Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Christ and Culture and the God of the gaps

Another of way of thinking about the relationship between the gospel and culture is to see the parallels with thinking about the relationship between science and philosophy. Brian Cox in the very readable Human Universe takes a look at the big questions of the universe. When it comes to the question of "why are we here?", his answer is a sort of philosophical version of the 'God of the gaps' theory, where the bits we don't know about are the realm of metaphysics. "All scientific 'Why?' questions end with 'I don't know' if you pushing far enough, because our scientific understanding of the universe is not complete." (Brian Cox, Human Universe, 168) For Brian the first cause of the universe, or thinking about the edge of the universe, are questions for philosophy until science furnishes a workable answer. In other-words, he is buying into the old fact-feeling split. Upstairs we have Romantic world of philosophy and religion and downstairs we have the hard factual world of science and reality. As if science and reality can be considered in the absence of philosophy!

There's a similar danger when we narrow our view of 'Christ and Culture' (aka Gospel and Culture) to a small band of religious activity; prayers, sermons and Bible reading on one hand, and then all the other practical dishwashing, ditch-digging and driving on the other hand. If we divid the gospel from reality like that we're inadvertently saying the gospel is about feelings, and the rest of ordinary life is about facts. But just as philosophy is required to make sense of all of life, all parts of culture are effected by either the good news or the bad news of the gospel.  It's worth remembering that just as we'd want to avoid a 'God of the gaps' theory when we think about Science and philosophy we want to avoid a 'God of the gaps' when it comes to the relationship between the Gospel and culture.