Trouble with being Christian: Science!

Today, more confessions about this awkward Christian thing.

As I try to live an authentic life after the example of Jesus, in a world that mostly has no interest in Jesus, there’s hardly anything that pains me more than the weird and schizophrenic dialogue between conservative Christians and the modern realm of science.

Let’s be clear — I am a conservative in my theology.

That is, I believe there really is an immense, supernatural, loving God, who incarnated in a real person, Jesus, and he did some stuff, and it was for the goal of reconciling the whole world of mankind to himself. I believe this God also inspired various people to write a scattered anthology of letters and poems, which has become known as the Bible … but honestly sometimes I’m still figuring out what that means, or how I’m supposed to respond to that. Meanwhile, I don’t think that the supernatural stuff was only for the past, but instead I have actually seen that a lot of weird crazy things still happen today — stuff that ventures outside the realm of what our empirical theories can explain. So yeah, you might say that I am one of the “crazies”.

But, I have a deep deep love for the scientific exploration of our world. I love physics. I love geology. I think the theory of evolution is beautiful. I think the physical scale of the universe, as unveiled by modern astronomy, is eye-opening and fantastic. And speaking of astronomy, to take a simple and direct route — I know and understand that today we are receiving radiation from distant galaxies that are not mere hundreds or thousands of light years away, but billions of light years away. I also know that those distances have been estimated using relatively simple theoretical building blocks, and that the reasoning is quite straightforward. I also know that we know with a lot of certainty that light rays travel at a very specific speed.

What I’m saying is … I know and understand that we are receiving light rays that are billions of years old by the time they reach us.

And this is an immense problem for a whole lot of Christians. It’s not a problem for me to be honest. But it becomes my problem because a lot of Christians insist that the age of our universe is around 6000 years … which they have deduced by adding up the lifetimes of men in the book of Genesis, and tacking that total onto the seven literal days of creation.

So this disagreement is their problem really, but it becomes my problem because a lot of Christians will tell me that I’m not being submissive to the Word, or not surrendering my modern views, and that somehow therefore I am abandoning my post as a believer. And I hate that. Unfortunately, we do this a lot — Christians are always insisting that their own reading (and reasoning) on the Bible is the right way, and we just can’t seem to get past that one. ‘He said, she said’ kind of thing.

In fact, many of you reading this are probably already pissed off, because you fall right into the demographic described above. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to piss you off … well okay, to be honest I like ruffling your feathers a little bit. “Is that so wrong?” he said sheepishly.

I understand and concede that the great edifice of human scientific inquiry has failed us before, like in the cases of geocentrism or spontaneous generation. Many conservative believers will say that our present cosmological models are doomed to the same eventual fate, and so they’ll simply wait it out with a smug grin. Or worse, they’ll research and trumpet so-called Creation Science as an alternate proof … BUT I’m afraid that nobody in the whole world (outside the Christian bubble) thinks that Creation Science is actually real science. The energy required to put the theory together is mostly wasted, in my view. I wish Creation Scientists would go save some orphans or feed the poor, instead of putting all this effort into proving a Young Earth hypothesis. (he said smugly)

Anyway. The problem boils down to this — I believe in a God who is by definition unfalsifiable, and thus essentially outside the reach of science. But, there are not necessarily rules as to how I’m supposed to believe in Him, or in what way I’m supposed to believe the things written in the Bible. Granted, lots of Christians claim there are rules to this belief thing; and they will cite parts of the Bible as undeniable proof that we have to believe in the Bible in a certain way. But that, unfortunately, is a circular argument, and won’t hold water. Ask other Christians how they handle this Bible thing, and you’ll get a variety of different answers (as indicated in some recent posts).

Meanwhile, the outside world is looking at us going “Are you guys effing serious?” I’m sorry for that. I know it’s silly. We’ve already been over this. The notion of God is undeniably absurd when viewed through the lens of our modern civilization — I get that. I can’t blame you for incredulity. But listen, I’m trying really hard to actually pay attention and use my brain, too.

I acknowledge that there are probably some clear, glaring, unresolved conflicts between science and the narratives presented in the Bible. But, I also think it does nobody any good at all for conservative Christians to just crank up the volume and yell at the world NO YOU’RE WRONG SCIENCE IS WRONG EVERYBODY IS WRONG BECAUSE WE’RE RIGHT, LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING TO YOUUUU.

So if anyone ever catches me saying something like that … please do me a solid and slap me in the face. Woopsie.

I don’t believe Jesus ever yelled like that at anybody, and I wish today’s Christians would stop doing it too. Just my $0.02 for the day.

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