Sunday, November 17, 2013

Out of Creation

This week I experienced a conflation (i.e., fusing--sorry, I need to get out more often) of three media inputs (two books and a movie).  I just finished Gerald Schroeder's The Science of God.  This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand the proper relationships between science and the Bible.  Dr. Schroeder does a bang up job of explaining difficult scientific concepts to the uninitiated--a rare talent, indeed.  He goes a long way to show how neither the Bible nor science can prove the existence of God; but shows how the more science learns, the more difficult it becomes for it to deny the existence of God.  Dr. Schroeder does an excellent job of exegesis of the first chapter of Genesis, which alone is worth the price of the book.  And even though I concur with much of Schroeder's theology, I find him stumbling over the stumbling stone of Christ.  It may not be his intention, but after reading his book, I came away with the feeling that if humankind studies the universe long enough, humankind will find the Shalom with God--that is, justice will eventually come with our understanding of creation. Putting it another way, my impression is Dr. Schroeder is suggesting--and I could be misinterpreting him--we can find peace through creation.

I got to thinking about this because of something Dr. Wolterstorff said in his book Journey Toward Justice, which I had finished before reading Dr. Schroeder's book and therefore is the second member of my three media conflation.  As if commenting on what I believe Dr. Schroeder was advocating, here is what Dr. Wolterstorff said,

"Fundamental to modernity is a blending and secularizing of the story lines of Scripture in such a way that there is thought to be good ground within the natural order for expecting that society will someday be liberated from injustice and we will all flourish until we die full of years.  A few scientists have even speculated that a  technology will eventually be discovered that halts aging, thereby eliminating death due to old age.  Those who successfully dodge fatal accidents will retain the vigor, the agility, the curiosity,the libido, of a twenty-five-year-old.

This is optimism grounded in creation, not hope grounded in God." [N. P. Wolterstorff, Journey Toward Justice. Baker Academic (2013), p. 235.]

He is absolutely correct.  It is true we lack knowledge, or more importantly, we lack wisdom needed to bring Shalom.  But we cannot find this wisdom in creation because to believe so assumes the problem is only our ignorance; it's not.  There is something more fundamental blocking Shalom than just our ignorance. Here is where the third source of input to my week came in.

Every so often my wife and I hold a 50's Sci-Fi movie night at our home.  She usually purchases theatre style boxed candies such as Milk Duds, Junior Mints, and the like.  She also pops popping corn and doles it out to the guests in miniature pop corn containers reminiscent of the day.  We always start with a Loonie Toons cartoon, and then watch the main feature. Well, this weekend we had friends over for a double-feature.  We began with Porky Pig and Daffy Duck in The Ducksters and followed up with The Thing and Forbidden Planet.  It was after watching Forbidden Planet this present blog came together--the conflation I have been alluding to.

The story-line of Forbidden Planet is the discovery of a planet once occupied by the Krell.  The Krell had lived millions of years prior to the time of the story and had evolved their society over a couple of million years through technological and scientific advancement into a state of Shalom.  However, when they looked to eliminate all instrumentality from their existence (i.e., operate purely mentally) they rediscovered the truth that despite all their advancement there still remained deep in the core of their psyche, the id.  The id is of course the remnant of animal barbarism left over from their evolution from the primitive--or so says Freud. For this reason the Krell ended up destroying themselves, leaving only a powerful yet powerless technology for posterity.

The story of the Krell steers us to the fundamental barrier I mentioned above.  The barrier is the fact--despite popular belief to the contrary--humankind is not basically good, rather humankind is basically evil.  But this evil did not arise in us because of our primitive roots; even Dr. Schroeder asserts this fact by recognizing that humankind differs from their ancestors by virtue of the fact that God breathed His image into them.  No, humankind became evil because it chose to disengage itself from God who is the only source of goodness because only He is good.  The hubris of Adam and Eve was they could be good--that is, they could muster up the wisdom to keep Shalom--from within themselves--from creation.

Do you hear what I heard from these three seemingly disparate pieces of media?  Evil entered into humankind and therefore into the world because we believed we could find wisdom through creation! The revelation shines a whole new light on what Paul meant in his letter to the Romans:

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes--His eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made.  So people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks, but became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles." [Rom. 1:18-23 (NET)]

And justice continues to elude us because we continue to believe we will find Shalom through creation; it just isn't so, because such wisdom only resides in God.

Our only hope to Shalom we all seek is to reestablish the intimate relationship with God we were created to have and indeed must therefore have to truly live, which is Shalom.  And only God could make this possible for us because our evil blinds us to the truth.  And God has accomplished this through His son Jesus the Christ.  Failure to recognize this final and absolutely necessary piece to the puzzle of restored humankind is the stumbling block I mentioned earlier.

If we want to find the wisdom Dr. Schroeder recognizes we need, we must as Dr. Wolterstorff so beautifully explains move out of creation, because we are inherently evil as the Krell learned too late for their civilization.  To find Shalom we must leap out of creation and into the loving arms of Jesus--into the new creation that is His eternal kingdom.