Christians don’t have to be dumb.

20110906-090234.jpg

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. 🙂

Advertisements

3 Comments on “Christians don’t have to be dumb.”

  1. Holly says:

    What? No comments?

  2. Jenna says:

    Hmmm…. I agree with everything you’ve written, all except for the last couple of statements. I’d say that maybe the “fault” for a person hardening their heart against the Lord would be in taking someone else’s word for what He says, instead of searching Him out themselves. If the Spirit of God keeps knocking on the door of their heart, and they don’t listen because someone made a rather faulty statement about snowflakes, I don’t know that I’d lay the blame at the feet of the person who was well meaning- if not truly factual. 🙂

    I really like the blog, by the way. I enjoy your writing style.

    • The Bible does address the fact that our actions and words can and do influence the salvation of others. Take, for example, 1 Corinthians 3:15 (NIV, 1984): “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” This verse comes from a larger passage where Paul is talking about the Christian’s work being tested. The work of Christians is to bring others to salvation. Therefore, if we have failed at influencing others toward salvation, then we are partially at fault.

      I cited the “millstone” passage from Luke 17:2 in the conclusion. This verse addresses the action of causing a little child to sin. This also can show that our actions and words do influence others toward one path or another.

      You are right in saying that ultimately, the decision of whether or not we accept Christ comes down to the individual. No one can choose it for them. However, outside factors can definitely influence said decision, especially in the case of intellectuals. Intellectuals are often skeptics by nature, and they tend to automatically analyze things to see if they are logically sound before accepting them. The church cannot continue to ignore the highly intelligent people if it wants to remain relevant in an increasingly knowledge-based word.


Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s