Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Evolution, Creation, and the Death Of Thinking

Now that God has officially written off Dover, PA (according to Pat Robertson), I decided to stick a toe into the Creationism/Evolution bedlam. My problem with the War on Intelligent Design is not that I think kids will be brainwashed into believing that God does not exist. Parents and churches, instead of insisting that God be brought into the classroom, should start a dialogue with their kids, and help them to wrestle with the issues raised about creation, evolution, and God’s role in the natural world. Isn’t that our job anyway? No, my problem with only teaching Darwin in school is that it is an example of how we are teaching our kids not to think for themselves.

The average person’s understanding of the word “theory” shows that we are becoming more and more closed-minded. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “theory” as “A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.” Even though most people understand that a theory is not necessarily true, when it is used in the context of a “theory of evolution” or some other scientific theory, people tend to forget that theories may be true, but many theories are not.

As I write, I am watching Friends, and coincidentally, in this episode, Ross is trying to convince Phoebe that evolution is fact.

PHOEBE: Ok, look, before you even start, I'm not denying evolution, ok, I'm just saying that it's one of the possibilities.
ROSS: It's the only possibility, Phoebe.
PHOEBE: Ok, Ross, could you just open your mind like this much, ok? Wasn't there a time when the brightest minds in the world believed that the world was flat? And, up until like what, 50 years ago, you all thought the atom was the smallest thing, until you split it open, and this like, whole mess of crap came out. Now, are you telling me that you are so unbelievably arrogant that you can't admit that there's a teeny tiny possibility that you could be wrong about this?

Even if I believe in evolution, I’m well aware of the fact that, “we see things imperfectly, as in a poor mirror” (1 Cor. 13:12).

In my psychology classes, I was endlessly annoyed with the people who did not understand that in psychology of all sciences, it is essential that a person understand that theories are educated guesses. Psychological theories are constantly contradicting each other and being changed and being proven false, but a lot of people do not develop the ability to think critically about theories and make decisions about whether they are plausible or not. Even in the study of evolution, Darwin is not the only theorist. There are several other evolutionary theories taught in other countries, so why should we only teach Darwinism, or even only Darwinism and Evanglical Creationism, or Darwinism and Intelligent Design? God gave us the ability to reason, and if we do not challenge ourselves to think critically, we are guilty of poor stewardship.

When it comes down to it, this whole discussion is important, but not the most important discussion. Science and faith need not be completely separate, but in the end, science does not give birth to faith. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

If we believe that God loves us enough to create a whole world for us, then we should focus more on sharing the love of God. And if we want to share evidence, is not the fact that God empowers us to forgive and love and Jesus did much more compelling than arguments about a seven day creation?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I <3 Advent(ure)

Imagine my excitement when I realized that Advent (my favorite season of the Christian year), and Adventure come from the same root. This discovery started me thinking about the Advent journey. Advent is the season when we prepare for the coming of Christ. Adventure is going out on a journey. We usually think of Advent as a time when we get ready for Christmas and sit at home waiting for Christ to enter our hearts and homes, but in the stories we read during Christmas and Advent, most of the people went out on journeys as a result of hearing that Christ was coming.

When Mary was told that she was going to bear a child through the Holy Spirit, the Bible says, Mary didn't waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah's house, and greeted Elizabeth. She probably went partly because her family was angry that she was pregnant out of wedlock. None of the people in the Christmas story had it easy. They gave up a lot and traveled a long way because they wanted to move closer to Christ.

Pastor Amy preached a sermon a few weeks ago about Advent, and how we use all sorts of things to numb ourselves, especially during the holidays: food, drink, materialism, business, etc. I have been trying to slow down and really savor Advent, to focus my heart and life on moving toward Jesus, but it hasn't worked all that well. For the last few years, the pink candle on the Advent wreath has stood as kind of a yield sign for me. Its the candle we light on the third week of Advent, and every year when we light it I think, "Oh my gosh, its the third week of Advent already and I've hardly experienced it for real. I need to slow down and focus." Of course at that point in December, its really hard to slow down.

Tonight I did some Christmas shopping. I have a lot more to do;
I spent hours and only found one present. I went to the mall and felt so disgusted by the materialism. By the end of the night, I hated the whole gift-giving thing, and not exactly because of the stress factor. I love giving the kind of gifts that people will be excited or happy about. If I buy my brother another sweater, he'll like it and he'll wear it. He might even think of me when he wears it. But those presents take away my time and attention from moving toward Christ, and I don't think its worth that.

My mom keeps asking what else I want for Christmas, and really I can't think of much. I'm not trying to be modest. I'm just feeling so bogged down by stuff. I think my goal for 2006 is going to be to simplify. I want to strip away all of the things that distract me and keep me from hearing and following Christ... extra weight, extra stuff, extra busyness.

I need to get away rid of all this stuff in my life.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

God's Plans are Awesome

Last week I was driving down to the Outer Banks for Thanksgiving, which meant 7 hours of thinking. The drive was actually really nice... me and my music and God. And an hour on the phone with Jackie.

At one point I started thinking about what my life would be like without God. I realized that I couldn't imagine it, because I have been aware of God's presence in my life for as long as I remember. Then, a worse thought occurred to me: What if I chosen to turn away from God? I can think of a few times when my choices would have really changed the course of my life, but only one instance in which the wrong choice would have meant turning away from God. I wouldn't have been able to maintain that path I almost started without moving farther and farther from God. I wouldn't have been able to live out the ministry God wanted me to have while carrying burdens that God never intended for me. I would have tried to bring God with me, but it wouldn't have been possible. God is too big to fit into the small life I imagined for myself.

It is amazing to me that I could have such low ideals for myself. It really reminds me that God's plans for us are so much bigger and better than we can imagine for ourselves. We go chasing after ice cream trucks and God wants to lead us to the Ben and Jerry's factory. (That one's for my Camp friends). My life is so full and blessed right now. Even my struggles are so much more joyful than the problems I used to have. The possibilities that I see, even if they never come to pass, are enough to make up for anything I gave up.

I am so blessed. God has turned my life into a ministry and blessed me with "such a great cloud of witnesses." I have never been so aware of being surrounded by faithful people who love and support me. God really is good.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

-Hebrews 12:1