Sunday, June 22, 2008

There are a lot of people out there a lot smarter than me

This post is in response to Jeff at the Atheocracy, via Jennifer at Et tu?. The question concerns how those of us with an intellectual bent interact with Christianity on an intellectual answer.

I had the advantage of growing up an intellectual (T) kid in an intellectual church. The church I grew up in was a plant to a university community. It was riddled with academics in all fields. We had professors of entomology, engineering, foreign languages, and veterinary medicine. Doctoral candiates in philosophy, business . . . etc. . . . The pastor preached sermons I half understood, during which I occupied myself listing all the words he used that I didn't have a clue about so I could look them up later. And there was my father who seemed to have an answer or a source for any question I could dream up.

What I learned as a child at an intuitive level was that for any question that I tried to engage, I was likely to get more of answer than I could handle. I wasn't the first person to tackle . . . well, pretty much anything. And for all that I was pretty impressed with my own intelligence, there were a lot of people who I loved and respected who were smarter and more educated on all these things than I was. Orthodox Christians who were not trying to hide or ignore anything had found answers that they found to be sufficient. Frankly, I found it a relief to know that it wasn't up to me to come up with all the answers on my own--if ever any of these things bothered me too much, I could catch up on the arguments and join the fray, but in the meantime I didn't need to reinvent the wheel.

As Jennifer noted, of course, knowing God isn't just a matter of thinking about him. It's a matter of loving and being loved. I had that from early on--from before I can remember. And part of the experience of knowing that I'm loved is being able to rest in the comfortable assurance that however deep I want to go . . . God is bigger. He's not afraid of my challenges or questions, and there are answers. Just knowing that the answers are out there is often enough for me.

As an adult, this has really continued to be my experience. I've yet to run across a new concern or question about "life, the universe, and everything."

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said,“See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. (Ecc 1:9 & 10)

So intellectually, you might say that nothing has led me away from Christianity . . . I have found the answers that I have found and been given to be sufficient. And I don't presume that thousands of years of Christian and Hebrew theology and philosophy has done purely by idiots and naifs. After all, I'm not starting this convesation--I'm only continuing it.

1 comment:

Jennifer F. said...

Thanks for these thoughts. Very interesting. Also, thank your for taking the time to introduce yourself on my site!