Surprises

Yesterday was a day for surprises both depressing and encouraging.

 

First, a coworker/friend who calls himself a Christian revealed his belief that the Bible is fallible and that God is spirit, not necessarily a person.  God is the ultimate source of love and goodness, he said.  This was a pleasant surprise to me– and also served as a reminder not to make assumptions about people’s beliefs.  I asked him more about what he believed, and he wasn’t very specific.  I’m not sure if it’s because he’s agnostic at heart, or because he didn’t know, or maybe he wouldn’t say.  I had to ask him something along the lines of, “If you don’t believe that the Bible is the revealed, inspired, infallible word of God, and you don’t believe God is a person, what makes you then call yourself a Christian?”  I put it in gentler terms, but maybe I was too vague and he didn’t understand what I was asking.  We talked a lot about truth, and the possibility of God revealing truth versus people reaching for an ultimate truth (and failing). 

 

The conversation started because he brought over a little video he’d downloaded about Hell.  Hell, in his view, is a place we end up not because an ultimate being judged us and sent us to Hell, but a place we send ourselves based on our own actions toward our community.  Did we love; did we serve; did we seek truth?  But I get the feeling that my friend was assuming that without belief in a divine source of some kind, we have no access to this source of love and beauty and truth– and therefore we cannot love.  I rather doubt it; he’s very thoughtful and non-dogmatic.  But I think it’s somewhere in his belief system; perhaps he is unaware of it.

 

Then I happened to remember Dawkins saying, in a video I’d watched on YouTube the night before, that “If God is simple, if God is limited, if he is the Universe rather than the controller of the Universe, then what’s the point of calling him God and worshiping him?  And if God is complex and powerful and intervening, then he doesn’t exist.”

 

It went something like that.  I thought it was very funny and well-put.  And I’d never watched Dawkins speak before; he’s not the best speaker, but he does have interesting things to say, and good visual aids– he does powerpoints very well; it’s an easy thing to screw up on– and he gets this little smile on his face sometimes that’s funny; like, “Yeah, I just said that!  What now?”  And the audience laughs and claps.

 

Back to my surprises: the second one was depressing.  One of my old Christian friends asked the question, “Why is Creationism an issue of the separation of church and state?”

 

Are you kidding me?

 

So I told him.  I hope he gets it.  He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed… nice guy, but you know… some people just don’t care about science, or government, or the Constitution, or rights and freedom.  I guess there’s nothing morally wrong with that, but at the very least you really should know that you don’t know, and then, if you want to inform yourself later, you can. 

 

And I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said that education is the foundation of a democracy.  Makes you wonder how things could be different, doesn’t it.

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