Thursday, February 6, 2014

"The Question Of God"

So, we had a recent "creation vs. science" debate with Bill Nye and Ken Ham.

This is an interesting topic. No, I didn't bother to watch… and really it is beside the point. I wonder, in any style of limited debate like this, if any side has justice done. I mean really, Science, by definition, aspires to what is “provable”. Faith is based on exactly the opposite, though (contrary to popular belief) not in an uninformed manner. Of course what is “provable” will always have the advantage.

©2005 Randall M. Hasson
C.S. Lewis - The Spirit and the Man
(Detail) © 2005 Randall M. Hasson
One of my favorite treatments of this Creation vs Science “debate” was a documentary done by PBS called "The Question Of God" which I studied as I was doing research for a painting on C.S. Lewis. The premise was a Harvard professor of Psychology (Dr. Armand Nicholi) who was teaching a class on Freud. Having just Freud’s view wasn’t working for him, so he added C.S. Lewis for students to compare and contrast. It became so popular that it has been offered for over 35 years. When PBS did the documentary, they had a nicely mixed panel of agnostics, atheists, believers, apologists and professors. It is one of the best treatments I have ever seen. From the PBS Website: “Their arguments can never prove or disprove the existence of God. Their lives, however, offer sharp commentary on the truth, believability, and utility of their views.”

This documentary is really a thoughtful, fascinating journey. Both Freud and Lewis, as well as the panel members, could actually articulate each of their worldviews without propagandist rhetoric (or what it seems that we in social media now practice: “name calling”). I believe, personally, that the more science advances, the more it strengthens my faith, but that is just me.  Yes I understand that there is the epic of Gilgamesh “before Noah” was written, yes I have studied where our earliest forms of writing came from, yes I get that someone just found and put together a round “Noah’s ark” recently, etc, etc. All good. If you think that Faith is Mythology, no problem, but also remember that “mythologies” come from somewhere and point to some actual person or event. Lewis, a literary scholar (and an atheist at the time), came to conclusions about this issue of mythology poignantly with this reference in his biography "Surprised by Joy". 

The point is this: educate yourself, be informed and quit propagating ignorant or partially informed statements (on both sides) that fail to take into account our heritage as Humans walking in this world and how we choose to live our own “one and only” life on this earth. The right of others who don’t “live by our rules” to not be inundated by our conservative or liberal bashing posts on social media should be a given.  (That is why there is a "hide" button on Facebook by the way. Try it, it'll make your life so much better!) Everyone complains about slanted news - Fox vs CNN and so on. We all are entitled to our own opinion. One of the things I keep learning is "the more I study, the less I know". Go research your sources please, and:  
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1)

The older I get, the more I am partial to Rilke's statement below:

 "Forever" (detail) ©2008 Randall M. Hasson
"Forever" (detail) ©2008 Randall M. Hasson

(1). 1 Peter 3:15


  1. Love this, Randy. My take has always been: We are all travelling different roads to the same destination.

  2. Bravo! Intelligent and well written. I so agree.

  3. A very nice, open and well communicated posting Randy. Although I am not a believer, I respect and encourage everyone to follow their own path. My personal path has wound though belief, agnosticism and atheism, and is the result of considerable study and introspection over many years. My primary concern with regard to faith at this point in my life is when beliefs are imposed on me by what I am assume are well meaning people of faith. So sometimes I get a little impassioned when I feel the world going backwards. The debate between Mr. Nye and Mr. Ham was interesting to me and I learned something about the mechanisms that creationists use to integrate scientific-sounding laws to their theory of creation and the history of the world. I am sure that every person in that room came away unmoved by the arguments of the opposing side, but it was interesting none the less.

    1. See now, I guess that is what I am saying... your comment "So sometimes I get a little impassioned when I feel the world going backwards" implies idiocy on the part of people of faith... does it not? That is as bad as what you view tea party statements to be... would you agree?

  4. Proof the IQ test is accurate! Well done Randy. I concur...the more I learn and "attempt" to understand science etc the stronger my faith grows. So often those who profess to know all the answers quickly reveal their ignorance and the very narrow tunnel they travel in.

  5. well spoken love. I pray that both sides will refrain from "pushing" their doctrines upon the the end...the point is that we live a life well loved and full of loving...which is the intention of this GOD we so long to know and be like. More Love.

  6. I think it is interesting that the "provable" keeps changing--scientists who "proved" something thirty years ago are finding new data to negate what they had "formerly proven." Of course, that does not keep us from searching for answers. But in my almost seventy years of living, I have found only One thing unchangeable--namely God.

  7. Always more food for thought, Randy. I never stop learning and you have offered insights on this subject. I agree with Connie that more understanding of science just strengthens my faith.

  8. Randy,
    I certainly wouldn't use the word idiocy, but you have me there... What I said was not completely respectful. Honestly I have no problem with believers meshing their faith with science, I have no more idea what or who is behind the laws of nature than anybody else (even if you say that you do), it's the science-deniers who I have issues with. So, yes, I do think that folks who take the bible literally against all reason or rational evaluation are no different than UFO enthusiasts or people who believe in fairies. However, believers who feel that the Word of God is filled with allegory, lessons, beauty as well as history, seem a little more rational in my book. But I'm just me and that is how I feel.

    People don't like it when you challenge their faith or their world view, so you probably won't agree with me. Val, most certainly won't agree with me... and Teri doesn't agree with me either. But I love all three of you and wish you to be happy and fulfilled in your lives. Sometimes I am disappointed that my friends don't share my beliefs so I imagine it is the same for you. Regardless, I am about out of juice on this issue...

    I always want to dive in and let people who broadcast their faith and beliefs know that there is another (in my view better) way, but in the end, I am usually disappointed to learn that my targets are just as entrenched in their views as I am in mine and that my abilities as a communicator are not sufficient to convey the joy, and the unfettered peace that I felt when I came to what I am now.

    So, now that I have lulled you into a sense of complacency, I will close with this combative Nietzche quote:
    "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."

    Cheers, my friend.