Justin’s Apology, ch 19-20

A few issues back, Wired Magazine ran a cover story about all the stuff we don’t know.  It was fascinating.  It reminds me that Justin’s argument about the resurrection still stands up, even in our modern age.  How do we really know what can or can’t happen?  Just because we haven’t witnessed it personally, is that enough evidence to reject a concept?  The Orthodox Religion of Modern Science would say yes.  How dare you believe in something without first offering sacrifices to the spirit of empirical evidence?  To defy their conclusions is to deny their god, thus banishing all people of faith the realm of “hackery”. 

I’m with Justin, ” …who’s to say we really understand all of God’s natural order yet?”

justin3.jpgChapter XIX.-The Resurrection Possible.

If you didn’t know anything about how human life starts, and someone were to show you a picture of a sperm fertilizing an egg and a picture of a fully formed man, with skeletal structure and intricate muscles and nerves woven under his perfect flesh; if you were told that that large and complicated human form would result from those simple, microscopic shapes, you’d say the person proposing that is nuts.  You’d demand more proof, you’d say you need to observe that in process before you’d believe it.  Yet, though we haven’t observed it happening, no sane man would deny that human life starts that way.

In the same way, you call our belief system incredible simply because you’ve never seen a dead man rise from the dead.  It’s no more incredible to believe that God will cause our dead bodies to come back to life somehow, someday, than it is to say that complex, intelligent, human forms come from microscopic sperm.  Just like seeds are planted in the earth and dissolve, only to grow again in a new form, so we believe that our bodies, though buried, will come back again brand new.

People will argue that there is a natural order of life and death and planting and harvest, and not even God interferes with that.  But who’s to say we really understand all of God’s natural order yet?  Even what we do observe is not fully understood; how simple organisms become complex life forms.  We don’t understand how that works, but we believe it does.  Yet, even if it is impossible with the natural order, we’d rather believe in this possibility than to live so hopelessly like the whole world around us who doesn’t.  Our Master, Jesus Christ said, “All kinds of things are impossible for the natural man, but with God, all things become possible.”  He also said, “Don’t be afraid of those who can only kill your body, and nothing else.  Instead, respect and be loyal to the One who you’ll face after you die, who can throw both your body and your spirit on the garbage heap.”

That garbage heap He referred to, we believe to be a place where those who followed their own will instead of God’s will as He revealed it, will be punished.

Chapter XX.-Heathen Analogies to Christian Doctrine.

Consider how Sibyl and Hystapes said that one day, God would wipe out all material things.  The philosophy of Stoicism proposes that even God Himself will one day burn up into nothing, and a new world will appear in the wake of this cosmic revolution.  We differ from their belief in that we believe that though God created all material things, He’s not susceptible to change or wear.  In quick overview, there are some things we teach that are right in line with what the philosophers and poets teach, and you honor them (though we don’t agree on all things; we believe we have a more fully realized concept of life given to us by divine inspiration).  Though we share much in common with current philosophical schools, and we are ready and waiting to give a full explanation about why we believe what we believe, we have been isolated and illegally targeted for punishment.  Can you give an explanation for this?

When we say that there is a God who created all that we know, and set the world in it’s order, we are saying the same thing Plato did.  When we say that one day the world as we know it will be destroyed, consumed by fire, we’re saying the same thing the Stoics say.  When we say that those who lived to satisfy their own lusts and desires will face an eternal punishment, and those who have been made righteous will escape punishment in the hereafter, we’re saying the same things the poets and philosophers preach.  When we say that it’s folly to worship something that’s been crafted by mere man, we speak the same things as the comic playwright Menander and others like him, who coined the phrase, “The one who creates is greater than the creation.”

8 responses to “Justin’s Apology, ch 19-20”

  1. Great stuff. I liked that “Things We Don’t Know” article. I fear that too often we Christians either ignore science all together or buy into acceptable theories too quickly and thoroughly.

    I would love to say for certain that the earth is 15,000 years old – but in truth God never says that. God may have even used evolution to create man, who am I to say what he did or did not do? I prefer the position that we don’t know, and that we are still very unknowing about much of this universe.

    (Of course, the objective man of science in me is still inclined to scoff at mainstream scientists’ views and much more compelled to believe in a 15,000 year old world. On the other hand, it is the hopeless romantic, the hedonist voice in my head that moans for the mainstream scientists to be right.)

  2. Excuse me, meant to write it as:

    “..or buy into acceptable theories too quickly and thoroughly.”

    Theories pleasing to the traditional understandings.

  3. Dang! One more try, I’m really not spamming, I promise:

    “…or buy into ‘acceptable’ theories too quickly and thoroughly.”

  4. Our understanding of time and space is limited to the perception provided by our senses. God is so big. Our ability to quantify and understand the universe that God created is limited to a very narrow view based on what we can see, hear, taste and touch.

    God gave us His Word and His Son in human terms making it easier for us to understand Him. So for me this is all there really is to know. The rest is just an interesting puzzle, an amusement, a gift of diversion to exercise the mind a little bit.

    Science, technology, and engineering are but extentions of feeble human attempts to grasp the extent of the universe that God created. For me, they are enjoyable pursuits that provide for meaningful work but they count for nothing in comparison to the Truth that God gave us in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. He died for us and rose from the dead.

    Poor Socrates. Being born before Christ he is quoted as saying, “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.” He was the smartest and most educated man in the world at the time.

    Perhaps if he was born after Christ he might have been quoted as saying that, “The only think I know is that Christ died for our sins.”

    To me the attempt to quantify the age of the universe in terms of how long we may think that it takes for the earth to travel around the sun seems like meer trivia. So many profess to know about the world and the universe. Yet the mysteries of the universe remain infinitely abundant no matter how many are claimed to have been solved.

    Thus, with all of the knowledge of man at my fingertips, my attention continues to fall back to the Word of God in the Holy Bible. I don’t feel so lost in the mysteries of the universe with my faith in the foundation provided by the Lord God our Father.

  5. Right on. Profound words.

    Note: Just for accuracy’s sake, I believe Socrates said that – as in The Republic – as a way of egging on his opponents and encouraging them his “Socratic Method.” He would start by saying like: “Well, I don’t know anything at all, but would you agree with this simple assumption…?” and then ask a super easy question that would lead into something more difficult or complex.

    Although, I may just be reading too much into his tone and am by no means a philosophy or ancient Greek scholar.

  6. Hmmmm.
    You two have started such a serious and intelligent dialogue…I’m worried that anything I might add to this conversation would sound like Beavis and Butthead going “huh…huh…shut up.”

    Seriously…I really enjoyed reading both your thoughts on man’s limited cognizance of the world around him, and himself as well. Good stuff.

    (By the way…I think Socrates actually said “Huh..huh…shut up!”)

  7. Speaking of engineering, which we were a little bit. It is always interesting to see the reaction of the other engineers (and managers especially) around when I would say, (when nothing was working), …”We need the help of God!”

    I personally, have started up (not always by myself) very large and persnickety machines connected to flakey computer control systems that did not want to behave in extremely harsh environments under totally stressful circumstances when others have failed with these words.

    Once the startup was accomplished, everybody seemed less interested(especially the managers) in what was the emphirical evidence that held us back. And I will just go on asking for the help of God and thanking him after every startup.

  8. Not spam, Brad set precedent correcting his post….

    In my personal experience, with these words, God has answered my prayer and helped me personally(and my team), to start up very large and persnickety machines connected to flakey computer control systems that did not want to behave in extremely harsh environments under totally stressful circumstances. This after others had failed before.

    (My command of the language is lacking but hopefully you understand the meaning; nevertheless, the testimony is real. It reminds more of your study of II Cor 12. Maybe you never thought God will help with big machines and control systems but I know he does when asked with the right heart, even at 50C below zero)

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