August 20, 2007
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3.4-7
After amusing myself at the expense of scientists and meteorologists last week, it seemed like a good idea to clarify a bit, particularly now that Dean is coming into the Gulf of Mexico and we are all so very grateful for these experts. The problem is not science.
The world of science with its many areas of highly specialized study is good. Any true knowledge is worthwhile, and I personally am deeply indebted to the medical and pharmaceutical researchers. A friend made a tee shirt for me with Higher Quality Living Thru Chemicals emblazoned across the front. Knowledge is good!
Sometimes, we Christians do not help our cause by denying what is obviously accurate. Granted, not everything we are told is “obviously accurate” necessarily is so. But holding a competition between science and faith is a wasted investment of our thought and energy. My intention is never to diminish scientific study. To the contrary, science is, to me, something akin to a multi-faceted mirror reflecting God’s imagination. From the vast to the invisibly miniscule, from the perfect logic of math to the fuzzy exploration of the mind, exploring creation is like opening a window into the mind of God.
The problem is not knowledge itself, but something sinister. If we come to understand a fact, then we believe we have mastered it, and that is mistaken. Some scientists act this way, and that offends we religious types. Knowing how babies come into being makes it no less of a miracle, ultimately not duplicable outside the womb. Explaining how planets orbit suns and moons orbit planets does not make it less surprising that they do. In many ways we stand too close to knowledge to be amazed by it.
Yet, the same thing can be said of much religious knowledge as well. Many are the religious persons who have everything figured out, who understand the ways of God and feel a sense of obligation to tell everyone else. Having encountered Jesus, we presume a measure of certainty and purity born of duped humility.
No, the problem is not knowledge – either of the scientific or religious stripes. The problem is arrogance. We assume too much. We are too confident in what we know and thus fail to grasp the magnitude of what we do not know.
The great allure of knowledge is the possibility of being like God apart from God, of having His knowledge and His wisdom without all the inconvenience of a God to whom we are accountable. Believing that sort of appeal is limited to scientists is practically to jump into the middle of story of the fall. We become the gullible Eve, trusting the serpent that says, “… you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” To have met Jesus is long step from being like Jesus. None of us would claim such moral perfection, but we regularly suppose we possess such intellectual perfection. And we would be wrong.
It is irritating when learned scientists scoff at faith and ridicule belief, but it is no less irritating when Christians scoff at science – or worse, at each other. The problem is not the knowledge we possess but rather the assumption that our own knowledge is sufficient or complete. The first couple in the Garden strove for complete knowledge, and we have been following their example in every ensuing generation.
Habakkuk 2.20 says, “The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.” Every human being should find a place of silence in his life, quiet before the infinite mystery that stretches the chasm between creation and the Lord’s temple.
There is wisdom in silence before God, a wisdom born of humility. For all we know, we do not know much. To the extent that we know God at all, it is because He has chosen to reveal Himself to us. We stand too close to be amazed.
Find a time this week for silence, and look to the holy temple of God. Be in awe that He has given us minds to think, knowledge to grow and life to live. Awe is an appropriate response to God, and we can take time to awaken amazement in the silence.
One other thing: we might start now looking for some way to help our neighbors to the south, as Dean hurtles into their land.
In Christ –
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