September 27, 2011

Dinosaur Pee

I remember being in grade school and learning about the water cycle. We were taught the the earth has a closed system, and no new water is introduced. Therefore all rain is water that has evaporated, raised into the sky, cooled to form water vapour, condensed, and then falls back down to the ground.

However there is one in every class. You know the person I mean , the one who connects odd things together and asks strange questions. I won't lie I have often been that person, but not this time. Someone, I don't remember who asked the question; 'is the water we are drinking dinosaur pee?'

My teacher was somewhat taken back but after she thought about it for a moment she sheepishly agreed that yes the water we drink, cook with, and bath in, was at one time dinosaur pee. And as it turns out the American Water Resources Association agrees (sort of).

So it's true! We are in fact drinking dinosaur pee.

Now you may be wondering why on earth am I talking about dinosaur pee up on this blog? After all this tends not to be a blog about science in general or water or dinosaurs. Instead it is a blog about the Christian faith. So what does dinosaur pee have to do with the Christian faith?

Let me try to answer that.

Lately I have been thinking about one of the New Atheists favourite lines, 'Religion Kills'. It's catchy, it has some zing to it, it sounds controversial, it's easy to remember and it is true.

Well sort of true anyway.

I think saying religions kills is true, but it is is the same kind of true as saying rainwater is dinosaur pee.
Dinosaur drops keep fallin' on my head...cause I'm never gonna stop the dino pee
by complainin' Because I'm free Nothin's worryin' me

When someone tells me religion kills, I find myself frustrated. I know they are waiting for me to try to make the argument that it does not. And if I were to try to do so they would simply tromp out their favourite examples of religion causing death to show me I am wrong (The Crusades, the Inquisition and the witch trials, tend to make the top 3 of everyone's list). After they make that point they then jump to the conclusion of their argument. The world would be a safer and nicer place if religion were to disappear.

So what do we say about this? Do we turn tail and run? Do we try to offer apologies on behalf of the church? Do we try to make the counter argument that everyone who committed such acts was not 'really' Christian? The last two are possibilities, and many people opt for them. 

But allow me to suggest something else. I like to encourage the person that is making that statement to try to take a broader view of things. I am, I suppose, somewhat of an amateur historian and I have noticed people will kill;
Because their gods/God told them too
Despite the fact that their gods/God prohibit killing
They believe there is no gods/God out there

Likewise people will kill in the name of;

Any known deity, Jesus included
For justice
For peace
For money
For land
For liberty 
For self defense
For honour
For progress
For science

I could go on but I hope I have made my point. I have come to the inescapable conclusion that cruel and greedy people are experts at explaining why their cruelty, murders, wars, and other despicable acts are justified. 

Yes sometimes the justification is religious in nature. But other times it is not. In fact I suspect during the 20th century more blood was spilled in the name or societal progress, genetic purity, and justice than have ever been spilled in the name of Christ.

Finally one last thought. The story of Christianity is not about a God who is angry and seeks to kill, maim or destroy. Instead it is about a God who came to earth and became a victim of religious and political violence. Christ did not command violence, he commanded us to follow him, to take up our cross like he did in order to gain salvation. That to me is a very profound truth we have yet to full unpack.

So is the statement religion kills true? Yes; but only in so far as the statements politics kills, science kills, or hey that glass of water used to be dinosaur pee, is true.

Enjoy your next drink. I know I will.