Tuesday, May 3, 2011

If I Could Stop the Clock?

I am a Christian and I read Our Daily Bread, among other devotional material. I have also read Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist holy books as part of my spiritual journey. That said, I am also a skeptic. It's possible to prefer empirical evidence while simultaneously relying on faith to fill in certain gaps. Something always seems more real to me when I can see it with my own eyes, or understand it in my own mind, or say it in my own words. Occasionally this spirit-skeptic duality produces some conflict, and that is the reason for this post.

There are three types of evidence: facts, reasoning, and testimony.

(a) Faith and science overlap on many facts. For this reason, faith and science can be quite compatible, by and large. Things get more interesting as we move down the evidence ladder.

(b) Like most scientists, I am perfectly willing to use my powers of reasoning to develop additional understanding on subjects about which facts are few. For one thing, I use reasoning to develop testable hypotheses. For another, as a decision analyst, I use reasoning to construct evaluation measures. Most metrics might be all quantifiable, but the values in scaling those data are often highly subjective.

(c) Unlike many pure scientists, I am willing to listen to and take comfort from spiritual, intuitive, and emotional sources.  Unlike many pure believers, I am willing to aim my skepticism at even my own beliefs.

Which brings me to the point. Recently, while reading Our Daily Bread, May 1, 2011 I came across this prayer:

Father, our days are filled with pleasures and struggles.
We would like for life just to have the joys, but we knowthat’s not realistic in this sinful world. Help us to waitpatiently for You to bring us Home. Amen.

"Help us to wait patiently for You to bring us Home." I have to admit, these words had an unexpectedly negative impact on me. I cannot believe that Christianity is about waiting patiently for death. We all die. We all have some choice as to how to live the moments entrusted to us before we meet our fate. Sure, life has its ups and downs. Are we to believe that the Christian life is so weak as to render us powerless in bad times? We're just supposed to endure bad times and mollify ourselves with thoughts of the endless hereafter?

Wrong answer.

I say, life is for the living. Live! Be resilient. Fight back. Survive! Death will most assuredly come, but it will come in its own time. Do not waste a minute of life waiting for death or even imagining the hereafter. I believe God wants us to live and would be offended by such a prayer as this--but you'll just have to take my word on that.