On Tuesday night we held the first of a new gathering at our church under the general title of ‘Deep Thought’. The name comes from the computer in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Deep Thought) that was built to come up with the answer to “life, the universe and everything.” Our new gathering is a safe space in which we can ask the big questions of life, the universe and everything.
We have a couple of ground rules: there are no daft questions and we must respect everyone’s perspective and understanding that they bring to the group, even if we disagree with them. On the first evening it felt that everyone kept to the ground rules, even when opposing, deeply-held, convictions were expressed.
We decided to start with the easy questions first so looked at evil and suffering. We went off on interesting tangents at times (which was fine so long as we did not go too far away) and explored some deep thoughts. The general response from those at the gathering was that it was good to do and we will do it again (once the Christmas rush is over).
I am very happy with the way the gathering went. I am also very happy with the premise of the group – that we can ask deep questions of God without offending him. It’s not that he does not mind us asking this big questions, expressing doubts, admitting that we don’t know all the answers (or even all the questions), and having differing opinions about some of the answers to some of the questions. I think he actively encourages it. Why else would he make himself known to us humans? Why else would he become incarnate and live among us? Why else would he provide us with the ability to ask ‘why’?
I believe that, far from undermining my faith in God, asking big questions of him and our experience of life can help to strengthen it. I can reason, discuss, debate (in the correct sense of the word, not argue), discern, discover and explore God and his world and the more I do so the more I experience of him, and the more I realise I don’t know or understand. The more I know, the more I realise I know less than I thought I did and the less I know the greater my appreciation of the One who made, sustains and is involved in life. [Sir Humphrey Appleby is alive and well!]
In the words of the desperate father who brought his sick son to Jesus: “I do believe. Help my unbelief.”
Be blessed, be a blessing
A college student was in a philosophy class, where there was a class discussion about whether or not God exists, The professor had the following logic:
“Has anyone in this class heard God?” Nobody spoke.
“Has anyone in this class touched God?” Again, nobody spoke.
“Has anyone in this class seen God?” When nobody spoke for the third time, he simply stated, “Then there is no God.”
The student did not like the sound of this at all, and asked for permission to speak. The professor granted it, and the student stood up and asked the following questions of his classmates:
“Has anyone in this class heard our professor’s brain?” Silence.
“Has anyone in this class touched our professor’s brain?” Absolute silence.
“Has anyone in this class seen our professor’s brain?” When nobody in the class dared to speak, the student concluded, “Then, according to our professor’s logic, it must be true that our professor has no brain!”
The student received an “A” in the class.