Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Problem with Christianity

I found two very interesting quotes from a couple hundred years ago about Christianity in The Age of Wonder that struck me as fundamental:

John Adams criticizing orthodox Christian beliefs of British scientists: “They all believe that great Principle which has produced this boundless universe, Newton’s universe and Herschel’s universe, came down to this little ball, to be spit upon by the Jews. And until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.” P. 167.

Percy Shelley writing in a note in Queen Mab:" The indefinite immensity of the universe, is the most aweful subject of contemplation … It is impossible to believe that the Spirit that pervades this infinite machine begat a son upon the body of a Jewish woman … The works of His fingers have borne witness against him … Sirius is supposed to be 54 trillion miles from the Earth … Millions and millions of suns are ranged around us, all attended by innumerable worlds, yet calm, regular, and harmonius, all keeping the paths of immutable Necessity."P.391.

Anyone who blames Darwin for the pervasive assumption of atheism in the public sphere should look farther back. What I find fascinating about these two quotes is that atheism (Shelley) and "strong" Deism (Adams) are really not all that different. Both are offended by the idea of the Incarnation. And both quotes specifically mention Jews, as if that's supposed to make the reader recoil more? My response to both of these quotes is, yeah, that's pretty much the offense of the gospel right there. But really, why is it somehow unthinkable that a creator of a vast universe should know the number of hairs on our heads, or the thoughts in our brains? Why is a God of the big somehow exclusive to a God of the small? Why does it make sense to observe the immense power that must have set creation in motion and then to deny a continuance of that power to the present day? I can see where these quotes are coming from, but I just don't agree. Instead of saying "it ain't so" like Adams and Shelley, I see this possibility as an occasion for wonder, that the God who made this would take on flesh and die after 33 short years. Maybe this is the divide of faith.

No comments: