Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Coffee Talk: God & Epistemology

I was at my favorite coffee shop this morning solving all the problems of the world with a colleague when the young man at the table next to us chimed in with a couple of comments on our problem-solving skills. We were talking about music and shared with him James McMurtry's CHENEY'S TOY (which you can find at McMurtry's MySpace page but which will not link here for some reason).
None of which is particularly interesting (except for the song, which is a biting anti-war piece). But as our conversation continued and we introduced ourselves as pastors to this young senate staffer the talk turned more compelling.
I invited him to visit us at Clarendon and he politely declined saying that he was not religious. Indeed, he said, "there isn't a place for God in my epistemology."
It was an intelligent, respectful way to decline an invite to church. I was getting ready to leave before the threatening storm so I couldn't follow up, but I hope to run into him again. I'd like to ask him about both his epistemology and his idea of God.
How does God fit into the way we comprehend the world around us? What difference does it make if such comprehension does not include God? What difference does it make in the way we comprehend the world if we understand God differently? That is to say, in terms that are particularly pressing in our present context, does a conservative, evangelic Christian understanding of God lead to a different comprehension, understanding, or knowledge of the world that a post-modern Christian understanding of God? (This is a blog, not an encyclopedia article, so I’m not diving into definitions.) Moreover, would a secularist’s understanding of God lead to a still different understanding of the world?
Or, perhaps, there is no difference between the secularist’s understanding of God and the conservative, evangelical Christian understanding of God. If that is the case, then they are seeing themselves in the mirror and it’s no wonder there is such a gulf between them.
I don’t know, but I hope the young man takes me up on the invitation; his voice would add something important and compelling to the conversation.

1 comment:

Christian Wright said...

Interestingly enough, he came to church last week and joined us at a pot-luck lunch after worship. When the folks he wound up sitting with asked him what brought him there he said, "I don't know." That's about as honest a response as I can imagine, and I can't help thinking of Paul's line to the Greeks about what you don't know (or, more accurately, what you worship as unknown) we call God. Or, maybe better, what you don't know is how to fill the God-shaped hole in your heart and maybe something going on at a faith community might point in a fruitful direction.