Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fact versus Faith

A while back I posted about the Intelligent Design/Evolution debate, and was reminded of it today when I read an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal about a Creation Museum that'll be opening up in Northern Kentucky (by Cincinnati) sometime next year. It will have a re-creation of Noah's ark, as well as an explanation of how humans lived alongside dinosaurs.

The closing quote of the article?
John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, an organization that promotes creationism, said the museum will affirm the doubts many people have about science, namely the notion that humans evolved from lower forms of life. "Americans just aren't gullible enough to believe that they came from a fish," he said.
Now, to give some different context, the museum founder Ken Ham is quoted earlier as saying:
"If the Bible is the word of God, and its history really is true, that's our presupposition or axiom, and we are starting there."
Ken Ham gives us his bias, and tells us up front from what direction he is approaching this project: Coming from a faith background that says that scripture is true, then this is what we see. John Morris, on the other hand, makes a generalized statement that kind of backfires on him, in my mind.

Here's the thing. In case you missed it, I'm a Christian. True, I'm a Catholic, and some folks might say that this means I'm not a Christian, but I'm not here to argue that point. As such, I believe in God, Jesus, the bible, and all that other stuff. So I'm theoretically coming from the same direction as these guys.

However, there's one tiny little detail that Morris seems to forget as he speaks on behalf of "Americans" .....

It's called faith.

Just to clarify .... the Catholic understanding of scripture is that they contain religious meaning as opposed to historical meaning. In other words, we look at the deeper meaning of the story — what is this story trying to tell us? What message is the author wanting to convey? For example, some stories have Jesus feeding 5,000 people, while others say 4,000, and the number of fish & bread varies. The question I put to my kids is: Does it matter? What if Jesus actually fed 3,742 people? Would your faith be shattered? They thought I was being absurd; of course not. The number is a detail; it doesn't change the basic idea of the story.

While there are all sorts of situations in the New Testament that point to issues with an exactly historical account, my immediate question for those who view the Bible as an engineering logbook starts right in the very beginning. You wanna talk creation? Then what came first — the world or the people?

Back in the spring, when the articles came out that maybe Jesus walked on ice instead of water, I remember being very struck by one of the responses in the article: If you need miracles to prop up your faith, then maybe your faith is weak to begin with. As I pointed out the detail of Peter's failure to walk on the water ice, my kids wondered how the boat got out there in the first place. Was their faith destroyed by the possibility? Of course not. In fact, Jesus often refuses "miracles on demand" because he's not just about performing magic tricks. And let's not forget about the whole "Blessed are those who have not seen" .....

But the thing of it is ..... it's faith. It's about what I believe, what I hold to be my truth, or at least my understanding of it. There's no proof for any of it. That's what this whole "faith" thing is all about. As Paul puts it: "Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for that which is seen?"

Faith is about mystery. It's about trust. It's about holding in our heart that which we may not logically comprehend in our mind. Answers.com defines faith as a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. So, if you've got the evidence, then it's not faith. For me, then, faith rests on neither proving nor disproving the historical accuracy of any given detail.

All of which has gotten me horribly off-track from where I was intending to go .... and it's late .... and I'm really hoping I haven't come across as a horrible heritic or anything like that .... but it's hard to think straight right now and have myself make sense ..... so I'll just get back to Creation-dude ......

I would like to ask Mr. Morris to step back from his faith for a moment, and try to view this whole debate through a lens other than that of his Christian background. Without the benefit of that faith perspective, how does his viewpoint look?

Which takes more "gullibility" — the scientific evidence that supports a logical progression of gradual improvement and perfection, or legends out of some book that can't even get its story straight about what was created when?

I don't remember how it's been asked, but I know my kids have somehow referred to the question of the texts of other faith traditions and are they just "stories" ..... and I point out that it's all in the perspective. They may view the Book of Mormon as "something someone wrote"; yet, as I point out to them, that is how perhaps Judaism may view the New Testament.

One man's sacred text is another man's story?

Mr. Ham points out his perspective .... Coming from this faith background, this is what I am presenting. Mr. Morris ..... loses credibility with his assumptions about everyone else's perspective.

Regardless .... could be an interesting place to visit.


Blogger Lisa said...

Very well put, Steph!

8/02/2006 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto! You have a wonderful gift for layin' it out there. I'd LOVE to be a fly on the wall in your classroom!

8/03/2006 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was very intrigued by the following comment you made:

But the thing of it is ..... it's faith. It's about what I believe, what I hold to be my truth, or at least my understanding of it. There's no proof for any of it. That's what this whole "faith" thing is all about. Faith is about mystery. It's about trust. It's about holding in our heart that which we may not logically comprehend in our mind.

This is not my experience of faith at all. For me faith flows not from my attempt to understand an external reality that is a mystery or beyond comprehension...but from truth revealed to me by Jesus Christ through the scriptures, sacred tradition and through His presence in those around me. My "faith" is not my interpretation of...but my response to this truth.

This truth, however, is not in the number of folks fed...or whether or not there are surfboards in heaven...but that God is Love (Deus Catitas Est!)..and His love is for us, and ever faithful.

And how should we respond to this truth...how can we be faithful??? Easy...Lord, not mine but your will be done! LIVE YOUR LIFE ACCORDING TO HIS WILL!

For me this is faith...the assurance of the truth that God love's me and my response to seek, and live my life, according to His will.

8/03/2006 9:54 PM  

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