Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fear & Selfish Egos Will Cause Children to Chose Between Facts or Faith

Recently, a brilliant Christian friend of mine, placed the following article within their social topics of interest:

"The scientific narrative actually points to a deeper narrative, which is that of God himself.” (Dr. Alister McGrath). The BioLogos Forum brings together some of the brightest minds in science today, this is refreshing and much needed challenge to the Evangelical community."

Thanks for sharing this video snippet and article! It opens strong with, Dr. John Polkinghorne: “The doctrine of creation isn’t about how things began, it’s about why things exist, what holds the world in being. The Christian belief is that it is the will of God that holds the world in being.”

As well, it closes with such a crucial point! “I don’t want people abandoning the faith because they find out that evolution is really real. It is God’s truth. So here we have this segment, this all-important segment of God’s people, who are out of touch with God’s reality. I mean, it is God’s universe! This natural world is God’s creation—and so the people, who especially need to be in touch with God’s reality, are off in a corner.”

So the question is quite a hot topic for discussion: Can the Evangelical community embrace actual scientific narratives?

Unfortunately, as we head forward on this topic; we must keep in mind the following psychological tendencies:
Common Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.
The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.

Far to many American, Protestant, Christian's thrive or gain purpose and meaning from the thought that they are standing strong in the face of mounting persecutions! Unfortunately, to this end, countless believers are therefor inspired and actually insist, (and are unfortunately teaching their children) disproved notions, like the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old! All in the name of defending what they believed to be an interpreted history of story of creation form the book of Genesis.

Given the fact Science has continued throughout history to advance our understanding of the Earth and its position within the universe; (Take a look at this past Blog, "To Much Potential") children within households being taught to deny current scientific facts are much more likely to face countless, serious, adolescent crisis when finally made aware of current facts. Such rude awakenings will undoubtedly lead to more than just questioning of one's faith. More likely, those victimized by such narrow minded, mislead, "sheltered", naive theology will unfortunately struggle with and often commit to disavowing their a seemingly, irrelevant, childhood/ish faith entirely. It would be so much more prudent and healthy for children to be taught how readily available scientific facts can and should coexist within their faith, they

There are few things more tragic, not to mentioning more damaging to the future of the Christian church, than those parents (who are in some cases unwittingly,) making their children chose between facts or faith. I so respect those parents who are able to let go of their own pride, or perhaps their own personal need to feel they are "defending their God" and undergoing imaginary persecutions in the name of their love for Him.

Fear of the Unknown:
Perhaps many Christian's continue be fearful of today's science simply because they feel they can never take the time necessary to understand all of the research which is available to those wishing to grasp more complex topics. Therefor they feel they must find a trust, or "faith" as it were in it's resulting facts.

So this fear or denial of facts, is more accurately centered around a notion that "believers" can not place their faith in anything but God. As a result they choose to fear what they do not understand when ever man is the source of such confusing or complex facts and topics.

Again, this fear is based on a "loyal" feeling, one suggesting they should only maintain a blind faith (or any faith) in those things which they can understand God is directly involved in. This creates a most unfortunate paradox, when you consider it prevents any such believes from trusting much of anything beyond their own understanding, experience and/or education; unless it is that of theological topics centered around their faith, which they then choose to accept as a mystery God has not yet chosen to reveal the "truth and understanding" for. This perceived expectation of trust in, or faith towards, a science, is confused as a direct challenge to their faith and loyalty to God.

It is truly an odd paradox and very upsetting struggle for many; Choosing to form a prejudice against something in the name of your faith in God. Choosing to loose site of valid, scientific facts presented to us daily within our modern society, feeling the vast amounts of related research are far to lengthy or complicated to understand and therefor arguing the results are potentially a persecution against ones faith in God. All of these fears motivations are worthy of personal introspection, in order to help unravel and let go of.
There are many reasons within any society, modern or ancient, that people often fear what they don't understand. Many of those within Religious categories make the irrational assumption that something not understood is therefor evil. Such narrow minded thinking plagues our society to this day, with what must be described the most destructive social vices of human history; that of extreme prejudices against those whom are different from us, or have an different understanding than us.

Topics centered around scientific facts, as well as countless others, are certainly not immune from such damaging fears and faith-based prejudice.
Definition: A prejudice is a prejudgment, an assumption made about someone or something before having adequate knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy.

I find it shameful when a faith, based on Grace and Atonement, fails to serve as a Faith which understands and accepts it's own ignorance or need to learn. Faith should encourage us to embrace humility openly; rather than pridefully defend inaccurate positions. Additionally, such faithful believers must work to convey to such peers a God which is not the source of fears, prejudisim and skepticism's of other's.

Shunning or doubting, simply because discussions and topics present facts, research, science and theories; which a typical, faithful believer may know very little about; is just not acceptable or productive towards the advancement of ideas, learning or faith.  Nor are such typical, "causes for concern" involving science, within the average layperson grasp, education level, field of expertise or thorough understanding.  Therefor, any individual's struggle between science and faith, must avoid at all cost, accepting fear based terms or categories such as, "good science" or "bad science", as a guide or reason to relate, condone or dismiss and potentially retaliate an opportunity to learn and grow one's knowledge.

Why would anyone believing in a God, whom is described as being "beyond their own comprehension", choose to disbelieve and explain away the nature of our planets existence and history, through unfounded claims that scientist are lying to us or to themselves. None of these ENORMOUS beliefs should coexist with such NARROW thinking! Nor should, relentless, fear based prejudice and pride-filled desires recklessly act as if they are defending a "truth", when all that is being shamefully, insecurely postured is a defiant, dismissive attitude towards real facts and/or sound science based on current and growing knowledge within a viable field of study.

Poor Ministries:
Few Evangelical Christians ever hear sermons as well rounded and with the breadth and understanding of ministries such as the one delivered in the following video. If more sermons would approach responsible, modern day learning and interpretations in this manor, who knows how the Christian church might be flourishing, and who knows what additional depth our sciences would rise to, or these levels of intelligent discussion one might witness regularly within many more modern Christian congregations.

Untitled from BioLogos Foundation Inc on Vimeo.
Believing God is Threatened:
Is science really EVER a threat to sovereignty? How could that EVER be so? Isn't that very notion simply a form of human arrogance and ego? The human desire to defend, to wage war, to battle a viewpoint. We should not attempt to live a life a Faithful followers of an almighty all knowing God, and then reduce him down to the complexities and the conceivable bickering's of our own human minds and our own limited imaginations.

In an article entitled "The Backfire Effect", such backwards tendencies are summarized as the following physiological activities:
"Once something is added to your collection of beliefs, you protect it from harm. You do it instinctively and unconsciously when confronted with attitude-inconsistent information. Just as confirmation bias shields you when you actively seek information, the backfire effect defends you when the information seeks you, when it blindsides you. Coming or going, you stick to your beliefs instead of questioning them. When someone tries to correct you, tries to dilute your misconceptions, it backfires and strengthens them instead. Over time, the backfire effect helps make you less skeptical of those things which allow you to continue seeing your beliefs and attitudes as true and proper."

Quite the psychosis, and quite definitely a rebellious psychology none of us should want to be guilty of.  Certainly not when discussing and advancing our own beliefs in our faith of the Almighty, the maker of Heaven and Earth. Do such psychological tendencies perhaps beg the question; or in actuality pose an answer, as to why Christian's, (or any other religious, social or political group) are so susceptible at times to inaccurate thinking, rather than inerrant truths?  After all, stagnation and/or a rebellion towards new knowledge was never a theological goal of the Gospels.

Seemingly Unaware of Current Tools:
As for the children of these faithful, faith-filled believers; how else can they reconcile what they have been taught as "truth", once they realize they have been misled on so many scientific points? Not to mention, much of these "fundamental" believers are standing on what they believe to be the "inerrant word of God"; which then requires you question the entire text if you believe any of it to not mean the interpretation you have been taught. A truly horrible paradox for this young, impressionable audiences.

We live in an information age, an age of true knowledge dissemination on a level never before seen. While persecution is a reality for millions of non-Americans, around the world; We often witness many Christians in the U.S., gravitate towards areas of controversy simply so we can feel we have shown our love for God through the defense of false persecutions. This is often fueled and justified through a theology thanks to the continual presence of sin, you must always be on the lookout for and defend against, any and all "secular" notions or origins of thought.

This resulting distortion of facts and even paranoia, not only effects the way many Christian's now vote, and the resulting irrelevance of certain, politicized, modern topics of controversies, they now passionately cling to; but also their ability blatantly denial of countless scientific facts. Mind you, these are scientific facts which God's gift providing us this life in such a rich, modern, capable country has made each of us generously privy to. Just shameful to not find thanks for each area and category of these many blessings!

(This is a topic I have obviously struggled with and spent far to many years toiling over, given my own struggle and transition during college from that of a Religion Major, preparing for the ministry; to that of Physics, geared towards computer engineering. Since those days, the entire text where related to Physics and Astronomy has under gone a true renascence in advancements; while so many, if not MOST of my Christians friends along the way, have often missed out on this incredible era of research and revelation due to a fear of it's conflicts with faith.)

An Evangelism Which Actually Destroys Progress:
It does so little to expand a movement of Christianity within our, informed, modern country; to denying indisputable facts based on reliable science. It completely and utterly destructive when one considers each of our believer's children need only turn to their smart phones for the actual FACTS of; Microbiology, Physics, Astronomy, Genetics, you name it! And it is an odd misconception that something is a disputable fact, simply because a group chooses to dispute it.

Science, freely admits when a fact is not proven, this is the nature of all scientific methodologies. However, the modern field of science also avoids wasting its' time addressing groups which offer disputes, if and when they are unqualified and technically incapable of challenging previously published results. Life is far to short, and budgets far to tight for legitimate scientific organizations to waste time on such odd social tendencies.

It is unfortunately the responsibility therefor of the Christian community itself to police the fallacies often propagated within the modern Christian Church. One such example of a Christian organization working to unravel many of, shall we say, the more ignorant and therefore damaging testimony's now circulating within the church is, The BioLogos Foundation.
One of their recently released video's attempts to address the recent trend of using the term and pseudoscience of "Intelligent Design" as a platform for discussing God's role in our current evolution. You can imagine how frustrating it is, to depend on the financial backing of even more Christians, in order to try and advance the thinking of Fundamentalist Christian. All in an attempt to prevent further damage to the sanctity, sanity and growth of the Christian movement. Tough job, but someone clearly has GOT TO DO IT!

Other's Simply Don't Respect This Foolish Discussion:
Perhaps it is indeed, ironic, the scientist own lack of grace and patients for this section of society, which future fuels Christian's stance of "persecution"? You can certainly understand why scientific organization have no funding, nor desire to relate to; or pay homage and therefor dignify groups; whom are not seemingly capable of looking towards factual information, versus theology to guide and direct their "understanding" of facts. Not to mention there is so little "passions" directed at refuting Christian's uninformed claims in these ares of science, since such disputes do very little towards gaining additional funding or private and government support. Further perpetuating, some Christian's mistaken interpretation of "shutting the other side up", finding validity in the scientific community's lack of attention or blatant resistance.

Perhaps the prayer which should be continually offered by more informed Christian's; those capable and willing to embrace scientific facts along side faith; must pray, more Scientist taking the time to help and inform this sub-culture of well-meaning, faith based, believers. Through an attempt to respect and approach their VERY different approaches to life, long enough to share how research and definitive approaches to scientific methodologies and resulting test and facts are derive through the progressions of all scientific fields and bodies of research.

However, even as I write this, I think of those countless folks, whom we all know, which will simply never be receive such scientific facts or reason. Again, they feel they are defending a persecution of faith, and God is counting on them to ward off these miss-guided challenges to His will and truth. Mighty powerful position in one's psyche to over come. We can all see shy the scientist capable of "shedding light" don't bother.

Bullets Dodged:
I often say, thank goodness folks don't interpret Genesis as a guide to the truth within the medical field or civil engineering. Many more lives would be at risk each day. Fortunately, their current qualms with Micro-Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Geology, Astronomy, Physics, etc., haven't cost near as many daily lives yet. And countries like ours are still wise enough to continue minimal funding for such research and exceptional advances in each of these fields. But much more needs to be done.

Beyond the slowing or blatant damage ever actually caused to advancements in crucial ares of science through any naive cross-section of voters; it simple saddens me, when well-meaning folks, act as if Genesis offers us a record which explains how any science lies! Since they are misunderstanding that crucial opening point about the doctrine of creation; and again, creating a paradox which I'm certain so many 21st century children will have an impossible time reconciling, once they are more mature and more factually knowledgeable. And who's family will ever benefits by such division and late adolescent "searching", once outside of their parents trust, leadership and wisdom?

Beating a Dead Horse:
Sorry to shed once again such a naive stricken tendency on the Evangelical Christian movement; given my previous blog entry, discussing the bizarre tendency and brilliant targeting of those willing to vote for a Pro-War political party within a Federal election, the name of Pro-life and anti Gay marriage issues; which are actually always governed by our individual States. "No Lemmings in Heaven"

However, there simply must be a movement, an education, towards unraveling such irrational contradictions and reasons for faith, false interpretations and misguided morality. It is quite possible, the primary immorality such antics will one day be known for, is that of riotous indignation based on ridiculous denial of the most basic and obvious facts. Surely this is not the goal of Fundamentalist?

At least I didn't title this blog, "Making FUN of DA MENTAL approach, to Fun-da-mental Christianity." It was under strong consideration. -jk-

Perhaps, I need to take a good lesson on sugar coating my mutually, lovingly intentioned banters? Naa - life's to short. This blog entry was long enough! Any potential audience of young Christians are already confused enough.

Time for some much needed straight shooting!