“It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
(1 Corinthians 15:44, NIV84)
After all of Clarke’s hard work leading up to our Facts & Faith symposium, I decided to see if I could help out by taking Veracity on the road—to look for evidence of agreement between science and faith. So…
Old earth creationism, young earth creationism, theistic evolution, neo-Darwinism, naturalism, theism, atheism, science versus faith, science and faith—we’ve taken on quite a bit of material in the weeks leading up to the symposium. There seems to be no end to controversies surrounding these topics. Got it. But does any of this stuff really matter?
It is ironic that the three intramural Christian positions on creationism (young earth, old earth, and theistic evolution) all agree that the age of the earth is not essential to the salvation of anyone’s soul. So why does it matter? OK, let’s come at the issue from a less Christian perspective.
Suppose you are sharing your faith with someone who is unfamiliar with Christianity, or has doubts about the claims and content of the Bible. (If you’re not encountering people like this, might it be time to leave your monastery or otherwise get out and meet some real people?) Further suppose that your beliefs are not supported by contemporary science or scientific scholarship. Would you be willing to argue that “science is wrong?” It turns out that many Christians do indeed argue that science teaches things that are contrary to the Bible and that science is wrong. Welcome to the Bible versus science, an unnecessary either-or proposition.
This kind of thinking leads to a great deal of fallout. Rational people get quickly turned off, and many who were raised in the church walk away from Christianity. So now how important are these issues?
Reliable polls repeatedly show that one of the main reasons young people leave the church is that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in,” and that “Christianity is anti-science.” (Please don’t skip the prior hyperlink—there’s a lot of fallout happening.) The really sad part is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Christianity is solidly grounded in reality: it’s all about truth. That truth is testable, and in fact the Bible tells us to put everything to the test (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
The Nature of Bias
Once we know something it tends to stay known. From the most scathing, skeptical atheist to the most ardent Bible-thumping biblicist, most of us have a hard time transforming our opinions. Some of our obstinacy is due to religious bias (and yes, skeptical atheism is a religion). Some of it is due to a preference to go with the herd, which requires loyalty. And some of it is due to a lack of effort—there’s a certain amount of truth to Henry Ford’s statement that most people would rather die than think. But not on this blog; we’re all about thinking and forming your own opinion (as prescribed in Philippians 2:12)
The Apostle Paul and the Nature of Transformation
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2 (NIV84)
Paul had a lot to say about transformation, of the mind and of the body (and by the way there’s that ‘test’ word again). Why do we think that our minds can be transformed, but doubt that our bodies can be transformed?
For a wise perspective on this question I will refer you to an expert, like Dick Woodward (and now you know why we have a dragonfly in the Facts & Faith graphics).
Evidence for bodily transformation is abundant in nature. There’s a popular children’s song that has the lyric, “Bullfrogs and butterflies, they’ve both been born again.” Is this merely a cute piece of music or might there be some valuable insight upon further reflection? Why does God work by processes?
Back to Niagara, Ontario. Yesterday, we went to the Butterfly Conservatory and experienced firsthand the beauty and wonder of these delicate creatures. There was no shortage of flying insects, from the small to the freakishly large (several specimens had wingspans in excess of 10 inches). There were so many butterflies in the conservatory that it seemed we were being attacked Hitchcock style. I tried to get good photos, but that’s quite a challenge with bright backlighting and happy butterflies flapping and flopping about.
Butterflies experience three transformations between the four stages in their life cycle. We were all taught about this remarkable metamorphosis at an early age, and most of us take it for granted. But if you stop and think about it, the transformations in a butterfly are evidence of a God who works by processes, and who is big on transformations. Sometimes the simplest examples are the most profound.
Facts & Faith Symposium
Clarke and I will be participating in a Facts & Faith symposium (along with Ken Petzinger, Dave Rudy, Dick Terman, and David Thompson) at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, Sunday evenings November 10, 17, and 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm. Please see our post on the symposium for details, and please bring a friend if you’re in the Williamsburg, Virginia area. Click here to register (it’s free).
HT: Dick Woodward, Clarke Morledge, Dave Rudy