Monday, September 10, 2012

Rethinking Science vs. Religion

I adored The Dark Knight Rises. It's seriously going in my top 10 movies. The purposeful action, the elegant melancholy, the cool accents...and that plane scene (my jaw was literally open both times I saw it). One thing spoke to me more than anything else though. The movie struck me as one long effort to highlight the futility of the false dichotomies we create in life and relish on a daily basis in efforts to keep an otherwise messy existence clean and simple. We do it all day, every day, Bulls or Heat, Democrat or Republican, us or them, Creation or Evolution. While the core of Christian status is quite black or white (did you go through Jesus or not), the clarity after that point, I believe, is only to be fully grasped by God.

The Pharisees were NOTORIOUS for trying to trap Jesus with false dichotomies...Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife or not? Is it right for a man to pay taxes or not? Should this adulterous woman be punished or not? Each time, Jesus responded with an answer that rejected the yes/no dynamic inherent in the Pharisees' efforts to confine him to two choices.

Reading The Guide for the Perplexed, I'm seeing the false dichotomy has almost a tradition in Jewish culture of being used to deceive...which would make perfect sense as to why the Pharisees ran straight to it so often.  This time, it's Natural and Divine sciences. The section I'm on now addresses the placement of creation in the Bible, how it should be taught and what importance in plays. Maimonides asserts that Divine sciences  cannot be understood until the Natural sciences are grasped and quotes Jewish sages as saying:

 "It is impossible to tell mortals of the power of the Account of the Beginning. For this reason Scripture tells you obscurely: In the Beginning God created, and so on."

That flies in the face of the stance main-stream modern American Christianity has taken against the sciences and it continues to make me did we get here? Why was it, that so many years ago, American colleges, universities and scientists believed in and worshiped God, following the paths of Jewish teachings like that listed above, but now, some Christians reject science altogether. Maybe it really is as simple as the backlash of the emotional Second Great Awakening against the cerebral bent of its predecessor...that though, I am beginning to think, is a mere case of the Church again absorbing secular culture instead of blazing its own paths to God.  As Mark 12:24 says, I think we are in error very much because we simultaneously do not know the scriptures, and want to limit the power of God to fit human understanding. 

This book turns my head upside down and my soul inside out. I'm only a few pages in (it's a VERY rough read) but I am very much beginning to believe that creation...something we regard as simple enough to be grasped by 5 year olds (I spent a lot of time in Christian school, and we spent a lot of time on creation) much more advanced a concept than we realize and that we ask people to do the impossible when we tell them to simply accept the teachings of Genesis at face value. I am beginning to believe the reason Jesus did not speak much on creation was not because it was not important, but that it was simply too advanced a concept for his following, then and now, to begin to contemplate or understand. 

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