Cool Off!

On Facebook this morning, reference was made to an article commenting on a movie about a young Christian who confronts his atheist professor. The part that struck me was that the argument between the student and professor, it seems, was one over evolution vs. creationism. I am getting really tired of this putting people in boxes by drawing from one belief that they hold different from one’s own. The acceptance of the theory of evolution does not make one an atheist. The belief that there is no God is what makes one an atheist. The difference between evolution and creationism is about how God is engaged in the world, not about whether there is a God to be engaged. (I will say more about atheism at another time.)

This tendency to look at a part of a person and assume one knows the whole is old. I remember the little parable about the mice who thought they understood what an elephant was but each was looking at only one part and assumed the part it was looking at was the whole elephant. That is what is happening here. The above is about a specific scientific theory, but I get equally irritated about those who judge people because of their political views. A political liberal simply cannot be a Christian, right? Different political views reflect different beliefs about how a government should function, not about whether one believes in God or what religious path one follows. A sincere Christian can believe that the government should be actively engaged in administering assistance to its citizens. Another sincere Christian can believe that the government should have as little engagement as possible in the affairs of its citizens.

The problem with this judgmental stance is that it causes people to go on the defensive, to stop listening to one another, to get angry and controlling, to cluster with others who believe the way they believe against those who believe differently, to name those who have different beliefs “enemies”…and you know where that leads.

Enough! Everybody go to your corners and cool off!

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3 Responses to Cool Off!

  1. Marie Zapf-Taylor says:

    Received this story once. Thought it was worth sharing.

    God Vs Science – A true story by one of our most brilliant scientists.

    ‘Let me explain the problem science has with religion.’ The
    professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his
    new students to stand.

    ‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’

    ‘Yes sir,’ the student says..

    ‘So you believe in God?’

    ‘Absolutely.’

    ‘Is God good?’

    ‘Sure! God’s good.’

    ‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’

    ‘Yes’

    ‘Are you good or evil?’

    ‘The Bible says I’m evil.’

    The professor grins knowingly. ‘Aha! The Bible!’ He considers
    for a moment.

    ‘Here’s one for you.. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here
    and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’

    ‘Yes sir, I would.’

    ‘So you’re good…!’

    ‘I wouldn’t say that.’

    ‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if
    you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’

    The student does not answer, so the professor continues.. ‘He
    doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even
    though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm?
    Can you answer that one?’

    The student remains silent.

    ‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of
    water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

    ‘Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?’

    ‘Er..yes,’ the student says.

    ‘Is Satan good?’

    The student doesn’t hesitate on this one.. ‘No.’

    ‘Then where does Satan come from?’

    The student falters. ‘From God’

    ‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. ! Is
    there evil in this world?’

    ‘Yes, sir.’

    ‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything,
    correct?’

    ‘Yes’

    ‘So who created evil?’ The professor continued, ‘If God created
    everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to
    the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’

    Again, the student has no answer. ‘Is there sickness?
    Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they
    exist in this world?’

    The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’

    ‘So who created them?’

    The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his

    question.

    ‘Who created them?’ There is still no answer. Suddenly the
    lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is
    mesmerized.

    ‘Tell me,’he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in
    Jesus Christ, son?’

    The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. ‘Yes, professor, I
    do.’

    The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you
    use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen
    Jesus?’

    ‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him.’

    ‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’

    ‘No, sir, I have not.’

    ‘Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your
    Jesus?

    Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God
    for that matter?’

    ‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’

    ‘Yet you still believe in him?’

    ‘Yes’

    ‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable
    protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that,
    son?’

    ‘Nothing,’ the student replies. ‘I only have my faith.’

    ‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem
    science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’

    The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a
    question of his own. ‘Professor, is there such thing as heat?’
    >
    ‘Yes.

    ‘And is there such a thing as cold?’

    ‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’

    ‘No sir, there isn’t.’

    The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested.
    The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain.
    ‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat,
    unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have
    anything called ‘cold’… We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which
    is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such
    thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest
    -458 degrees.’

    ‘Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or
    transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or
    transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat.
    You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of
    heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units
    because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the
    absence of it.’

    Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom,
    sounding like a hammer.

    ‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as
    darkness?’

    ‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night
    if it isn’t darkness?’

    ‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the
    absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright
    light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have
    nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to
    define the word.’

    ‘In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to
    make Darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’

    The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him.
    This will be a good semester. ‘So what point are you making, young man?’

    ‘Yes, professor! . My point is, your philosophical premise is
    flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’

    The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time.
    ‘Flawed? Can you explain how?’

    ‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student
    explains.. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good
    God and a Bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something
    finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a
    thought.’

    ‘It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much
    less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life
    is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive
    thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.’

    ‘Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they
    evolved from a monkey?’

    ‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young
    man, yes, of course I do.’

    ‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’

    The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he
    realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

    ‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work
    and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you
    not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a
    preacher?’

    The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the
    commotion has subsided.

    ‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other
    student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’

    The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class
    who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’ The class breaks out into
    laughter.

    ‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain,
    felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No
    one appears to have done so. So, according! to the established rules of

    empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no
    brain, with all due respect, sir.’

    ‘So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your
    lectures, Sir?’

    Now the room is silent.. The professor just stares at the
    student, his face unreadable.

    Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. ‘I
    guess you’ll have to take them on faith.’

    ‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists
    with life,’ the student continues. ‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as
    evil?’

    Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We
    see it everyday It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man.
    It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world..
    These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’

    To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at
    least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God..
    It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to
    describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result
    of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart.
    It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that
    comes when there is no light..’

    The professor sat down.

    • Judy says:

      Great story. It illustrates beautifully what faith is…it really is different than knowing. In fact, it is what keeps us going when we realize, when faced with crisis, that we don’t know in the traditional way of knowing, that is, an intellectual surety. The only thing I don’t like about the story is that it appears that the professor lost…but I think that in the student’s silence during the first half of the dialogue, and the professor’s silence at the end, both experienced that place where faith can take root. It is true for me, for sure…when I realize I don’t know, faith kicks in.

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