Better thinking

After watching a splendid sermon entitled “Anti-Intellectual” by Michael Krause, in Southridge Community Church’s UnChristian series, there were many things I agreed with and was intrigued by.

One such thing was a quote (turns out, so says the internet, that it’s rather popular… I’ve never heard it) by St. Augustine from his “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” written in 408 AD. (His meaning of the word literal is different than what you’re thinking):

“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens and the other elements of the world, the motion and orbit[s]… about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such and embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.”

Now, there’s probably a lot of things I could follow up with after this quote, but I think it’s rather obvious that since the 5th century there have been plenty christians who’ve done such disgraceful and dangerous things.  Least of these things would be the Kirk Cameron Banana video.

I’m just going to keep things simple and in thought with the sermon.  I apologize if these things are rather redundant.

  • Scriptures are not to be treated as science textbooks.  Therefore, don’t give the creation story in Genesis 1 a timeline of 7 “earth?” days (or a timeline at all – St. Augustine would say it all happened at once).  Giving it such a timeline is similar to agreeing with the Sun rotating around the Earth as written in the book of Ecclesiastes.  On this topic Galileo says:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

  • The primary role of scripture is to describe the redemption of the universe through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and through the spirit filled community of the Church.
  • To in-errants, theologically, the age of the Earth is a matter of indifference.
  • In reading Genesis 1, one must engage with the history of the ancient world – especially the text of the creation myths of other cultures, engage with systematic interpretation of the genre of literature that Genesis 1 is, and engage with all that modern science has validated.

Nearing Michael’s conclusion he states that Genesis 1 both is and is not history, its definitely not science, and is primarily theology.  Disagree with this because of better thinking, not less thinking.

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Part 1, David Orr’s “What is Education For?”

David Orr’s, “What is Education For?”, from Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect.  (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2004, pp. 7-15).

Orr begins with a plethora of rather down-to-‘earth’ statistics, letting us know that everyday we lose: 116 square miles of rainforest (an acre a second), 72 miles of land to desert every day, 40-250 species (whether it’s 40 or 250 no one knows).  The human population will increase by 250 000, and we’ll add 2700 tons of chlorofluorocarbons and 15 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  He notes that in the year 2000, “perhaps as much as 20% of the life forms extant on the planet in the year 1900 will be extinct.”  Orr lets us know that the loss of land is due to human mismanagement and overpopulation.

The effects of all this are much more important than the statistics:

The truth is that many things on which our future health and prosperity depend on are in dire jeopardy: climate stability, the resilience and productivity of natural systems, the beauty of the natural world, and biological diversity.

I wonder if these things are truly what our future health and prosperity depend on.

Orr changes gears.  He describes that this – our overpopulation and mismanagement – is not the work of ignorant people, but by very educated people.  He compares this to what Elie Wiesel points out: that the designers and perpetrators of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald – the Holocaust – were the heirs of Kant and Goethe, widely thought to be the best educated people on earth. But their education did not serve as an adequate barrier to barbarity.  “What was wrong with their education?” Asks Orr.  He uses Wiesel’s words:

It emphasized theories instead of values, concepts rather than human beings, abstraction rather than consciousness, answers instead of questions, ideology and efficiency rather than conscience.

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