Saturday, July 03, 2004

A Sense of the Cosmos

One of the most interesting philosphers I've ever read is Jacob Needleman. He's been around for quite some time, and has some fascinating books that deal with philosophy, religion and science; usually mixing all three in one book.

I'm currently reading the Needleman book entitled A Sense of the Cosmos, subtitled: 'Scientific Knowledge and Spiritual Truth.' His main thesis is that as sceintists have become more pragmatic and "scientific" in their approach to knowledge, they are actually moving further away from Truth rather than closer to it. [The capitalization of the word 'Truth' is intentional...]

His books are something I read for the shear pleasure of it...I'm not really looking to learn anything or get some sort of impartation. Yet reading Needleman's work, I find myself learning and understanding all sorts of things that I previously had little or no knowledge about.

While reading through Cosmos today, I came across this interesting quote given in the context of the Truth of the scientific quest:
We must therefore recongize that there is a great difference betweeen the wish for knowledge and the wish to satisfy desire, which is the basis of pragmatism. And that knowledge in the service of our ordinary desires may produce a very different picture of the universe than knowledge which is connected to other motives.
What Needleman is saying is that we often look at reality to find answers to our preconcieved desires and wishes, and often filter out anything that does not fit in with our preconceptions.

The reason this little bit of information is so valuable for Christians is due to our guilt at employing this very type type of filtering when we look at various things, especially the Bible. Even the most conservative Bible believing Christians has a view and interpretation of the the Bible that is often at odds with what the Word really says! Examples of this are the pre-trib ratpure doctrine, most of Calvinism (reformed theology) and views on a wide variety of things. Christians, especially evangelical and charismatic Christians, are often guilty of "proof-texting" favorite verses to support their various positions, rather than looking at these verses in the larger context in which they were written.

The Bible is not a dictionary, encyclopedia or telephone book where you can just go and look up a verse or two to backup your pet position--but that is, in fact, just how we raise up and train believers, even in the best conservative theological institutions.

What's the answer for this? Better teaching, especially teaching as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, who NEVER takes anything out of context!