Friday, September 30, 2011

Examined Christian Faith 'The Final Frontier' Part 1.4 - What is Christianity

Just to set the record straight, I am a fan of science.  I am frequently amazed at some of what science 'discovers', and thankful for some of the benefits of science to humankind.  The field of science is made of some of  the most intelligent and observant people on earth, because that is what science is 'observation'.  Which takes us to considering the universe.  Ever since men have been able to think for themselves, we have been wondering about this universe and how it came to be.  Before I delve into the two different camps, do not fool yourself into thinking that one viewpoint was held long ago, and the other has gradually over a period of recent time taken its position.  No, men have always held two viewpoints on this.  Everyone who has ever thought about it has fallen into one of two camps.  

There are those of the materialist viewpoint or more precisely those who think that it all just happens to exist, that it has always existed.  No one really knows why, it just happened.  Moreover, that this matter, by one in a million chance happened to collide to form our galaxy, and then another something happened to form our sun, and still another to form the planets.  Yet by another fluke, our planet just happened to have the right temperature, and chemical makeup to support life, and then some of this matter on earth that had been floating around forever, just happened to come alive.  Then by another incredibly long chain of events leaving creatures developed into creatures like us, who could think and reason, and have emotions, creatures that also just happened to have an inner voice telling directing each of them to believe in the same concept of right verses wrong. 

Then there is the religious view.  According to those who hold this viewpoint, what is behind the universe, what created the universe is more like a mind then anything else we can describe it as.  It has a purpose and prefers one thing over another.  In addition, it was with this view that it made the universe, for reasons we do not know, but one of the reasons was to create beings like us, who like itself have minds. 

You will also notice that science cannot answer the question, because all science works by experiments, no matter how complicated it is, in the end science is simply a matter of observing what happens when x and y interact.  It does not explain the why it happens to, just that it does.  If like in the “Wizard of Oz” there is, anything behind the curtain is a different question, one that science can never answer.  If you suppose as some do, that some day we will know everything in the universe (I personally do not adhere to that), but I would argue that the questions that we have always asked would still be left unanswered “Why is there a universe?”  “Why does it go on and on as it does?”  “What is the meaning of this?”

However, to understand the answers to that, perhaps we should examine the one thing in the entire universe that we know more about than we can learn by science (the art external observations).  This is my point, anyone who was studying humans from the outside as we do the stars, animals, plants, rocks, etc...  would never guess that we have this law of human nature, this moral law.  He would be observing what we do, so his observations would merely be a reflection of what we did, and the law of human nature is about what we should do. 

The point of this is that in our quest to know if there is a power behind the universe, it would not be one of the things we could observe.  There is only one instant in the entire universe, which we can know weather there is anything more than what can be observed.  Namely our own case, or specifically as it pertains to me, in my case.  As C.S. Lewis said “If there is a controlling power outside of the universe, it would not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe – no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase in that house.”    

The only way in which we should expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way.  As troublesome as it is, that is precisely what we do find inside ourselves, we find that moral law.  In the only case where we can get an answer, the answer turns out to be yes.  

Therefore, in the only instant where I can peek behind the curtain, I find that I do not exist on my own, as any external observation would deduce, but rather that I am under a law, that somebody or something wants me to behave in a certain manner.  Therefore, I can logically reason that as I am under an unseen law, all other matter in the universe is under unseen laws as well (as we can observe) but more importantly I should expect to find that there is a power behind those facts, those laws as well.

So the origin of the universe is either matter or something with a mind.  I personally have a difficult time trying to envision a clump of matter giving instructions, or laws.  You know where I am headed with this, but do not jump ahead of me, I am not talking about the God of Christian theology.  All we have been able to conclude so far, by observing the universe and examining what is unseen within each of us, is that there is in fact a ‘Something’ which is directing the universe, and which it shows itself in me, by giving me a law urging me to do the right thing, and making me feel uncomfortable and responsible when I fail to do so.  

Do not deceive yourself into believing that I am going to propose that the ‘Something’ is cuddly like the puppy dog modern American Christian churches are purporting, Quite the opposite, that ‘Something’ should be feared, as the universe while beautiful is not especially a hospitable place for humans, and the moral law that has been placed inside each of us is as hard as nails.  But I get ahead of myself.  It is time for you to decide which view you hold of the universe, but to me, to propose that all of this is just a matter of chance, a one in a billion long-shot, on top another one in a billion long shot, on top of another one and then to suppose that a clump of matter would instill in me a moral code is simply delusional, and denying what your own moral code tells you.  

If you have never read   THE SHACK  is a great place to begin to realize that not everything can be seen.  Desiring to truly understand 'What is Christianity' is not always easy. .

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