Christians don’t have to be dumb.Posted: 2011-09-06
I live in an area that focuses very heavily on what people smarter than me like to refer to as “folk religion.” I like to define folk religion as “Faith made completely from anecdotes.” By this, I mean that everything that an individual knows and believes about God comes from one-liners repeated by generation after generation of those wonderful old Sunday School teachers who are quoting something said by their Sunday School teacher when they were a kid, which has no foundation in Scripture, up-to-date Scientific evidence, or the greater theological tradition as laid down by the Apostles or the early Church Fathers. From folk religion come statements like this:
“Did you know that no two snowflakes ever have been or ever will be alike? God made each one individually, and He is creative enough to make each one unique. It is the same with you. You are special.”
This is a nice sentiment, and the application of it is quite obviously correct. However, anyone who has any experience in such matters would quickly see the fallacy in the analogy. The belief that snowflakes are completely unique has been passed down for decades by people who have no concept of probability or statistics. Obviously, no one has checked every snowflake to find out whether it matches any of the others. Rather, this is an assumption made ages ago based on the fact that there are many unique types of snowflakes, along with the fact that the precise conditions for making each individual snowflake are so unique that it is unlikely that they will happen again. However, this is all within the mathematical field of probability. Probability does not define what actually happens, and the outcome of one situation does not in any way define the outcome of the next. Therefore, it is completely possible (if not probable) for a snowflake to be replicated.
On the other hand lies the concept that God designed each snowflake to be unique. But what if people familiar with the physics of the water cycle and meteorology can tell you exactly how snowflakes are created? They would say that specific temperatures, barometric pressures, water droplet sizes, and all sorts of other variables combine over a given amount of time to create a snowflake of a certain size. Through modern science we can pinpoint and define exactly how a snowflake is created. If you look at it from the eyes of someone who knows what they’re talking about in such matters, you are able to see the randomness that creates the snowflake. Where does God lie in that?
The problem that lies in folk religion anecdotes such as this one is the fact that they do not come from reliable facts and sources. They’ve been passed down over so many decades that no one knows where they came from. What’s wrong with this? Their impact on the non-Christians. Why do so many intellectuals end up as atheists? I could be wrong, but I believe that they have heard anecdotes like the one about the snowflakes. They see the logical fallacies that are obviously present, and they discount Christianity as being incompatible with logic or even intelligence.
Why am I stating this? I am not bashing the church. I don’t see folk religion as being malicious at all. Rather, I am stating that I think that it is important for us to choose our words wisely. What if another person walks away from Christ because you caused them to think that He is not compatible with logic and intelligence? Do Jesus’ words about the millstone apply here?
Choose your words wisely. Christians don’t have to be dumb. 🙂