Monday, March 30, 2009

Selling Our Soul at the Crossroads

Do you know who Louis Giglio is? In our Sunday School class we’ve been watching snippets from the movie Expelled along with some video of Giglio performing preaching. I guess the point of these sessions has been to reassure all of us that evolution can’t take our God away from us. At least that’s how it’s felt to me—a big warm hug and it’ll all be okay as long as there’s Intelligent Design. Huddle round the wagons, folks, the atheists are coming. So we hear some scientists speak vaguely about a first cause and how nothing so complex could just come about spontaneously and the big bang as God shooting the starting gun, and then we listen to Giglio wax poetic over the wonders of the universe.

I find this sad and problematic.

First, I think Intelligent Design is a lot of hooey. There’s nothing wrong with evolutionary theory. It works just fine. Why can’t we get over the debunking of a 7-day creation? It’s like we feel the need to stand heroically in front of God, protecting Him from the light sabers of science.

I don’t see how it makes any difference to science if scientists acknowledge God. Does it make any difference to my pipes if my plumber is Christian? So what if we say God started it all? God started it all and then, well, ah, oh, evolution carries on. Or, no, I guess we have to have God tweak it all the way along. Who knows why we had dinosaurs. One of God’s fun experiments, I guess. Maybe they existed just so we could have fossil fuel. Not very far-thinking, though. And hominids, what were they all about? Did God love Neanderthals? Gee, we’re back to the same bloody questions we had in the first place.

On to Giglio. Maybe he’s a fabulous guy. Maybe he’s an amazing preacher and loves God a whole bunch. Me, I tend to distrust preachers who fill auditoriums and sell tickets to their worship services. Giglio loves the universe. Its beauty astounds him. That’s great. He’s got lots of beautiful photos. The universe is beautiful. God’s creation is astounding.

Then he starts talking about something called laminen, a protein molecule that “holds us together,” as he puts it. He shows us a diagram of the molecule. It’s in the shape of a cross. Lots of ooos and aaaahs. Then he shows us a picture of laminen taken by an electron microscope. There’s the cross again, a bit squished and toppled. More hushed admiration.

Alarm bells are going off in my head. Is this guy telling me that God built us out of crosses just so he could make a point gazillions of years later about Jesus dying on a cross? Is that what he’s saying? That God would do something so ridiculously pointlessly stupid just so we could stare slack-jawed at a photo as if we were watching a freak show? Does laminen even really look like this?

No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t look much like a cross at all, actually. Or no more than about a billion other cross-shaped things in the universe. If a cross (as we know the cross) was even what Jesus was nailed to. I don’t think anyone drew a diagram at the time.

Next he shows us photos of constellations. Lots of wowie zowie isn’t this just fab-u talk. He has a letter from an astronaut that acknowledges God (take that, you atheists!). I decide to pass over the “eye of God” comments. I give Giglio the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t think the center of the constellation is literally God’s eye. We see a photo of the furthest constellation that’s been photographed. “Now I’m going to take you even further out,” he says.

Oh, no. He’s going to show us a picture of the crucifixion, isn’t he? He’s going to be that obvious, that banal. Yep. He beams and nods sagely as the audience laps it up. But that’s not all. For the grand finale we get to see a special photo of a constellation, with, you guessed it, the shape of the cross in the center.


Evangelism has sold its soul to the scientific method but still can’t tell the difference between metaphor and reality.

Do we really think that if we pile up enough scientists who believe in God it will erase the doubts and fears raised by what science reveals? If we see enough crosses in the world, will we finally be certain that God’s eye is watching us?


  1. You have just witnessed the "dumbing" of America. We will be destroyed from within by religious zealots I am convinced!
    I hope you are well!

  2. One time I thought I saw the Virgin Mary in my Cheerios, but it turned out to be one of the Olsen twins.

  3. Hi Shell: I have to drop by soon. Hope you've gotten used to the new procedure.

    JP: How did they fold the Olsen twins into a box of Cheerios?

  4. The dumbing down goes along with fundamentalism. It is scary. Stupid. I guess I'll have to google this Giglio person to find out about him.

  5. When my mother didn't take us to church as children I walked by myself once on Easter and made all my siblings angry cause they had to wait for their baskets:) I felt like we should have been a part of a church, like it was one more way she failed us. Now, though, 40 years later, I feel so fortunate that I was able to come to my own ideas about God, from the messages I feel like he presented in my life, no slick dudes standing in the front of multi-million dollar churches:) My belief is unquestioning and I'm completely comfortable, compared with people I know who spent years in catechism and were completely turned off. I don't know how you are able to sit through sermons like the one you describe in this entry. It wouldn't work for me. Obviously, you're using your brain and thinking too much for the average attendee.

  6. I saw that video in youth group. Much to ooo and aaaah over but not much reality.

    Also, Intelligent Design or Evolution. Either way is fine with me. Although the latter should be taught in school.

  7. Hey, I was just thinking: did you know a lot of people think the Big Bang Theory is actually about a big bang? I thought that too, until my seventh grade science teacher pointed it out to us that the BBT is about the gradual expanding of the universe, or some such. Maybe I should read up a bit more on the subject.