How Great is our God

Question: do science and religion conflict? Oooh, how’s that juicy can of worms for you? So often we see these two ideologies pitted against each other in some sort of cosmic war. Scientists need practical evidence that God can exist. The religious don’t care about science, because God is bigger than all that. How can both exist in the same world? They both describe truths, so how can they both be correct? Mustn’t we all, in the end, choose one or the other?

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Watching my plant, Brontosaurus, grow gives me life.

I don’t think so. I love science, biology specifically, though I appreciate the other disciplines. And I’m totally committed to my faith. I think science and faith can be reconciled in ways that we just need to take the time to understand. I’m actually really surprised I haven’t written about their intersections before. So. Let’s dive in, shall we?

A lot of the questions seem to revolve around the origin of the universe and evolution.  We ask, how can the Earth be as old as science says it is, or how can evolution be possible, when Genesis says something else? Shouldn’t we trust the Bible, the source of truth? OR, shouldn’t we trust these cold, empirical facts that have been proven countless times? Nothing proves the existence of God, and how can we trust something we don’t have proof in? Now I’m not here to give robust, theologically and scientifically sound answers to these questions simply because I don’t have all of the knowledge necessary to do so. So I’m sorry to introduce those questions and then not answer them. But I still have something to say, as evidenced by the paragraphs of words below this.

I think the funny thing is that both sides have a limited view of God and a puffed up view of human knowledge. On the exclusive faith side, we fall into the trap of thinking we understand the Bible perfectly, that the way we have read it for all of history is the only way it can be read. I’m not saying the Bible isn’t true; I’m saying we need to give ourselves a little less credit and accept that maybe it’s a bit more complicated than the way we picture it, that we cannot understand it fully, that we cannot understand God fully.

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Every time I see Junior, the snail, I fall a bit more in love with the world.

And science has a similar story, saying, “The way we understand the universe is infallible because it matches everything we’ve designed for it to match.” I am reminded of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, where there are aliens (called beasts) who have been blind for all of their history. How do explain the concept of sight to them? We cannot assume that what is objective and proven by our standards is truth because maybe we don’t see the world as it purely and objectively is. And we cannot assume that we can explain God using science. We cannot even look to science as a method to prove the existence of God. Nothing can undeniably prove that God exists. Everything in life merely points to His presence, and we choose whether to accept this evidence or not. It’s not called faith for nothing. Again, I’m not saying that science isn’t good or trustworthy or useful, but we need to look beyond just ourselves.

But Brianna, you say, why would you say something so frustrating?? Why can’t our perception be infallible?? Why can’t we explain God and the universe with our own means??  I get the frustration, really, I do.

As with most things, I really wish that I totally understood God. So it’s disappointing when I just can’t wrap my mind around the concept of the Trinity, how Jesus can be both fully God and fully man at the same time, or even the concept of eternity. Those are difficult concepts! And I struggle with these, wishing I could just understand when I realize that by doing so I’m attempting to put God in a box. Who am I that I think I can understand God? The God who created the universe and laughter and spiderwebs, who knows every cell in my body and every place my feet have touched, who knows every single person in the same way. I think about that, and I realize how silly and small I am to be doing this. Not that we shouldn’t wrestle with hard questions, because hard questions are good. But I think there’s a lot of peace to knowing that we will never be able to wrap our minds around a supreme and holy God. Let God be as big and mystifying as He is, and just worship Him for that.

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Don’t get me started on how spectacularly amazing bacteria are.

In my own experience, studying science has done nothing but increase my faith in and awe of God. In my biology classes, I learn about the machinery necessary for
making new cells, machinery so specific it blows my mind. I learn about how robust our bodies are at fighting diseases and keeping cancer at bay. I learn about microscopic creatures that can do so many amazing things, and we haven’t even discovered all of them yet! And God created all of that! It’s incredible! I look under the microscope, and I see the beauty of creation, the wonder of life. Just the other day, I was sitting in my dorm room and thinking about how God knows every single particle in my dorm room, how I don’t have a concept of how many particles that is, and that’s only for a tiny room in the city of Williamsburg, in the state of Virginia, in the United States, on the Earth, in our Solar System, in the universe. Just….wow. There are no words.

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A Word from Your Christian Friend

I recently came across this post about the privileges Christians have in this country. And I know that, as a Christian, I cannot speak to the persecution that people of other faiths and beliefs experience. And maybe they are the “right people” to talk about Christian privilege. But I think another perspective might be valuable on this issue, so here I come.

20140104_120152It’s true. I have a lot of privileges as a Christian in this country. Wherever I go in the country, it is never difficult to find a place to worship. Almost everyone I come into contact with will have a basic understanding of what I believe. I have gotten off school for my religious holidays all through public high school, and I will get off for Christmas at a public university next year as well. While sometimes exaggerated a little, my faith is not caricatured in the media in the same way that others are. And, this part breaks my heart, I will never be called a terrorist or some other derogatory term because of my faith (oh, and by the way, terrorist jokes are not funny. End of story.). Yes, I’m privileged. And it’s sad because there is a lot of stereotyping and prejudice that goes on for people of other faiths or beliefs. And I’m sorry that people don’t respect or make an effort to understand those beliefs.

Privileges like these are definitely a blessing. But I would also say that they encourage apathy within the Christian church. If I say I’m a Christian, I could be anywhere from a just-going-to-Church-on-Sundays type of person, or I could be a Gospel-preaching-praying-loving person with Christ at the center of my life. The post I’m using as my inspiration mentioned that our faith can be part of our identity without it being defining (I’m not the “Christian friend”). But why not? What would happen if Christians let their faith be defining? Why can’t I be the “Christian friend?” There would be more questions, debates, and maybe even attacks, if we started being more open about our identity in our faith. 

As terrible as it seems, there is something to be said of the faith of the persecuted Church. It’s inspiring listening to people who have almost been killed because of their faith. I have it so easy.  

I can’t say what everyone’s response to the knowledge of our privilege should be. For me, I am thankful for posts like that to make me aware of everything I take for granted. I know that I really don’t understand what it’s like to be stereotyped, discriminated against, and attacked because of my beliefs. The funny thing is that I actually was a religious minority, but I left when I was nine. So it doesn’t really count.

But honestly, I think the real response to this should be discussion. We may not believe the same things, but we can still be friends. We can still talk. I can still respect this piece of your life, and you can respect mine. It’s not too difficult, guys. 

Epylle Spydre 

What We Should be Doing Instead of Yelling at Each Other

So there’s thing that’s been in the news recently (at least it has been in Virginia) called same-sex marriage. And for the longest time I’ve been decidedly torn on the issue. I’ve known that I love the people themselves, but I wasn’t sure about the topic of marriage. I can’t help but see both sides of the debate, but I guess that’s better than screaming at the people on the other side for not agreeing with me. And I think that (the screaming, that is) is part of the problem. Actually, it’s a big part of the problem. People are so stuck in their ways, unwilling to listen to the other side and make a compromise. Well, compromise is my middle name, so here goes.

So on the one side you have the “progressives” who say, among other things, that committed monogamous relationships between two people, regardless of their sex, is better than many of the abominations in marriage we see today that are still legal.

On the other side of the issue are the “traditionalists” who state (on the grounds of religion mostly) that marriage should be between one man and one woman and that’s it. As a committed Christian myself, I can’t deny seeing the truth of that statement. Marriage was made to be between one man and one woman for life. Anything less than that is simply not what God, as our loving Lord and Savior, intended for us. 

But look around you. Where is there anything or anyone that is functioning exactly the way God intended for us? The point that gets lost in translation in this argument, this war of words, is that no one is a sinner on the mere grounds that they are gay. No, we are sinners because we are human. It’s a part of our nature. We have all sinned, you, me, and everyone, and none of us are perfect. People just make a big deal about homosexuality, but they could very well be making a fuss about lying or stealing. I think it’s a shame that we spend so much energy arguing about this issue instead of preaching the Gospel. 

Maybe instead of condemning people to hell through our hatred of their “outrageous sin,” we can love them anyway and invite them to join us in heaven. What does condemnation do? Absolutely nothing. Zilch. It just creates an even larger barrier between us and people who desperately need God’s hand of love. This is not to be confused with conviction. Conviction leads to repentance and is based on love, but condemnation just creates hate. Think of conviction like me telling a friend that she can’t just eat junk food all the time. I tell her this because I know there’s something better for her, and I tell her in a way that makes that simple fact clear to her. 

Marriage, at least in the US, is not a religious matter. It’s a legal matter. And I can totally see how people can feel like second-class citizens just because they’re denied this right. Arguing about the morality of same-sex marriage is not going to change who’s gay and who’s not. It’s not going to change how many people enter into all sorts of broken marriages that are destined to fail. The only thing it’s going to change is the perception the world has of Christians. And that perception is not going to be pretty. 

I shall close with this last thought, written by Russell Moore in a Christianity Today article titled “What Did the Supreme Court Really Change Today?”. I could never hope to say this in a better way, so I leave you with his words: “It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done. It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.'”

ImageEpylle Spydre

Of Zombies and Heroes

Hey all, I hope you’re having a wonderful time. I would like to start this post with two disclaimers: 1) this post will be rather theological, so if you don’t like that stuff, don’t get offended; and 2) I will be talking about the movie Warm Bodies a bit, so if you don’t want to know the ending, stop reading now. 

I can see that I’ve thoroughly confused you. What does theology have to do with Warm Bodies? It will all make sense, dear readers. I promise. 

So, you have probably heard of the term, living dead. It’s used to describe things like zombies and vampires and sometimes Ringwraiths (for the purposes of this blog post, I will mostly be focusing on zombies). But you may not have heard the term used to describe people. Now I’ve really confused you. Let me elaborate.

We are broken creatures. Nobody is perfect; we are all given lives that will take us through failure and pain. It’s just a fact of life. And from a theological angle, we may be physically alive, but most of us are spiritually dead. We are the living dead. And you can take that in a lot of different directions, but I’m going to shoot for zombies.

Why do we have such a fascination with zombies? Because we see our spiritual selves reflected in their physical bodies. Of course, zombies lend themselves to many different venues, so they also make for excellent creators of suspense or points of conflict in movies and books and even haunted houses. But what gets us the most is that “living dead” characteristic. It’s a paradox. We love paradoxes. We love anything that messes with our minds. And when it’s a paradox buried inside of our souls, it becomes almost irresistible. 

“Cool,” you say, “but what about all the other things we like? What about superheroes, and hobbits, and all of our childhood heroes? They don’t have that paradox.”

You see, we’re fascinated with zombies because we see ourselves in them. But we love heroes because we long to see ourselves in them. We want redemption. We want to be good and true and loving. We want to be soon for the good creatures that we are, not the broken ones. 

That’s what makes Warm Bodies such good literature for this blog post. Because Warm Bodies isn’t just a zombie movie. It’s a beautiful picture of redemption of those that look as if they have no hope. Most of us probably focus on the adorable love story in Warm Bodies (did you notice all those Romeo and Juliet allusions?), but it’s really about the liberation of those in bondage to a condition that they did not choose. 

So, we may be fascinated with zombies, but we really want to be modeled after the heroes. We want to know that good triumphs over evil, that justice reigns, and that all will live in peace. After all the blood and gore and suspense, we want to rest, knowing that all is well.

Epylle Spydre

p.s. here’s a really cool song to go with the post. Jonathan Thulin is way underrated, so you should check out more of his stuff (the “Bombs Away” and “Babylon” music videos are particularly fabulous). 

There will be a Day

Hey everybody! Thank you to all my new followers and all the people who liked the last post. Seeing all the emails about likes and followers kind of gave me a blogger’s high post last Friday… Sorry for not posting since then. I would have blogged more over the weekend, except that I was busy and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to talk about. And yesterday, I was so uninspired that I wanted to write about writer’s block. But for your sake, I decided not to. But I am inspired today! Yay! Okay, here we go…

I am a devoted Christian. I’m not going to hide it, and I really hope that fact doesn’t drive anybody away. That would be kind of sad, especially considering what I want to talk about today. Anyway, I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but I still have friends of different religions and philosophies: Muslims, Sikhs, Atheists, etc. I find it quite exciting, because I’ve always loved learning about cultures and religions that I’m not familiar with. But not everybody’s like that. Clashes over opposing philosophies occur frequently. There are so many egotistical hotheads who like to get into religious debates just for the heck of it. And then there were the Crusades. And nowadays, when religion comes into play with issues like abortion and gay rights, it just gets ugly. 

It’s so sad. And the worst part is when the so called “religious people” are just going through the motions. For example, it’s not uncommon to find nominal Christians in the US. What’s uncommon is finding real, Christ-following Christians. And when people of other religions and philosophies see these hypocritical “Christians” who aren’t actually living it, they don’t take them seriously. They get angry. They also get angry when people make quick decisions based on faith and aren’t willing to talk about it. This, of course, is not true of all faith-led people. That’s another sad thing: religious people are seen as close-minded and hate-filled people, and non-religious people are seen as ignorant and arrogant. Which, of course, is not true stereotyping at all. The few people who fit these descriptions gave bad names to all those who don’t, and now it’s not helping to reconcile those two groups.

Some people think that more legislation and political action is going to solve this problem. It won’t. Rules will do absolutely nothing to help, because right now, there’s just a whole lot of hate going around. And you know what the antidote for hate is?

Love. Genuine, true love that says, “We may believe different things, but that’s not going to come between our relationship. In fact, because of my love for you, I am going to stick with you, even when we disagree.” You may know you’re right. You may think you’re right. You may not know what to believe. But that shouldn’t come between you and another person. Sure, you can talk about religion and philosophy. You should talk about it, if it’s important to you. But hatred and arrogance are not going to solve anything. They’re not going to convert anyone to your cause, faith, or philosophy. 

Personally, I want everyone to know the deep, deep love of God. I want everyone to be saved by the blood of Jesus, the blood that saved me. It pains me to see people following paths of self-destruction, and I await the day when there shall be no more tears or pain or hatred. And because of those beliefs, I am able to love others more deeply, more freely, and more truly. 
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(I borrowed this picture from Google, please don’t eat me.)

Enjoy the lemonade,

Epylle Spydre

To Choose or Not to Choose? That is the Question

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been awhile. A very long while, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve just had work that I didn’t think I was going to have and after working all day, it takes an awful lot of motivation to get onto the computer and write a blog. It’s just so much easier to watch a movie or read a book, which I’m actually really enjoying. So yeah, I’m sorry. I’ll try to be more regular with my posting, but school starts soon. So this place will probably disappear for a little bit, only to be resurrected during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter breaks, etc.

As I said, I’m really enjoying my book, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I’d really recommend it, it’s lovely food for the brain. Now, I could go and talk about ethics and human life, but I already did that in another blog post, “A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small”. So, I’m going to go on the other route, and talk about choices. Why are we given the pure gift of choice? When can we make good choices?

Choice. Why do we have it? If you believe in a God, you ask, “Why did my God give humans the gift of choice? We’re so STUPID!” (just as a note, I’m not trying to exclude all you polytheistic people. I’M NOT TRYING TO BASH YOUR RELIGION, I’m just trying to make it easier on myself by not having to deal with awkward tense situations.) Back to the topic, I believe the answer is very simple: if we didn’t have the gift of choice, we wouldn’t be able to choose that God. In practically every religion you come across, God doesn’t just let people go on and live their life (except Deism, but that’s really complicated). More often than not, God wants something from people, whether that is obedience, love, service, worship, etc. But think about it, if we didn’t have free will, we wouldn’t be giving those things willingly and whole heartedly. It’s like if you made robots or puppets worship you. It doesn’t satisfy you, because it’s not the subject’s choice. It all came from you, but that doesn’t help you know that you’re a good god, or a scary god, or whatever type of god you wanted to be. By giving choice to humans, God gives us the ability to choose Him, and therefore we are the evidence of His success. There’s my answer to that one. And if you don’t believe in a god, then well, I can’t really help you there. (Once again, not trying to bash your beliefs. Please don’t get upset at me. I didn’t do it on purpose. I love you anyways, please love me, too.)

This next part is more connected to the book. The book is all about whether the main character, Anna Fitzgerald, can make choices about her health that could save or hurt her sister. That’s the gist, folks, and it’s not a spoiler. It’s a really good book, you really should read it. But the point is, what gives us the right to make choices? How do we and those around us trust to make good decisions? Just face it, we make TONS of bad decisions. So, why do we keep making decisions? Why don’t we just become paranoid and hide ourselves in a closet with tons of Purell? First, BECAUSE WHAT IF THAT’S NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE? Second, because frankly, we want to have a life. A closet won’t be the place where you meet your one true love. Unless they’re paranoid too, in which case, you guys will make a very unusual couple…. But third, because I think it’s just a habit of humanity. We can’t do anything without making a choice, even if they’re not conscious ones. Finally and perhaps most philosophically, we want to be able to continue making choices. Free will, the ability to choose, is what makes us different from animals. We admire animals: their beauty, strength, swiftness, cunning, cuteness. But we want to be different from them. So we make the choice to make choices. It’s choice-ception! And even though some of our choices don’t turn out to be the greatest in the world, they give us nice, little reality checks. They remind us that we do have free will, that it’s a gift, and that we should try to use it wisely. So can we trust ourselves to make good choices? Of course not! But we make choices anyway.

Cheers,

(cue lemonade clink)

Epylle Spydre

An Anti-Mean People March!

Earlier this year, I was at a friend’s party, and we were playing a game, though I don’t remember what it was called. The object of the game is for one person to read out a question, and people write down anonymous answers, and the “Chooser” guesses who answered what. One question was, If you could go on a march for some cause, what would it be? So I think a little, and I lean over to the friend on my left and ask her, “Do you think I could make up an “Anti-Haters” March?” And she says, “Sure! But no! Make it an “Anti-Mean People March”! It would be so you!” So, even though the point is to put down answers that the Chooser won’t guess, I put down an Anti-Mean People March. I’m sure you can figure out who the Chooser guessed when she saw that one… But it was still fun to put down that answer, and it’s become somewhat of an inside joke between my friends and I.

So here we go on my Anti-Mean People March, er…Rant.

You know what bugs me? People who get upset and angry and start hatin’ for no real reason at all. Like the whole Chick-fil-A issue. That issue just bothers me, ‘cause it’s so stupid. Seriously, one person can’t express his opinion without one person taking offense, and another person taking offense at that? And suddenly, everybody’s taking sides, and people don’t even remember what the issue’s about anymore. It’s called FREEDOM OF SPEECH! Seriously, you’ve never come across people who don’t have views that are different from yours? Especially on the same-sex marriage debate. Practically everybody except for me has some sort of view about the rights of homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual people. And the reason I don’t have a view about rights is because I’m not into politics. I’d rather concern myself with what I can do for these people. And for me, that’s love. Yup. Love.

It’s really sad, because a lot of the haters of these people who have different sexual orientations are Christians. But they’re not being real Christians. They’re not following in Christ’s footsteps and loving people. What happened to “God is love”?!? Anyways, I’m not going to rant. Too much. But still, I know a couple people who are homosexuals and bisexuals, and I love them. I don’t love their sexual orientation, but I love them. There’s a difference. But a lot of people don’t see that difference. So, here’s my anti-mean people march. God is the one who saves and heals, and God can bring these people to the sexual orientation that pleases Him. Please, if you are a homosexual, bisexual, or transsexual, don’t get offended at me. I know that God loves you, and because of God, I love you too. So, this actually isn’t just an Anti-Mean People March, it’s a LOVE MARCH!! Yay!! I’m like Martin Luther King, Jr., spreading my opinion in a friendly, peaceful way J

But I can’t stand how some people say, “God HATES gay people! Gay people are going to HELL!” AGH! Seriously people, you are so narrow-minded!! Go, check your Bible before you start making judgments for God about people you haven’t even taken the time to know and understand. And these people who just need love hear all this HATING that’s going around! And they assume that all people believe this, and that God DOES hate them and so do all Christians and that the Bible condemns them but all that is NONSENSE! Sorry, it just really bothers me. There’s the protest part of my march right there. The point is that God loves gay people. In the Bible, Jesus says, “And love your neighbor as yourself”. He didn’t add, “Except for homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual people. You can love the prostitutes, love the murderers, love the thieves, you can even love the Gentiles, but don’t you DARE love people with different sexual orientations as yourselves.” NO! That would have been ridiculous! But that’s how people interpret the Bible, and it’s STUPID! People really need to broaden their horizons, and learn a little bit of love.

We’re on a love march people. It was a misnomer the whole time. Because even the mean people deserve love, which is why I’m not calling it an Anti-Mean People March. I love you. Yes, you. I don’t care if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, a Democrat, a Republican, a Christian, an Atheist, a Buddhist, a lover, or a hater.

But I love you.

Epylle Spydre