Millennials, narcissus, and the future of the church” raised some important points. Blauer did an eloquent job of posing the questions, prompting lively dialog, leading many valid and important points. But wherever you fall on the argument, I want to ponder the question from a different angle than perhaps you’ve considered before.
Take a step back and think of where our society stands at this point in history. We’ve seen the industrial revolution, the automotive revolution, the electrical revolution and the computer revolution. Cell phones and pads glisten in the palms of our hands. Automatic coffee makers brew the perfect cup. And social media connects us into instant virtual communities. Now we’re on the cusp of a robotic revolution. Soon machines will mow our lawns, clean our houses, and who knows what else. Driverless cars will whisk us off to wherever we want to go while we play holographic video games in the back seat, and driverless trucks and drones will deliver everything we need right to our front doors.
Meanwhile, the religions of the world seem to be stumbling over their own feet. Before anyone gets too upset, I don’t fault religion; there’s really a lot to be worked out. The rapid increase in knowledge has created so many questions, and everything has to be understood within the historical context of traditional as well as contemporary faith. Religion is a stabilizing force because it does not move so fast. It’s going to take a lot of time, discussion and prayer.
But think about the contrast. If you were a Millennial just emerging into a new world, which would you pick? A glimmering, flashing cell phone or a broken stained glass window? I fully realize there’s much more to religion than the picture I’ve painted, but I’m doing this to show the disparity. Science is riding a 100-plus year wave of success while religion squabbles with itself. Science gets a tremendous amount of respect while religion gets very little. A couple centuries ago it was the opposite. Once again I’m not faulting those of faith; I’m just pointing out the obvious.
Now think about that housing bubble just a few years back. Our progress seems like it will go on forever, but bubbles always feel that way. That’s why they’re bubbles. When the stock market is rocketing upward, those buying at its peak always think it’s going up further, otherwise they wouldn’t buy. However, markets all have a business cycle; stock market averages go up and down; and civilizations rise and fall. My fear is that one day our technology will disappoint us. I don’t know what form that will take, but as a science fiction writer, I’ve got a lot of ideas.
What makes it scarier for me is that I hear such confidence in science. We’re like cosmic dark energy, expanding at an ever-increasing rate, but with scant religious or philosophical framework within which to understand that progress. We’re like a truck barreling down the highway with the throttle pressed to the floor. Where is the governor? Where does the road end? I don’t hear anybody asking those questions. It sounds an awful lot to me like the intrepidity in housing before its collapse. You have to understand that the world has never been here before. On what historical precedent is our confidence based? The fall of Rome? Nazi Germany?
When people are disappointed, they might return to traditional faith. But who knows? What if they embrace somebody or something completely new?
Bruce Meyer writes about the relationship between the physical universe and the pursuit of spirituality.
There ain’t no science book in the number one seller list.
Love will never get old or outdated and the gospel is a redemptive story and experience of God’s love. It’s a story that continues to change hearts and lives across the globe. It’s far more than “a broken stained glass window” and if that’s all you’ve experienced of God, I’d jettison that too.
What do you think of TM Luhrmann’s work. A Stanford (non-belieiving) anthropologist who has show the benefits of going to church in health and well-being. Her Atheists critics step over themselves like a bunch of Ken Hams trying to find fault with her work. Does their have to be a divide between science, a process of investigation and religion? I think their are forces comfortable keeping this divide as real even when there is no evidence for it. The GNU atheist and the fundy love to keep that divide, but is it real?
Wow Eric, did you somehow mistake me for Satan? I’m checking the top of my head, and I don’t think I have any horns yet? Perhaps you got lost and commented on the wrong post or something?
Maybe it’s my fault and my post isn’t very clear. Maybe I tried to communicate an idea that’s too complex for a blog post. My point was about the disparity in the last hundred years or so between the perceptions of science and religion from a Millennial’s viewpoint, but maybe it didn’t work too well. ‘Broken stained glass window’ was intended to refer to the problems such as the Catholic sex scandals, Islamic fundamentalism, the Christian right, etc. while at the same time science has had a long string of successes. Think about the difference in perception from someone just emerging into adulthood. I was making no statement about the veracity of any particular religion.
Earnest, thanks for your comment. I guess I’m not sure how it applies to my topic, however. Personally, I can certainly appreciate the work of Luhrmann, and I personally see no divide between science and religion. My post, however, was meant to display the perception of the long string of successes for science while religion has suffered in popularity. In much of the public mind, especially Millennials, I see a disparity between science and religion, and I see that as a particular problem, as I was hoping to convey.
Yep…must of read your post differently than you intended. Ah the wonderful Internet or it could of been the horns. 😉
“But think about the contrast. If you were a Millennial just emerging into a new world, which would you pick? f”
I did read you post. My point is that there is no picking, even though there are camps dedicated to keeping the supposed divided. Like the joke goes, How do you unite Gnu Atheists and Fundamental Evangelical Christians? Mention Francis Collins and what them join in a game of piling on the Christian Scientist.
On the run away science. What I worry about is how people attach “science” and even think they are doing ‘science” which leads to disasters. Take Eugenics as example. It claimed to be a science and that lead to so many deaths in Nazi Germany (and so many forced sterilization in our country). Science now claims that it wasn’t science after the fact, but during it heights, it was accepted as such and one could get degrees, publish papers and secure academic post as a scientist in this field. Science shook off any taint from this episode, but there are many others. My fear is when we human blind ourselves in out biases and then claim it as science. (Many have done so in religion.)
A traditional Christian may see science and their religion as compatible, but look at it from a Millennial’s viewpoint. Miracles and the virgin birth and biblical inspiration are not immediately compatible to a scientific culture. Millennials aren’t accustomed to talking about miracles and virgin births as scientifically acceptable.
Granted, in traditional Christian doctrine including Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, they work together. But even from my view as growing up in a Christian culture it has a contrived/forced feel. I see a steep uphill battle to convince Millennials of miracles and biblical authority, and with the recent successes of science, not likely for most.
How about some of these supposed “millennials” come out of hiding and speak for themselves. Are they the spawn of Bigfoot? How about they comment, write and speak up for themselves. I am reading alot about them…how about we read something from them? sPeAK uP Yeti’s or I am going to start asking Discovery Channel to do a special.
I don’t think God is up in heaven wringing His hands about whether millienials are going to be put off by His miracles. We humans are so intent on believing that it’s all about us. God is calmly and powerfully working out His plan to the smallest detail without the tiniest bit of our help or permission. My goal and amazing privilege is to influence as many people as possible to put their total faith and trust in the living Jesus Christ as I can while there is still time. To those who by faith trust in the Bible alone as God’s inspired Word, nothing going on in this world is very surprising, and none of the glittery tech devices are erasing any of the guilt or pain that the human race is feeling and never will. Only a new heart and spirit, supernaturally given by God, can give real hope and peace. He can and will and does. All that the Father has given to The Son will come to Him and all of the false science or other deceptions in this world can prevent it! Maranatha!
Rats, one typo in a crucial spot! Of course I meant that they can’t prevent it!
Thanks Dennis- good comment.
The progress of science is happening is a distributive fashion all over the globe and they are happening as a result of a billion different people employing a billion different agendas across the world. The speed of the increase is a result of a positive feedback loop, and it is not controllable by anyone.
My opinion is really pretty irrelevant.