Jed Clampett used to say that when he referred to something dim-witted second cousin Jethro Bodine said or did.
I found those words floating through my mind as I looked at a copy of Does God Exist, a quarterly published by John Clayton. Clayton is one of the best among the Churches of Christ in making science and religion compatible and relevant. He has no problems saying he believes in evolution.
Evolution meaning: “An unfolding type of change.” Everything evolves. Science, Business, education, even theology. And that last one is the rub. This has caused Clayton to be branded by some in the C of C.
He tells of not long ago receiving a call from an 80-year-old retired science teacher and widow of an elder, who had taught Sunday School with a half-century experience of teaching children, who was told she could no longer teach because, in her words, “You aren’t much of a Christian because you believe in evolution.” Then, not much later another woman called and said she had been removed from teaching her second grade Sunday School class because, “You believe in science.” “Holy Charles Darwin, Batman! Are we still in the dark ages?!” Or, as Jed Clampett would say, “Pediful! Pediful!”
Such an attitude toward science from religious circles comes partly from refusing to understand scripture within its historical and literary context.
Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” To say, as some do, that this means God selects the sex and personality of every person, is to say what it does not say. It is a poetic way of giving God the glory for one’s life. Neither does Psalm 51:5 teach that we are born sinners. The Psalm, traditionally accredited to David after his adultery with Bathsheba, says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Is this a direct quote from God? No. This is David reflecting on his sin and expressing his deep remorse, so much so that he sees himself “bad to the bone!” God never said that, nor did Jesus.
Perhaps the things said about Judas come to mind. If you believe he was created to betray Jesus and had no choice, then give him a break. He did what he was created to do. He fulfilled the will of God. Name your next kid Judas.
However, these and other such examples fall into the literary context. The Gospels were written after the Epistles.
Jesus died, rose from the dead (defeating the last enemy) and ascended. The Gospels are told from that context. Therefore, salvation from sin and death came from all of the pieces falling into place. Without those elements, the story of salvation falls apart. Therefore, in its own way, it is the will of God. Could Jesus have turned away from the cross? Yes. In fact, it is in his refusal to escape the cross that he reveals the love and grace of God. His death and resurrection changed everything.
It’s the things which fall into the poetic context that cause some to reject science. To take poetry and say it means God develops each person like an individual knitting project is to misunderstand and misuse scripture. To understand human birth and development, we need to look at science. Evolving science has brought us from believing that children born with a birth defect is a curse from God, to understanding in most cases, the root cause. The tragedy of religion gone wrong is that in some areas even today, children born with something as simple as a cleft pallet are seen as cursed by God.
The fear of the advancement of human knowledge (science) has historical roots in religion. Perhaps, among scriptures about God’s thinking and man’s thinking, is the story of Eden, where it appears that humans try to become God. It messed up everything. Just about every venture into scientific discovery has been seen by some as an attempt to become God.
I can remember when I was in early grade school, seeing one of those National Enquire-type magazines proclaiming in fearful type, “Test-tube Babies Are Coming!” At that age I was having enough trouble with where babies came from without replacing the stork with a test-tube!
What I’m saying is this; let’s give God a break and stop blaming him for everything we don’t understand that goes wrong. “Wrong” is a relative term. What we may see as wrong in the beginning, can become a blessing (a right) when we look back on it. This is often true in the case of a child born with an affliction. However, while we may become thankful, the affliction was caused by physiological reasons. Children born with two sets of reproductive organs are said to be the result of a mix up in the chromosomes at a critical point of development. It is science that helps us to understand and deal with what some religions would say is the will of God.
Any advancement of science that alters the accepted “natural” flow of life is often seen as an affront to God. We sing that God is the “Ruler of all nature” but we dam up rivers to produce irrigation and electricity. We build flood walls to hold back water from its “natural” flood course.
We alter biology by cross-breeding of plants and animals. But when it comes to humankind we feel we are imposing on God. The Bible was used to make black/white marriage illegal for years.
Is it possible to upset human development and create Frankinstiens? Who knows. What about cloning? I know of a lawyer who had the DNA from a son who died young stored, hoping to clone him so he could have the chance at life he failed to have. These are issues where faith and science need to come together.
Faith in God can help by maintaining the sanctity of life while not misusing scripture in any way. We can stand in awe of the knowledge that is part of our God-given creative nature. We have come this far, and with wonder and reverence, continue for as long as life lasts.
CONCERNS: Jim Hunter had to have more of his foot remove due to diabetes. Debbie McRoy will be scheduled for back surgery in the coming weeks. Her cousin, Linda Alsup has health issues and her husband, Preston is being treated for cancer. Judy McWhorter had a bout with bronchitis last week. Teryn Gaynor had the flu last week. Those being treated for, or recovering from cancer are: Ray Barns, (pray also for his wife, Darnell) Judy Powell, Harold Clark (Jo Wagner’s sister and a cousin) Teryn Gaynor’s mother, (also her step-father has Parkinson’s) Former members, Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law, David and Deanna McRoy. Donte McCadden, a CF patient, Jamie Cole, Joni Beach’s niece. The aging parents of Wayne Flora, the Beach’s and Del Bolin. Continue to pray for Gary Overstreet, Jim Hunter, Bill Albert, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tim Elder and Jim and Mary Smith.
We welcome today, Jonathan Dansby and his family. Jonathan comes to us from Duke University, where he will graduate in May with a Master of Divinity Degree. He is the first minister speaking with the steering committee and the church concerning the position of pulpit minister.
Today is also Super Sunday. The fellowship meal in the annex will follow the morning service. Plan to stay and get to know Jonathan and his family.
On Sunday, March 31, we will have the annual visit by a representative from the Gideon’s Int. A short presentation will be made before the scheduled service, and he will be taking a retiring offering after the service in the foyer.
It has been decided that the Bulletin will continue to be printer bi-monthly. The middle of the month issue will contain an article which will continue to fill the inside, with the front and back carrying the concerns and the news. The last-of-the month bulletin will contain an article as well as the list of those who will be serving the congregation, along with a list of birthdays and anniversaries.
Last Sunday, Andy Todd visited with us. He is with the Food and Drug Administration. He has a girl friend in Cincinnati, and visits her when he can.