Prove It! – Essay 2

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If you are new to AD MELIORA we recommend starting at Essay 1 and progressing from there.  

Do you remember being a kid and attempting to debate grown up topics with friends?  I remember from my youth having a friend whose father was an atheist.  After hearing frequently his father mock and criticize theists and religious people, my young friend became rather indoctrinated.   By the age of 10, he could take up the arguments he’d heard a million times around the home and challenge classmates and children in the neighborhood.  To be that young and such a cynic seems awfully sad now as I look back.  In retrospect I suppose my childhood pal figured if he could convince us of his father’s arguments, he could convince himself.  Growing up in the 1970’s, it was not like atheists were unheard of.  At that time in the western United States it was beginning to become acceptable and even popular among some circles to profess an atheistic world view.

Now, as I said before I lived out my childhood in the 1970’s.  People today would be amazed if they knew just how slow information traveled in those days.  Important political events would be in the newspaper the next day, but there were others that would be major occurrences by today’s standards that you literally would not hear about for months or even years.  There was simply not the media access that we have today.  Magazine subscriptions were a big thing back then, but costly.  Most families might have subscribed to one publication.  Information beyond that you picked up through conversation or the periodicals section of the public library.

One of the more commonly used rationales at that time for dismissing the belief in a creator God was to argue the theory that the universe was eternal and without beginning.  It was a conclusion that something so immense and boundless could not have just appeared.  It must have been in existence forever.  The universe was also believed to have no outer limits.  We were taught as children that the cosmos extended into infinity, and that it went on forever.  This was considered scientific “consensus” for a period of time.  How long?  I don’t know.  I only know that it was taught to me in school and it had been taught to my teachers before me.  This theory of a universe without beginning, which was as prevalent as any other related idea of the day, was used by many atheists as “proof” that the Bible was a farce.  An infinite universe did not need a creator in their minds.  Therefore, the Biblical story of creation had to be false.  To them, it could be argued that if the first chapter of the Bible were a made up superstition, chances are it all was.  I will admit that as a searching child, the idea of a universe without beginning did make me question the Bible’s reliability….at least a little.  I guess you could say I had an open mind.

One day my friend came to school and he could not wait to bring up his favorite debate.  He asked if we had heard that a scientist had proven that God didn’t exist.  He insisted that it was a major discovery that would change the world.  There would be no need to go to church or to pray ever again.  The proof that the young man had, as explained to him by his father, was what we now call big bang theory.  No, not the TV show, but the theoretical model for the beginning of our universe.  A physicist you might have heard of, a young man named Steven Hawking, had published some research a few years prior that gave the big bang explanation real credibility.  My friend went on to explain to me, as well as a ten year old could, the workings of the big bang.  He added to the summary his father’s opinion that this “discovery” was a nail in the coffin of any scriptural belief in God.  My friend declared that the universe had only come about as a chance scientific occurrence spurred by heat, pressure, gravity, and chemical reaction.  In his new estimation the big bang made God a big bust.

That discussion has always stood out in my memory.  For starters, it was around 1975 and it was the very first time I had heard about a theory that is still highly thought of all these years later.  I equate it to what it must have been like to hear for the first time that the earth was round.  I also remember it vividly because I was shocked that my young friend (or his father) was interpreting the details of this idea very differently from the way I was: my way seeming like an obvious conclusion.  As my schoolmate explained this giant explosion that allowed everything we see to form from nothing, supposedly disproving the notion of the supernatural, I saw a Heavenly hand.  I saw day one of God’s creation.  I envisioned Genesis 1:1-5:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.   And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.   God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

The point of me telling you this story is not to argue for the existence of God or rather big bang theory is accurate.  The point is that my young friend and his father heard the idea of the big bang, a theory that might just be the most precise narrative we have ever employed for the existence of a Creator, and interpreted it as something totally contradictory.  How could a proposition claiming an exact beginning for concepts like space, time, and matter bring one to the exact same conclusion as a tale that denied the very notion of a beginning, stating that beginnings made no sense at all and were scientifically unnecessary?  My friend’s father had made his mind up, along with the mind of his son, that there was no God and that somewhere out there the proof was to be found.  This story is a clear example that that the search for proof often interferes with the realization of truth.  My friend’s father was not going to let the truth of the big bang interfere with his need for proof that God didn’t exist.

Enter into discussion like a child, wanting to learn and with a humble heart.  Trust yourself and listen to your conscience.  It is all you have and everything you need to spot the lie when it presents itself.  If you are an atheist I don’t expect this anecdote to change your mind.  However, I do hope to open it to the search for truth, not proof.  Whichever one you do set out looking for, you most certainly will find.

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