I was watching the show Fringe last night because, well, because of course I was. I could tell you all about the show and the characters and the mythology and how the last 2 seasons have been lousy but I’m sticking around to see how it ends … but none of that really matters.
What matters is that the show had one of those “science v. faith” moments that were super-cool back when LOST was doing it, but turned cliché a few years ago. In the scene one character gave this eloquent speech on behalf of reason – how the universe all boils down to math, and probabilities, and logic and whatnot. The other character – playing the role of “wise, mystical minority who speaks in vagaries and understands the mysteries of the universe”* – responds with a shoulder-shrug, a condescending smile, and says “well, I believe anyway.”
*see: The Matrix, Legend of Bagger Vance, Field of Dreams, and Star Wars – Yoda was totally a minority race of some sort. Click here for more on why this is kinda racist: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagicalNegro
What annoys me about this scene isn’t that the faithless atheist figure got all the good lines, but that the logic-rejecting mystical soothsayer lady was the one the audience was supposed to root for. “Yeah, mystical soothsayer lady,” the writers wanted us thinking, “you tell that non-believer off with your blind, reason-averse faith system.” This person was the episode’s hero and those of us who are “believers” were supposed to feel validated I guess.
I found it insulting.
I’m sure the writers had good intentions, but this whole “science vs. faith” paradigm is not how a follower of Jesus thinks. Science vs. faith is just a reworking of a much older way of thinking called Gnosticism, which said there’s a spirit world, and a tangible, physical world. The spirit world is good and the tangible world is corrupt and fallen. Because of this, then, the spirit world and the tangible world are two separate entities that have little to do with each other.
This completely undercuts the mission of Jesus. He showed up to save the spirit and the body. That’s why he had a literal, tangible resurrection, complete with “human body 2.0”. It’s why He says the same thing will happen to us someday as well. It’s why in Revelation we’re told there will be a new heaven and a new earth. God cares about the physical, the tangible, the solid and scientific, because once upon a time* He created it and said it was good.
*lit. sometime 6,000-4.5 billion years ago
What this means is that in our pursuit of knowing and understanding God through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we’ll be understanding both the spiritual and the physical universe better. Science and philosophy and theology and eschatology and all the other “ologies” are all – at their most pure – the pursuit of understanding God. He is the endpoint of everything true.
This is important 1) because Christianity has gotten this unfortunate reputation of being “anti-science” which ultimately means we have nothing to say in any arena not directly connected to the Bible. This leads to 2) being nothing more than a nice mystical guide who doesn’t have a coherent thought in his/her head but who shows up at the end of TV shows to Yoda some sentence* and then never be heard from again.
*believe in the Christ Lord Jesus you must, yes
Or as someone* much smarter than me once said, “there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our existence, over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not say ‘mine!’”