This is the first of a series of fictional articles. The second, titled “Religion and Morality” and be found here. Here at ATP, the articles have been pushed out in a different order, but it shouldn’t matter much.
We were sitting in the back yard, my friend Al and I, drinking a beer. It was a warm summer afternoon. Al is a devout Christian, and I am a skeptic, unable to accept faith-based beliefs with no supporting evidence.
On this particular day, the discussion came around to evolution. Al is a very smart guy, with advanced degrees in engineering and computer science. He’s an “old earth” creationist, believing that the earth is billions of years old. He even acknowledges that evolution happens…on a very small scale. I think he’s a little bit embarrassed by “young earth” creationists who believe the earth is only 6000 years old, and that God created all living things at that time, and they remain exactly as he created them to this day. “There’s just tons of evidence proving that’s not true,” he says.
He’s convinced that God did indeed create Heaven and Earth and all living things, but that maybe the six “days” that He took to accomplish this were pretty long days. Maybe millions of years long. And he thinks that “microevolution”…the small changes observed in birds and insects as they adapt to their environment…is all part of God’s plan. But he is sure that God created Man (and Woman) to be special, and gave them the unique powers of Reason and Consciousness.
We argued about this for awhile, and finally I asked him a question:
“What if tomorrow scientists discovered incontrovertible evidence that man evolved from lower primates. Would you renounce your faith?”
Al refused to answer the question, saying that the premise was preposterous, and could never happen.
“It’s like asking me what I would do if science suddenly discovered that Manhattan is made out of Limburger cheese,” he said. “It’s a stinky question.”
We laughed about that, and he continued by saying that evolution theory was as full of holes as a Swiss cheese. I countered by saying that cheese with holes was better than no cheese at all, referring to the lack of any scientific evidence to substantiate Creationism.
Then, with a crafty look, Al posed this question to me:
“Suppose that Jesus walked up to us right now, and said he had returned to Earth. Would you accept him as your Lord and Savior?”
I knew what he was trying to do…back me into the same corner I had backed him into. I didn’t want to take the same exit, though.
“How would I know he was really Jesus?” I asked. “Anybody can grow a beard and skip a few haircuts. Robes like his are a dime a dozen in Riyadh. Is he going to show me his Social Security card or Driver’s License?”
Al wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easily.
“What if he showed you incontrovertible evidence?” he asked, putting special emphasis on his repetition of the word I had used.
“Well, then I would say the following to him:”
“Since you are the son of God, you must know everything that God knows, so please tell me, what is it with this Cosmos you created? Is there other life out there on some of those trillions of planets circling other stars? Is there some way around this speed-of-light speed limit so we can go visit those places? Why did you go away two thousand years ago and tell us to be fruitful and multiply, and now look what happened…we have overdone it and the earth is crawling with people and the ones who aren’t starving to death are trying to kill each other? Why did you give us all this technology without the wisdom to use it responsibly, so that we have trashed this beautiful planet, and are now threatening to destroy it with nuclear weapons, if we don’t pollute and deplete it to death first? Why did you create mosquitoes and rats and cockroaches? Why did you let us create SUV’s and donuts and Wal-Mart and Republicans?”
“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM US?”
“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?”
Al sat quietly with a little smile until I finished my outburst. Then he said, “God is infinite. His wisdom and creativity are infinite. If He answered your questions, you wouldn’t understand His answers. When you die, all your questions will be answered.” He paused. “You didn’t answer my question.”
We sat quietly for a minute, lost in our thoughts.
Then I noticed that our glasses were empty, and I rose to get a couple more cold ones. As I passed him, I punched him gently on the shoulder and said, “Hey, if there is a God, He will never let Jesus come back. He knows that I’ll just pester the Hell out of him with all my questions.”