Joined: April 2007
CHAPTER ELEVEN - Truth Seekers
|THE IMPOVERISHED VILLAGE OF EKU lies in the delta of the Niger River, near the crook in the elbow that makes up the western coastline of Africa. It was there that I learned a powerful and unexpected lesson.|
I had traveled to Nigeria in the summer of 1989 to volunteer in a small mission hospital...
|...it became abundantly clear that the majority of the diseases I was called upon to treat represented a devastating failure of the public health system. Tuberculosis, malaria, tetanus, and a wide variety of parasitic diseases all reflected an environment that was completely unregulated and a health care system that was completely broken.|
Overwhelmed by the enormity of these problems, exhausted by the constant stream of patients with illnesses I was poorly equipped to diagnose, frustrated by the lack of laboratory and X-ray support, I grew more and more discouraged, wondering why I had ever thought that this trip would be a good thing.
Then one afternoon in the clinic a young farmer was brought in by his family with progressive weakness and [other serious complications]
|The choice was for me to attempt a highly risky and invasive needle aspiration or watch the farmer die. I explained the situation to the young man, who was now fully aware of his own precarious state. He calmly urged me to proceed. With my heart in my mouth and a prayer on my lips, I inserted a large needle just under his sternum and aimed for his left shoulder, all the while fearing that I might have made the wrong diagnosis, in which case I was almost certainly going to kill him.|
|Nearly a quart of fluid was drawn off. The young man's response was dramatic. His paradoxical pulse disappeared almost at once, and within the next twenty-four hours the swelling of his legs rapidly improved.|
For a few hours after this experience I felt a great sense of relief, even elation, at what had happened. But by the next morning, the same familiar gloom began to settle over me. After all, the circumstances that had led this young man to acquire tuberculosis were not going to change.
|...this young Nigerian farmer, just about as different from me in culture, experience, and ancestry as any two humans could be, spoke the words that will forever be emblazoned in my mind: "I get the sense you are wondering why you came here," he said. "I have an answer for you. You came here for one reason. You came here for me."|
I was stunned. Stunned that he could see so clearly into my heart, but even more stunned at the words he was speaking. I had plunged a needle close to his heart; he had directly impaled mine. With a few simple words he had put my grandiose dreams of being the great white doctor, healing the African millions, to shame. He was right. We are each called to reach out to others. On rare occasions that can happen on a grand scale. But most of the time it happens in simple acts of kindness of one person to another. Those are the events that really matter.
Nothing I had learned from science could explain that experience. Nothing about the evolutionary explanations for human behavior could account for why it seemed so right for this privileged white man to be standing at the bedside of this young African farmer, each of them receiving something exceptional. This was what C. S. Lewis calls agape. It is the love that seeks no recompense. It is an affront to materialism and naturalism. And it is the sweetest joy that one can experience.
|So here, in the final chapter, we have come full circle, returning again to the existence of the Moral Law, where this story began. We have traveled through the sciences of chemistry, physics, cosmology, geology, paleontology, and biology—and yet this uniquely human attribute still causes wonder. After twentyeight years as a believer, the Moral Law still stands out for me as the strongest signpost to God. More than that, it points to a God who cares about human beings, and a God who is infinitely good and holy.|
|WHAT KIND OF FAITH?|
Most of the world's great faiths share many truths, and probably they would not have survived had that not been so. Yet there are also interesting and important differences, and each person needs to seek out his own particular path to the truth.
1 had never really thought of applying the word "sinner" to myself before, but now it was painfully obvious that this old-fashioned word, one from which I had previously recoiled because it seemed coarse and judgmental, fit quite accurately.
I sought to engineer a cure by spending more time in self examination and prayer. But those efforts proved largely dry and unrewarding, failing to carry me across the widening gap between my awareness of my imperfect nature and God's perfection.
Into this deepening gloom came the person of Jesus Christ. During my boyhood years sitting in the choir loft of a Christian church, I really had no idea who Christ was. I thought of Him as a myth, a fairy tale, a superhero in a "just so" bedtime story. But as I read the actual account of His life for the first time in the four gospels, the eyewitness nature of the narratives and the enormity of Christ's claims and their consequences gradually began to sink in. Here was a man who not only claimed to know God, He claimed to be God. No other figure I could find in any other faith made such an outrageous claim.
As had happened so many times with previous dilemmas, the words of C. S. Lewis captured the answer precisely:
But supposing God became a man—suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person—then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man. Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God's dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer
Before I became a believer in God, this kind of logic seemed like utter nonsense. Now the crucifixion and resurrection emerged as the compelling solution to the gap that yawned between God and myself, a gap that could now be bridged by the person of Jesus Christ.
| You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.|
Lewis was right. I had to make a choice. A full year had passed since I decided to believe in some sort of God, and now I was being called to account. On a beautiful fall day, as I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains during my first trip west of the Mississippi, the majesty and beauty of God's creation overwhelmed my resistance. As I rounded a corner and saw a beautiful and unexpected frozen waterfall, hundreds of feet high, I knew the search was over. The next morning, I knelt in the dewy grass as the sun rose and surrendered to Jesus Christ
I do not mean by telling this story to evangelize or proselytize. Each person must carry out his or her own search for spiritual truth.
|...if you are one who trusts the methods of science but remains skeptical about faith, this would be a good moment to ask yourself what barriers lie in your way toward seeking a harmony between these worldviews.|
Have you been concerned that belief in God requires a descent into irrationality, a compromise of logic, or even intellectual suicide? It is hoped that the arguments presented within this book will provide at least a partial antidote to that view, and will convince you that of all the possible worldviews, atheism is the least rational.
This chapter and, therefore, the main book ends with...
It is time to call a truce in the escalating war between science and spirit. The war was never really necessary. Like so many earthly wars, this one has been initiated and intensified by extremists on both sides, sounding alarms that predict imminent ruin unless the other side is vanquished. Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced. God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible. So let us together seek to reclaim the solid ground of an intellectually and spiritually satisfying synthesis of all great truths. That ancient motherland of reason and worship was never in danger of crumbling. It never will be. It beckons all sincere seekers of truth to come and take up residence there. Answer that call. Abandon the battlements. Our hopes, joys, and the future of our world depend on it.
This has officially become a chore. Therefore, I have no interest in slogging through the appendix where Collins expresses his views on “The Moral Practice of Science and Medicine: Bioethics”
Since it doesn’t look likely any of Dr. Dembski’s students are going to show up, I release the restrictions I placed for commenting to this thread.
I thank you for the patience and consideration generally shown here.