Posted by: Average Joe | April 7, 2011

Does Rise of Spirituality Affirm Scripture?

Sedona’s glorious red rocks rise as if to summon us heavenward, but too many focus on their navels instead.

Sedona, Arizona, should be on your short list of places to visit if you haven’t been there already. Stunning sandstone formations––especially at sunrise or sunset––and easy access to them will keep your camera busy.

My family and I visited Red Rock Country recently and, according to a brochure I picked up at the visitors’ center, 61 percent of visitors (out of 2–4 million annually) cite “spiritual healing” as a reason for coming to Sedona. Given the power of suggestion and by defining healing loosely, it’s easy to see how that percentage could be so high. (For that matter, even my wife and I could say we went to Sedona looking for healing. Of course, we wouldn’t have taken the kids along if this were true.) But I think what most people have in mind is more than the rejuvenation that comes from a leave-the-stress-at-home vacation.

With maps leading to “vortex sites,” shops selling healing stones (among other baubles), and spiritual advisors and practitioners of every stripe, there’s no shortage of spirituality in this town of 10,000. The New Age movement hit back in the 1980s and never looked back. Proprietors of a UFO store, perhaps more profit-driven than most, captured my attention with their many amusing signs.

Another sign read “UFOs are real. The government doesn’t exist.” I could have spent an hour reading their stuff.

Keep that 61 percent in mind for a moment as we consider an atheistic contention that religious expression (in particular, Christianity) is an evolutionary coping mechanism that, in an enlightened age, is now fit only for the weak-minded. In fact, a recent study suggested that religion may become extinct in nine nations. That’s a subject for a different post, but some of the countries in the report are also among those listed on adherents.com’s “Top 50 Countries with Highest Proportion of Atheists/Agnostics.” So, there’s not much of a surprise there, but I’d be interested in statistics for countries like China, Russia, and India, or continents like Asia and Africa.

Here’s where I’m going with this: Doesn’t the Sedona experience––and many others like it (Mt. Fuji, Mt. Shasta, other great nature sites)––validate a scriptural passage like Romans 1:25 that says: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator––who is forever praised. Amen.”?

Granted, this is a small slice of the landscape, but if the Bible is a human-crafted work, it would seem that consistencies of this kind would be fewer as time progressed and humans became more sophisticated. Instead, one can point to a proliferation of religions or generalized spirituality that fit the biblical description. Think of the burgeoning groups under the common rubric of “going green,” that smack of “creation worship” (creation care or stewardship is a different post; we won’t go there this time) and why there seem to be more and more of them.

Maybe it’s just a revival of paganism and I don’t see it. I’m an Average Joe, after all. Does all this generic spirituality bolster the Scriptures while giving a shin splint to an atheistic argument that the Bible is a mythical book? What do you think?

Resource: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men


Responses

  1. “Does all this generic spirituality bolster the Scriptures while giving a shin splint to an atheistic argument that the Bible is a mythical book?”

    No.

    A book promoting a religion stated that people won’t believe it. That’s not terribly specific, prophetic, or surprising.

  2. Joe,
    Sometimes I’m tempted to make that argument, but I think that it would be akin to me making some outlandish statement (like 2+2=5), then following it up with “…and people will reject what I said”. The fact that people reject what I said does not affirm the truth of my first statement. In fact, it is actually irrelevant.

    I have to quickly add, though, that the observation you make does not contradict reality (as mine would not too), and it is kind of satisfying to see that it is being affirmed more and more daily. But it certainly is not a valid argument one way or the other.

    Just as someone who wanted to believe that 2+2=5 should not gain any more confidence in the truth of that claim based on the truth of my second claim, neither should we as Christians base our belief in the truth of prior Scripture on the truth of that proceeding claim in Romans 1.

    I think that both believer and non-believer could read Romans 1 and say a collective “duh!” to verse 23. The only difference would be the reason behind it, and both sides could consistently account for the rejection.

    However, I see that Paul is specific enough to only speak of creation-worship. Which means that he is saying nothing about people turning to other non-atheistic religions. Paul is speaking of naturalists only. Here’s where I think there might be some promise for a test.

    I think that there is probably weight behind Paul’s understanding (shown in Romans 1) that naturalism leads to certain behaviors in humans (those listed out in verses 22-23). This would indicate an understanding of human psychology that probably was not common at the time. If this is true (granted that we’re not committing the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy), then we might have a case for transcendent inspiration of, at least, Romans 1:22-32. If we could demonstrate that the source of the inspiration was the Christian God (vs some demonic spirit giving such knowledge to trick someone into believing the truth of the first statement- like 2+2=5; or even a lucky guess on Paul’s part), then the “truth” that Paul speaks of being rejected is indirectly confirmed as true. But…there are at least 3 “if”s in there.🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: