[The American Years]

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Return

*Small note. Three apologies before I start. 1) Been a long time. Sorry. 2) No photos of the kids, and no real update on our life. Sorry. 3) Kind of a lame post follows. Sorry. I'm out of practice.

Yes indeed we have returned from Japan, nearly two months ago now. And I have so much that I want to write about that I can't get myself to start.

At first I thought I would just go through the last bits of photos and videos and fun from our last weeks in Japan, and finish this thing off. Now I know that just won't do.

There is a lot about the US, and about the area in which we live now, which is notable. (Blog-worthy is a term which has been outlawed by international decree, so I prefer 'notable'.)

Take for instance the fact that there is now a place called the "Creation Museum". And it's in Kentucky. And it's in the very county (Boone County, KY) into which we are now moving. And people pay money to go to it. And people paid lots of money to put it in. Millions of dollars. There's a blog topic right there.

Next, the Hot Brown sandwich. Another topic right there.

And Cincinnati chili.

And fat people. They have them here in America. I had nearly forgotten.

So anyway, this is just a note to break my own silence, and to get the ink flowing again. This is more a note to myself than to anyone else. I'm telling my inner dude that it's okay to go on. It's okay to write a little bit and allow it to suck. It's okay to continue. The dawn will come. The day will break. And there will always be someone with a wackiness, be it in the greater Cincinnati area or in Japan, which deserves comment.

Quick one one the Creation museum. My challenge in writing about it is to not get mean. I need to respect that people in the readership might well believe everything that's held in that museum.

My biggest problem with it is that it's wasteful. I mean to say, that nobody is going to be convinced by it. It is an example of preaching to the choir. If I believe the museum's message, it doesn't serve me (and may actually disserve me -- more on that later). If I disagree with the museum's treatment of natural history, I'm not going to go, and I'll more strongly think that people of faith are crazy.

Let's face it, people of faith are crazy. All faiths have their wackiest fringe elements. And it's those elements which regrettably make the evening news.

Protestant Christians have crazy televangelists sponging money off old people and people making museums featuring dinosaurs on Noah's ark.

Catholics have people traveling hundreds of miles to kneel in adoration of a piece of toast with an image of Mary on it. And on a more sinister side, they have men of the cloth who horribly mistreat young men and women.

Think of a Buddhist and you are going to think of a bald man in a robe.

And the raging example is that there are a few thousand Muslims in a religion of millions and millions who are all we think of when we think of a Muslim.

Identifying a religion by its fringes is what TV is good at.

And this museum in Boone County, Kentucky, new home of yours truly, take Christians and presents them as unthinking lunatics, on a par with flat-earthers.

Let me sum something up for people on both sides of this so-called debate.

Creation and/or evolution? We don't know. We can't know. I think it doesn't matter.

If you are a Christian, or a believer of any type, you should believe that God has publicly revealed what He intended to reveal. Different faiths have different things that they include in that revelation. If God had deemed it to be important, he would have spelled it out. There would have been prophets, burning bushes, skywriting... something to tell us that it is important.

We can't prove God exists by looking at fossils. And, we can't prove He doesn't.

(Here's the disservice part.) If I believe it wholesale, it makes me a one-track defender of the faith, not allowing for different opinions on how we all got here.

By framing the argument about the existence of God around strict Creationism like this museum does, Christians deter people of scientific leaning from pursuing faith at all.

Let's say I'm a secular humanist, no Christian leanings at all. One day I hear about a Christian person doing something completely wonderful for humanity. Say, Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity, or World Vision and hungry people. Mother Theresa in Calcutta. Chuck Colson helping and befriending prisoners. I think, "Golly, that's great. I'd like to build houses for people who need them. I'd like to help my fellow humans."

Then I hear about this Creation museum. "Wow, Christians are downright bass ackwards!"

My civic righteousness which could have blossomed into true faith has been nipped in the bud. I go back to playing playstation, reading GQ and decide to make the study and drinking of wine my new religion.

For people of all faiths, please DON'T ACT CRAZY! You'll not make many converts.

In my view, the simple and shocking truth of Christianity is that we're supposed to love people when we don't want to. It's what makes us human. We feel a call to be kind to the next fellow, even though it is not a biological imperative. It's not an instinct like the instinct to eat, or to reproduce. Yet we feel it. We have a conscience. We have a sense of right and wrong, somewhere deep down. Most religions (I am way over my head here, but I swim on) are structured around informing and perfecting our conscience, directing our will toward being the more human.

It has nothing to do with stinking fossils! The debate over whether God exists is best discussed about the existence of the soul, not the existence of dinosaurs on a boat! (or Snakes on a Plane for that matter.)

By the way, this debate (God exists vs God doesn't exist, and to a lesser extent: God is Clapton vs Clapton is God) has gone on for a long time. Smart people engage in this topic. CS Lewis, Thomas Acquinas, RC Sproul, Frederick Nieche, Voltaire. And many other people whose works I haven't read. And I don't think any of them give one dang paragraph about dinosaurs! It's not on the radar in the rational debate on this topic.

Evil. That's a topic worth discussing. If you believe in God, it's a difficult question. "Why is there evil?" Smart people have written volumes on it. But "Were there dinosaurs on Noah's arc" shouldn't be discussed, or curated in a museum and sold for $12 a head worth of admission.

Strict Creationism is not science. Or if it is, it's pretty bad science. It will always come down to a circular argument which perpetuates itself. So it should stay out of the argument entirely. (I wish it had stayed out of Boone County, KY entirely.)

Here's my position in a nutshell. Faith is NOT opposed to Science. Science is not the enemy of Faith. Rather, through science we learn how amazing creation really is. Too amazing to be summed up in a few verses in Genesis... so I'm guessing the author of the book of Genesis left out a few things.


Giedra said...

I am jumping up and down with glee, for so many reasons:

1. You are moving closer to us.
2. You have posted again.
3. You have perfectly summed up my opinions on science and faith and that infernal Creation Museum ($19.95 a head, according to the Indy Star).
4. The Gap Clearance Center.
5. Closer to us!!!

Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!! Welcome back and looking forward to seeing you soon. Tell us more about the move etc etc.

Giedra said...

Man, I just reread that, and when I originally wrote it it had more exclamation points, but Jeff Lewis chided me recently for overuse of exclamation points, so I removed most of them, but dang, I meant them all.

!!!!!!!!!!!! so glad you are back!!!!!!!!

ET said...

Too kind. I didn't have the nerve to send an email about that post. Too pointed for public viewing. Glad you saw it. $19.95! I should have done my research!!!!!!!!!!!!

alvord said...

Thanks for getting back on this! I kept hitting the bookmark, and would be saddened when that same "rockstar" picture of myself came up.

Hurray for more posts!!

Do not read the following. Contains opinions about science/religion.

Evolution/Creation, eh? way to polarize your audience! I was struck by our father's comment: say God created the universe some 10,000 years ago... it would be like his creation of an 18 year old man or a 100 year old tree out of nothing. If science examined that tree or that man minutes after their creation they would find all the physical evidence of their age. So what? So what if he made the universe yesterday with all the 3 billion years of dino's all packed in there? Those are just the annual growth rings, or the wrinkles and freckles of that man.
The metaphysics of an omnipotent god puts her existence outside the bounds of time, and so outside any arguments about causality.

The creationists seem to find comfort in the old bearded guy in the clouds doing "magic" and "miracles" and for the infinite complexity of the universe to remain unfathomable. Similarly, the faith-based adherents of western science take great comfort in believing the naming stuff is the same as knowing something. If they can manage to describe the universe, they somehow can ignore the spiritual realm and declare god dead. What grand hubris to sit up in the academic tower and look out upon the world declaring: "I know this place and how it works!" Perhaps... but so what?

I don't think the sides in this debate can ever resolve because the sides are not talking about the same thing, they are not arguing the same point. One is screaming "Vanilla ice cream is the BEST!! stupid heathen" The other counters: "That's absurd, everyone knows that Abbey Road was their best album!! Idiot fanatic."

guinever said...

So I guess we shouldn't plan on meeting you at the Creation Museum, huh?

glad you're stateside, but I did like it better when you all were less than 5 miles away...

say hello to Kathleen for me.

ET said...

Maybe I should meet you there. Here I am acting like I know what it contains and what it all means. But I've never even been. So you should come up and visit and we'll all go together. It would be worth the $20 admission just to see you guys again. Take care.