"I did not then in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word in the bible... Whilst on the Beagle I was quite orthodox and recall being laughed at by several of the officers for quoting the bible as an unanswerable authority on a point of morality". Charles Darwin.
"Woe to you, teachers - you who travel across land and sea to make a single convert to your cause, and thereby make them twice the child of hell as yourself!" Jesus.
I was sent an ' it's up to us' video link on Face Book this morning. The message was 'they' (the people with money) have imprisoned us (the people with less) and 'we', from inside ourselves, can make things different - we just need to change the way we see and thereby do things.
The Victorians had the same approach.
They'd become locked into an orthodoxy which said everything was fixed, but change was in the air. In no time at all, the old, supposedly immovable beliefs about the world would be swept away and everything would be replaced by the unstoppable progress of the new truths, scientific and therefore correct, about us.
They may have stopped believing in Noah's flood, but the deluge they encountered released by Lyell's work on Geology and then Darwin's about the natural processes of life, was overwhelming and changed the world forever.
It left us with a new tyranny, just as crippling as the old.
'Nonsense!', I hear you cry.
We have decades of lovely natural history programs and lots of broad statements by 'those who know' to show just how true all of that material is -
we are products of chance in a blind universe.
It's simply untrue.
Some twenty years ago, Molecular Biologist Michael Denton published a book* which exhaustively examined both the history and the empirical data behind Darwin's theory, and showed that whilst natural selection's 'special' application of change certainly applies within nature, allowing change within birds, plants, lizards and so forth, this in no way supports or validates the general theory that is vital for the essential and crucial assumption to be true - that this process naturally produced life, and that nothing else was required.
This remains entirely unsupported. Countless decades of study, discovery and research have left this assumption without merit - that's what the data shows.
Since that book, Denton and others have gone on to show that there are, in fact, numerous kinds of variation within nature that have nothing at all to do with the natural selection process (i.e. survival), but clearly show other factors are at play which have far more to do with elegance and even extravagance.
The consequences are clear.
Evolutionary theory is an answer to existence which fits as well as seeking to produce a star drive by employing a piston engine - it doesn't have the depth or scope to begin to deal with the real nature or splendor of what we are, or what's going on.
So why is it still paraded at every opportunity as the answer?
In the chapter on how the theory became cardinal, Denton makes a very telling observation:
"Once a community has elevated a theory into a self-evident truth, its defence becomes irrelevant and there is no longer any point in having to establish its validity by reference to empirical facts". In those circumstances, he notes, dissent is viewed as irrational and no more than irritating.
Such orthodoxy is the mark of all murdering, tyrannical error.
The religious leaders Jesus encountered in His last years were of similar inclination.
They had their irrevocable truth, handed down by angels, no less, on the burning slopes of Sinai - there could be no jot or tittle refuted.
Except they were wrong, root and branch.
Granted, the Law they trusted had a place, just like adaptation in nature, but it wasn't what made them, what was truly required of them... or us.
These 'orthodoxies' leave us dead, naked and alone, craving only what our greedy flesh can gain or achieve for itself, and then we might be a tad magnanimous, so long as no one rains on our parade.
Jesus tells us truth as it really is.
We're lost (1). We're blind (2). We're empty(3), and we cannot change that.
Thankfully, there's a "BUT" (4) at this point.
He came to set us free from our constructed pretenses, our chains that we are deluded into seeing as our freedom. He came and healed, died and rose, so that you and I can be far more than blind and empty fools, living on a broken ball spinning down to extinction.
We all know that Love is the greatest, so why do we run from the deepest, richest, truest love that can be known?
Because we have to throw away our orthodoxy.
We have to leave behind the lie that we can make it, that we have what it takes.
We have to abandon ourselves to the love that gave all to set us free.
Truth isn't just a set of cold propositions in a theory or a religious moral code.
Truth is a burning, living grip upon all we are, body and soul, to draw us up from the darkness into the furness-like light of purging grace of saving, refining love - love that emptied itself totally on a cross to rescue you and me.
Here, even in our dark little corners, we can still see there's so much more, but to be clothed in that splendor, we have to drop our pretense, our contrivance, and stand naked in the light.
He alone is able to save us totally (5), because He broke the agony of us to do just that.
Come, says Jesus, and I will set you free (6).
The Good News:
1. Luke 19:10 - "I have come to save that which was lost".
2. Matthew 15:14 - "If the blind lead the blind, both will fall".
3. Mark 8:36 - "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but looses his soul".
4. Ephesians 2:4 - "But God, being rich in mercy, even when we were in sin, made us alive in Christ".
5. Hebrews 7:25 - "He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to Him".
6. Matthew 11:28 - "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest".
*Michael Denton. "Evolution: A theory in Crisis". Still available via Amazon.
Denton's recent work, "Evolution - A Theory still in Crisis" is also available.