Today is the first day of the new semester. To my students: I hope you will find some answers in my classes. But far more importantly, I hope you will learn to ask the right questions. Here’s what I mean.
Christianity, I would argue, is true. If this were so, you would expect to see evidence of that truth staring you in the face everywhere you turn. So why do so many people seem to miss it? Part of the secret is learning to ask the right questions. For example:
If God isn’t there, then why is the world there? If the universe is just matter and energy evolving by chance, why has it bothered to evolve at all? Why hasn’t it just run down into a pool of useless entropy, since by the Second Law of Thermodynamics the usable energy in any system always decreases? Why does it behave so consistently? If things just happen by chance, why are all the natural laws the same today as they were yesterday? Why do we want things to make sense? Where did the notion of making sense come from? If intelligence and order were not put into the universe from the outside, how did they get here? If matter is such neat stuff that it has the tendency to evolve intelligence all by itself, why has it evolved a life form whose intelligence only serves to keep it from feeling at home in the cosmos that gave rise to it? Why does that life form have aspirations for love, meaning, purpose, and immortality, all of which are unfulfillable, indeed, meaningless, in a universe in which matter and energy are the ultimate reference point? Why does the universe make sense only up to a point? More importantly why does that fact bother us?
If man is not fallen, if his central problem is not true moral guilt before God, if he is not a sinner, then why do all the ink pens in the banks have chains on them? If education is really the answer to man’s problems, why is the venereal disease rate so high on college campuses?
Speaking of college campuses, why do students there talk about what they are going to do when they get out into the “real world”? Where in tarnation do they think they are now? When I taught at the University of Georgia, I used to tell my students that if they stepped off the curb in front of a campus bus, it would kill them just as dead as a city bus would–perhaps deader, knowing the people who drove the campus buses. Why did they pay all that money to take courses and then try to see who could get the least out of them? Do they really think they will suddenly become responsible and dependable workers just by moving their tassels when they have just spent the last four years practicing for the opposite roles? If you want to be convinced of the reality of the Fall and of total depravity, just try to teach the average college freshman to write a complete sentence.
It’s absolutely amazing the kind and number of things that make sense only if you believe the Bible’s version of who Man is!
Here are a few more.
Why do professional athletes make more money than school teachers? The answer to that is simple: they are the very best at what they do, and they obey the law of supply and demand. But here is a more difficult question. Why do postal employees and Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority bus drivers–who only need a high school education–make more than school teachers? And a still more difficult question: If we don’t care enough about our kids to raise them ourselves, but rather put them in institutions (ahem–day care) when they are six weeks old so we can so we can go out and make more money to buy essential items like Jordache jeans and BMW’s–if our kids are that low on our scale of values–why do we bother to pay school teachers anything at all?
None of these questions is answerable from outside the biblical world view with its framework of creation, fall, and redemption. The Post-Modern generation is suspicious of people with answers. So maybe first we should just be people with questions. Hey, it works on Jeopardy.
And here’s a real serious question. Why are missionaries, who read the Bible and who do not have BMW’s, Jordache jeans, or various other necessities of life, so often the happiest people you are ever likely to meet? If you think about that one long enough, you just might discover that the answer is about the greatest proof of the Christian faith since the Temple Guard had to be paid off to hush up the resurrection.
Donald T. Williams, PhD, is R. A. Forrest Scholar and Professor of English at Toccoa Falls College in the hills of NE Georgia.
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