Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why Faith Needs Science

This morning, my wife called it "The Crazy Channel."

When it's time to wake up, I prefer getting it over and done with.  My phone alarm is the loudest and most annoying possible claxon.  And the clock radio by my bed is set not to the treacly sounds of smoov jazz or gentle classical, but to a Christian talk radio program.

That gets me up and motivated to turn off the radio, because the conversation makes me crazy.  Why?  Because I care about the teachings of Jesus, and the version I hear in the morning is, without question, completely insane.

The focus is invariably the End Times, and how they are almost immediately upon us.  Earnest callers talk with an earnest host, interpreting the shapes and patterns of their dog's most recent bowel movement as yet another indication that the Rapture is coming this next Thursday.

Well, not usually.  But that's not far off.

What's most distressing about listening in on this kind of Jesus conversation is knowing the impact it has on folks who are not Christian.  If you do not already view the Bible as the rule of life and faith, then listening in to the in-group chatter of a community that seems not to inhabit reality won't be compelling.  It will be disturbing.

Here, we're not talking "in the world but not of the world."  We're not talking about "now and not yet."    We're not talking about being a people oriented towards transcending ourselves and transforming the world towards God's most gracious intent.

The fundamentalist worldview simply does not describe creation.   It is utterly detached from what God has worked in the universe, and that has impacts on how Christianity is viewed.   If your interpretation of existence bears no resemblance whatsoever to what an objective observer can rationally defend, then sharing your message becomes a challenge.

For folks who aren't "in," things like a six-thousand-year-old universe are no less wackadoodle than the teachings of the Raelians.

If we're going to have a compelling message, Jesus folk need to engage with reality, and to do so in a way that is coherent and relevant.  Listening to the witness of creation itself is not a bad way to start.