(...No, not "God please keep this thing in the air because I don't comprehend how it will get there in the first place;" I normally pray that while ON the plane.)
I simply told God that I was available, if anyone on my flight might need to chat about Him. I figure that on a plane where over a hundred people are sitting there is most likely a needy soul on board, and if God so chooses to put us together maybe I could point that person to Jesus.
So, I board my flight and sit down.
"Isle seat," I think.
"Bummer. I prefer the window."
Next to me is a man--by no means petite--who will probably overlap onto my arm rest. Next to him, enjoying my coveted window seat, is a portly woman "Who," (whispers my neighbor man to me confidentially) "Really ought to have purchased two seats because I'm gonna be cramped this whole flight."
I thought, "Dani, you ought to offer to sit in the middle since he's bigger so he doesn't have to be cramped,"
I retorted, "Danielle! You don't want to be squished between a portly woman and a large man the whole flight!"
I'm sorry if you're grieved to hear it, but that retort quickly won the argument and I stayed firmly planted in my isle seat. However, perhaps in a guilty attempt to make my squashed neighbor's flight more enjoyable, I struck up a conversation with him.
The usual questions. I discovered that he was traveling to Cleveland on business, and that he was a geophysicist.
"Hmmm.... 'geo?' Something to do with rocks. Sounds smart. I feel intimidated."
I could have impressed him greatly by telling him that I was a Nutrix Humilitas Adiuvat (NHA for short) ...but I just made it up and it's merely Latin for "Lowly Nurse Aid..." So I just told him I was a caregiver.
We started to discuss his job, which led us to a discussion about fossils (most of which I didn't understand but nodded politely nevertheless) and then on to a talk about dinosaurs. The entire time we were talking, I was having an inward battle (I have those frequently). I wanted to discuss the topic of evolution vs. creation with him. But I knew that this fellow was a geophysicist, whatever that exactly means, and that made me feel very shy about discussing a scientific topic such as this with him. And yet, I remembered that prayer I had prayed. Maybe this fellow needed to have a talk about God with me. And perhaps a good way to get that talk started would be to broach the topic of the origin of the world. Was I willing to look like a fool? Was I willing to trust God to give me words to say if I got in a discussion with a geophysicist?
I took a deep breath.
"So...What do you think? Did dinosaurs and men walk the earth together?"
There. I had taken the plunge. That ought to start a doozy of a discussion.
And it did!
My new friend, whose name turned out to be William, gave me a knowing look and a patient chuckle. He already knew that I was "religious" and had guessed that I believed in the "fable" of Adam and Eve. Since I believe that God created the world, I believe that men and dinosaurs were created in the same week and they lived together. (I also believe that science backs this up.) But to him, as an evolutionist, my views seemed as preposterous as believing in fairies or Santa Claus. Thus began an amazing discussion which ended up lasting nearly two hours. William was a highly intelligent and scientific man, yet he respected the fact that I have obviously studied what I believe and don't simply believe it because it's what I've been told. We listened politely to each other and had a few good laughs over the incredibly wide chasm between our two beliefs. What's more, as we talked the conversation drifted further from evolution and closer to the real crux of the issue: is there a God, and if so, why has He created us and what will happen to us after we die? William realized that I was truly interested in his point of view and not just eager to share my own, and he opened up about WHY he believes what he believes.
"Dani, there's one big difference between you and me. And that difference is impossible to overcome. You see, I'm a scientist, and I only believe what I can SEE. What you believe requires faith. And I have no faith. I will never have faith. And so I can't believe."
I smiled. "You're right: it does take faith. And yet, you'd be surprised at how very much of what I believe CAN be backed up by science, William. I don't think that as a Christian I just have to accept everything on blind faith. I think there's a lot of proof and a lot of evidence to back up the Bible. And not only that, but I think that if you just look around you at the world, you can see that there MUST have been a Creator." I picked up a Coke can from the tray table and held it out. "When you see this can, you know that it must have been manufactured somewhere. Someone thought to put the handy pull-tab on the top and put the lettering on the sides. It would be ludicrous to say that the can just happened to fall together by chance, because it obviously has a design and a designer! So how can you say that something so intricate as this incredibly magnificent world---from the leaves to the birds to humans to rocks--just happened to appear out of thin air?"
William laughed. "Well, I don't believe it appeared out of thin air, Dani. I believe in the Big Bang. The world came to be from a super hot fireball of energetic radiation."
"I see.... Where did the fireball come from?"
"And where did the atoms come from?"
"Photons and particles, all mixing together..."
"What was the origin of the photons and particles?"
William paused. "Well I don't really know..." Here, I laughed. "Aha!! You see? You just told me that you are not a man of faith, and yet when you analyze your theory, you're eventually left with something that you must have faith in. You never saw the Big Bang occur, and you don't know how the first little particle got there in the first place. The fact is, William, you ARE a man of faith."
This thought rather horrified my friend, but he couldn't quite deny that the end of the matter required a bit of faith on his part, too. I encouraged him to ponder the evidence of a Creator and think of the implications if there truly IS an all-wise, powerful God who created us.
Our discussion wasn't a stressful, argumentative one. We were both stimulated and intrigued by each other's points of view. William even thanked me for the conversation in parting, and said that it was a rare conversation; one he'd only have perhaps every five years or so. I gave him a few things to think about, and he certainly gave me a few things to think about.
Why is it that faith in a theory seems so much less threatening to William than faith in a Creator? Logically, the chances of the Big Bang occurring are infinitesimal.... impossible, really. (If a printing press explodes do you end up with a dictionary!? You don't get order out of chaos.) And yet William would rather believe that butterflies, babies, and beaches occurred from a cosmic accident rather than that a loving Hand designed it all. Why? Because
IF THERE IS A GOD, WE WILL ANSWER TO HIM.
This, then is the end of the matter. To my new friend, it wasn't about what seemed to be the most logical theory. It was about the theory that he was least threatened by; most comfortable with. Eradicate God, and you have eradicated the need to be morally responsible to Anyone for anything. It's a bleakly comforting thought to some people, and yet it leaves them without any moral compass. (William couldn't even give me a reason for why Hitler was wrong in killing millions of Jews, or why a rapist or murderer should be punished. All he could say was "Those wrong deeds are against my personal code of ethics.") Oh, how SAD!
The truth of the matter? God has not made us to be so aimless and confused. He has put the knowledge of Himself into every man, and whether or not they admit it, they have to suppress the truth they are born with on order to claim that He does not exist. God is not a fool. He created us and has given us ample proof of His power. When we stand before Him some day, what will we say if we've refused to acknowledge Him in our lifetime? Will we pretend that we didn't know He existed?
A better way would be to ask Him to reveal Himself to us now.
If you doubt Him, then ask Him to show Himself to you.
He promises to do it, in James 4:8- "Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world."
I pray for William when I think about it. He seemed pretty set in his thinking, but who knows: the God who created the universe can surely create a tiny atom of faith in William's heart. Do you need faith? Then I pray the same for you.
So if you'd enjoy a bit of dialogue with me regarding this topic, write me. I'd love it. (My address can be found if you click on my profile.)
...And I make you a promise I didn't make to William: I won't make you the topic of my next blog post. :)