Sunday, October 08, 2006

When our world view changes

Sometimes we make radical changes in our world view. Sometimes we think we have life all figured out, and then we find facts that are inconsistent with our view of the world, and we find that we must look at the world in a whole new light. If this change occurs in an area in which we are deeply committed, such as religion, the effect can be devastating. A reader shares his experience.

First, I don't quite know if I should thank you, or not. Since I first happened on your site in December 2004, I have really, really changed my worldviews concerning the way I was taught. I was raised to believe in young earth creation, etc...and have spent the last two years off and on realizing that I have been utterly lied to by well-intentioned folks who were ignorant of science. The young earth view is demonstrably wrong. Since this is true, I seriously wonder what all else that I have taught is wrong.
Here we have a major change in this man's views. Sometimes mainstream scientists have difficulty understanding how drastic this change is. When one is fully convinced that the fundamentalist package, including the belief in a recent creation of the entire universe, is the one message of truth and hope in this world, the tiniest crack in this belief system can be devastating. And yet there are the realities of starlight and the fossil record that make it obvious that the earth is indeed very old. When we face that fact, suddenly the fundamentalist view is no longer seen as infallible. Could there be other problems with that view? I can understand why this man's change in view is difficult.

I am currently an old-earth creationist, who unfortunately teaches in a Baptist church school that is a fundamental young earth church. I even teach a senior high Bible class! I do not seem to experience anything miraculous, in fact, I have become quite cynical, lonely, angry, bitter, toward life in general. If I happened to die, it would be no great loss, since I don't particularly enjoy living anyway; I am a burned out teacher that kids think is great; but really, I feel that I am a fool for doing what I do for the money at a Christian school.

I pause when I read this paragraph. I do not want people to feel lonely, angry and bitter. And I certainly don't want people to feel that if they died it would be no great loss. What? Lose a mature human mind with all the knowledge, feelings, emotions and drives that make human minds such wonderful things? That would be a great loss. So how do we keep people from feeling this way? How do we prevent people from drifting into cynicism when their faith is questioned? How can we keep people from feeling like a fool.

Some would suggest that we leave well-enough alone, and not help people see where their beliefs are outdated. Should we abandon evolution, since some object to it? Should we abandon self-esteem, since some still hold to the view that we are inherently worthless with no good inside us? Should we abandon astronomy, since some still hold to a young earth? That would only be a step backwards.

Although struggling with the new ideas is tough, the end result is very refreshing. I believe this man has taken the first step to a great exuberance in his life. He has taken the time to write down his thoughts, and to indicate that they are different from the party line. He has validated his thoughts. He needs no longer subjugate his thoughts to the status quo. He has given free expression to words that differ with the way he was taught. If he continues down this road, I am quite sure that his path will lead to joy, not sorrow.
I am "serving God" who doesn't apparently care about anything in my life - I have lost almost everything that I fervently believed in - in fact, I am keeping a prayer journal, with my prayers listed in the left column with the date, the "result" listed in the right column with the date. After keeping this journal for around one year, there has not been even one prayer answered out of the 6 or so that I have been tracking.
He is putting the claims to a test, and finds the claims to be faulty.

Recently I was at a NASCAR race at which the weather forecasters predicted a chance of thunderstorms. When the day turned out to be clear, I overheard one man announce that his prayers had been answered. That's odd. Are we to believe that God ignored the prayers of millions during the Holocaust, and allowed many Christians to starve in spite of their prayers, but thought it important enough to hold the rain back from this race?

The absence of rain that day does not impress me as an answer to prayer, and it appears that the writer of this email is not impressed with it either. After all, the forecasters had only said there was a chance of rain. Our correspondant and I are looking for something a little more meaningful.
I hang on to the concept of God primarily, I think because of my job situation, and my wife and kids, but if it was me, I could easily become agnostic.
The change of views is not easy. Many hold on to the old views because of the social pressures. This man is on the right track, and needs only admit what his mind is telling him.

Okay, the real reason I wrote is because in your debate on your blog with under the heading "A New Train Has Left the Station", you state the following: "That is the point where I stop also. What caused the universe? If someone were to claim that the universe cannot exist without a creator, then how could God exist without someone to create him? It strains the credibility both to believe in a self-existing universe or a self-existing God. If we must conclude that either the universe or God was self-existing, then I find a self-existing God to be no more likely than a self-existing universe. And I leave it at that." I believe that you have committed a category error in your argument insofar as God, by His very nature, is self-existing. So to ask "Who created God?" is like asking what does the color red sound like? God, by His nature has the attribute of being self-existing, else He wouldn't be in the category of being God.

We seem to be discussing semantics here. What should we call an omnipotent being that possesses all the attributes commonly attributed to God except that he was brought into existence by some force that no longer exists? I would call that being "God." The writer apparently thinks this being would not really be God, since he is missing an important attribute of God. I see no reason to argue about that difference in our choice of words for such a being (if he exists).

Whether the universe was self-existing or self creating, or whether a self-existing being started it all, is not that significant unless one claims that the self-existant creator has communicated or intervened in human affairs. It is that intervention for which I see no evidence. Without that intervention, the existance of a self-existing creator is merely an academic discussion, from which I refrain from getting involved.


Anonymous said...

For ease of terms here since we don't know his name, I'll call the Baptist man "Joe".


A human life is NEVER without hope. God blessed you with a family, please remember what your children think of you. Evolution teaches that noone cares about you, we're just molecules that arrange differently over time. How sad is that? Please remember these passages:

Matthew 4:7 "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"


Luke 4:12 "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "

Keeping a list of prayers is good. The Lord works on His timetable not yours so be patient and fight the good fight. Your life has great meaning to all of your students and to those who see you every day. Remember Job and the torments he went through. He lost everything but still stayed the course. No one said that life is easy, so it's helpful to put others first. With God all things are possible.

If you were dead you would not be able to hug your kids or wish them a happy birthday or see them smile. I wish you well.

God Bless,

LorMar said...

Please remember these passages:

Matthew 4:7 "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"


Luke 4:12 "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "

I don't see what either of those passages had to do with this man's circumstances. He didn't declare "If you are God, then let me land safely as I jump out of a plane with no parachute. He simply kept a prayer journal.

"The Lord works on His timetable not yours so be patient..."

So do you believe that God will do exactly what this man asked?