First Things -- 3635 East Paces Circle, Unit 1414, Atlanta, GA 30326
A Story With a Message: Imagine for a minute that you are in a lifeboat with a group of fellow survivors. Food and water are very limited. There is the potential for storms that could swamp the boat, threatening the lives of all on board. The situation is critical. Ideas of what to do next vary – often conflicting. What do you do?
The first thing everyone on board needs to do is to calm down. The second thing everyone on board needs to do is to recognize there is such a thing as truth and that identifying the truth is critical to survival. What is the best way to do that? A key word here is “listen.” Everyone on board who has an opinion should be allowed to share their opinion and why they feel their approach is the best approach. After all suggestions have been shared in a quiet, calm way, the group can make an informed decision that offers the best chance of keeping everyone alive.
Unfortunately, emotions are likely to run high. Decisions may be made on the basis of who has the loudest voice or who is the biggest or strongest rather than what makes the most sense. A bully may dominate and ultimate put the lives of all on board in jeopardy – including himself – because his basic desire to “win” kicks in. At that moment, winning in the sense of getting his way, is the most important goal the bully sees. The search for truth got lost at some point along the way in all the emotion involved in arguing who is right and who is wrong.
Winning: The key point of the lifeboat illustration is that finding the truth is always the only real “win” in critical situations. In life, there is no more critical issue than origins. In a very real sense, every human being is in the lifeboat. In a very real sense, finding the truth is more important than “winning” by dominating those who disagree. In a very real sense, emotions and competitiveness are our enemies in the search for truth.
Tragically, the field of origins is more often a battlefield than a think tank. Many of those who believe in creation have strong feelings against those who believe in natural causes. That is true partly because they want to “win” and partly because, in a desire to “win” for the creation view, creationists have often been rude – if not hateful – to those who disagree. Why are Christians inappropriate in their approach to those who reject the Bible? Because in their desire to “win,” they have lost sight of what is appropriate behavior. Even if they are right, they are wrong and their approach is counterproductive.
That problem goes both ways. Proponents of natural causes have strong feelings against those who believe in creation. That is true partly because, in a desire to “win” for the natural causes view, supporters have often been rude – if not hateful – to those who disagree. Why are supporters of natural causes inappropriate in their approach to those who accept the Bible? Because in their desire to “win,” they have lost sight of what is appropriate behavior. Even if they are right they are wrong and their approach is counterproductive.
History: In every conflict, both sides have tales to tell of how they were mistreated by the other side. They may justify inappropriate behavior because they have been victims of inappropriate behavior. The statement, “You don’t know what they did to me!” is another enemy in the search for truth. Finding truth sometimes means we have to set aside the past – no matter how badly we have been treated. In the field of origins, both sides have exhibited inappropriate behavior at times in the past. There are no perfect people. We are fellow passengers in a lifeboat who have let our emotions get the best of us at times. But we need to know the truth and in order to do that, we have to listen some of the time and keep our minds open.
Reality: What we know for sure is that someone is wrong. Whoever that is should want to know they are wrong, because their lifeboat is headed the wrong way – perhaps to certain disaster.
At the end of the day, defending a wrong position is not helpful to anyone – including those we love. To identify truth, we need to work together. We need to take a deep breath, calm down, and recognize we are all in the same lifeboat. We need to recognize that emotions sometimes cause nice people to be less than nice, but even when they do, that does not mean everything they say is wrong.
What we want – what we need – is truth. If the Bible is telling the truth, it is critical for everyone “in the lifeboat” to know that. Christians who have points to make should be able to and should be willing to do that in a quiet, calm, respectful way and what they say should be given due consideration by those who disagree – recognizing that, if the Christians are right – their eternal destination is on the line.
On the other hand, those who support natural causes should be able to and should also be willing to make their points in a quiet, calm, respectful way and what they say should be given due consideration by those who disagree – recognizing that, if the supporters of natural causes are right – it is pointless to worship a myth. If we only go around once in life and after that, we simply cease to exist, we should live our lives with that reality in mind in order to make the most of the one short life we have.
If truth is Identified as truth,
and error is identified as error
We all win!