explaining the problem of evil in the world (i.e., the fall).  Also, one only needs a vaguely possible scenario to explain certain observations (apparent age of the Earth and Universe) to make this tenable.  If God is all-powerful, then He could have done it.  I’m not advocating a kind of “God did it” approach to science, but I am rather asking believers to explore the issue in more depth and to develop a more mature way of viewing their faith.  This can help believers have a more mature relationship with God.

I would also caution creationists against the view of saying that people who advocate for evolution are liars.  Evolution contains many lies, but to lie involves intent to deceive.  There are times when they do likely lie, but it’s better to be careful about this.  I’d rather look at it as a worldview, which I think contains many untruths.  It’s understandable, just false.

I urge fellow believers, and those with doubts, to more fully explore these issues in order to develop a more mature faith—a faith which can stand up to the complexities of the world and the problem of evil in the world.  More personally, it will help with the very difficult things that you face in your own life and promote a deeper connection with God.

1). God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God

Advertisements

Evidence as Parable?

In this post, I seek to take a step back from the ID/evolution debate, and consider things from a Christian perspective.  Jesus often spoke in parables, and explained the reason to his disciples:

“The knowledge of the secrets of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. This is why I speak to them in parables, ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand'” (Mat. 13:11,13).

When thinking about design in the universe, it makes one wonder why God created a universe where evidence seems to perpetually point in two possible directions.  In other words, we don’t find a message encoded into DNA that says something akin to “God was here,” written in every known language.  Certainly He could have done that, but it seemed to be part of His purpose that evidence for creation be presented in the same manner as He spoke through Jesus (i.e., in parables).  Unbelievers in the days of Jesus consistently misinterpreted the meaning of His parables, just as the evidence of design is consistently misinterpreted by today’s unbelievers.

That’s why I don’t ever expect ID theorists or creation scientists to find a “smoking gun,” that absolutely proves design in nature.  That would remove the necessity of faith.  Likewise, I don’t expect a smoking gun from the side of naturalism that proves that matter and energy are the only things that exist.

As a result, I’m skeptical whenever I hear claims that it has been proven that the mind is either completely material or immaterial, that it has been shown that there is no evidence for design, that there is no evidence for materialism, and so forth.  In other words, by design, there will always be evidence pointing in both directions.  However, when it comes down to an individual’s decision about whether to believe in God, there is enough evidence for each person to decide where they will place their faith in order to fulfill the following verses:

Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

That said, ID is an important scientific endeavor that seeks to uncover the evidence for design, which is evident in nature.  For Christians thinking about the issue who might be confused, it is helpful  to remember that the evidence will never be bulletproof, but it will be sufficient for your decision of faith.  Furthermore, the evidence is strong enough so that we are without excuse.

What kind of God is interesting?

In a previous comment I wrote:

If God has no love, but is powerful, I’m not interested. If He has love, but no power, that interesting, but of little significance (he’s a cosmic puppy dog–dyslexia?). If He has no goodness but interest in humans, he’s a powerful and cruel dictator. If He is not just, but has power and interest, there can be no Justice under his creation. If he has love, power, knowledge, justice, and interest in human beings, you would expect expect this to be revealed to those in whom he expresses interest. This is a foundational argument for pointing to the Christian God, who is described as having all these characteristics.

I’m not trying to directly tie this into ID, creationism, or naturalistic evolution at this time, but I do think there could be implications for each perspective. I have a hard time with the orthogonality position relating to the realms of science and theology. And believe it or not, I actually think Dawkins is correct in his theological extensions of naturalism to atheism (although tied back in with my arguments above), and that furthermore, if you are a pure naturalist [philosophically] it follows that believers are delusional (as he [Dawkins] is so fond of saying). I don’t think evolution entails atheism, but I do think naturalism [philosophical] does. Of course you could probably split hairs all day long on different definitions of naturalism.

I just thought this was worthy of a post in its own right.