Having thoroughly debated the issue of procreation, I have been thinking for a little while that it was time to find another subject, but I could not get around to writing about it. Thankfully, Newsweek offended me enough to fuel my writing spirit.
In an article titled “America the Ignorant,” David A. Graham pointed out what he saw as the imbecilic things Americans believe. For instance, 20 percent of us think the sun revolves around the earth (apparently we need more astronomy in schools), three quarters of Americans could not name two members of the Supreme Court (it is not like they are important) and 21 percent of us believe in witchcraft. Wait, don’t Christians believe that can happen?
Read enough books, watch enough television, and the article’s author makes sense. Witchcraft, magic, and miracles sound ridiculous because science does not recognize them. Science has as credentials the improvements in our lives; doubt science and you question the benevolent source of computers, the Internet, and your automatic coffee maker.
Yes, our beliefs contradict the popular skeptic-scientists, but for Christians, this is essentially an image problem. We need to demonstrate that belief in the supernatural (both good and bad) is not intellectual suicide so that people, like the author of the Newsweek article, do not think we are superstitious primitives. And the answer is relatively simple: Christians simply believe that the observable physical laws do not represent the limit of what is possible.
It sounds like a phrase from a science textbook, and that is exactly why it works. I once said this to someone who was a kind of agnostic, and he was impressed by the answer because it sounds reasonable. The answer acknowledges that science has some validity–and science certainly does–but it also places a limit on science–the observable laws do not constitute the sum total of what is possible. This is the kind of public relations the church has done for 2,000 years: take a Christian answer and put it in terms that non-Christians use.
This is how not to sound crazy. Saying you believe that a man could be in league with the demons and thus able to affect some kind of magic sounds crazy to most people when they are typing on a computer, but if you first explain that there is more to the universe than physical laws, and that a belief in God makes belief in the supernatural reasonable (thank you C.S. Lewis), then they might be willing to listen when you because they now think you are a rational person, even if you believe that the dead can live again.