[A]nd said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead … -- Luke 24:46
Monday, September 22, 2014
Sometimes I get on my motorcycle and ride, not to go anywhere but to enjoy the road. I always, though, have a destination because I will, no matter what direction I take or how long I am gone, arrive at home. I also know that there will come a day, and it may be this one, when I will arrive at a different, though not altogether unexpected, terminus. We may dread that station, choose not to think about it, or look forward to it.
We spend a lot of time and energy talking about how we should live as Christians. Back in 1976, Francis Schaeffer wrote a book called How Should We Then Live? which seemed to be the foundational text for much of the Christian conservative movement among evangelicals. References to Schaeffer were everywhere in the ‘80s and early ‘90s on Christian radio and in various publications. I have come to wonder, though, if the first question that must be answered isn’t Why Should We Then Live.
Schaeffer accused the secular culture of resting its intellectual achievements on assumptions that it denied were true. Most Christians when talking about disasters and strife and suffering will say that God does not constantly intervene in the natural order of the universe but instead primarily employs that very order – which we believe He created, to bring about His will and His ends. Sometimes atheists will respond to this by saying that a God who does not make Himself known and cannot be discerned by scientific means – if He does exist , is effectively the same as no God at all. Yet these same people are amazed – and it amazing -- to find there are discernable, understandable laws in the universe that can be discovered and described by our mathematics, that our minds seem to reflect, somehow, the universe.
We are here, so everything must have worked. I agree that you can’t prove the existence of God by talking about the odds against life and consciousness and humanity. It does not matter how infinitesimally small the chances were that we would exist, we do, in fact, exist. At least I do. Some of you I’m not so sure about. On the internet I could be talking to bots that passed the test.
To me it seems that, with God, man has a reason to exist, a “why” to live. Our atheists friends can come up with a reasonable facsimile of an ethic and a how to live. Their why will fall back on selfish genes, on determinism, on continuing the species, or simply a shrug and a turn to “don’t know; don’t really care”. And that’s fine, so long as we are all clear that a God-denying worldview is necessarily nihilistic and absurd. Not many people are honest enough to live as though that were true, and fewer still want to live in a world where the majority lives as though that were true.
Instead many look for a science fiction hope of a singularity, of some kind of pseudo immortality, of racing out to the stars faster than light, of uploading their brains to a quantum computer and downloading to perfected clones.
It’s not going to happen. For one thing, the brain and the mind are not the same. Consciousness and identity do not reside solely in the central nervous system anymore that one’s deadlift capacity is a matter of hand strength. Brain and body are the interfaces, and the brain, to some extent a repository. You know before you remember you know. You have decided before the decision is recorded in your neural networks. Good luck uploading Ted Williams’ ability to hit .400 from his frozen head.
Jesus knew where He was going, and He knew why He was in the world. For most of us the way is less clear and well-defined. We stumble along doing our best to follow a path we may see only dimly, often wondering if we have not strayed too far, not sure if Someone walks with us, guiding us as we go. We walk by faith, not by sight. I did not, I don’t think, have to be here – either where I am right now, or, perhaps, in the world at all. Riding my bike I’ve taken some wrong turns and hit a few deadends. I’ve been lost, but I’ve never been so lost that I didn’t know I had a home. I might not have known how to get there, but I knew where it was.
There is a destination for every life. We have a home, however lost we may be right now.