Why kind of truth are you after?

science-lab-test-tubes-mdScience is the investigation of the physical universe and its ways, and consists largely of weighing, measuring, and putting things in test tubes. To assume that this kind of investigation can unearth solutions to all our problems is a form of religious faith whose bankruptcy has only in recent years started to become apparent.

There is a tendency in many people to suspect that anything that can’t be weighed, measured, or put in a test tube is either not real or not worth talking about. That is like a blind person’s suspecting that anything that can’t be smelled, tasted, touched, or heard is probably a figment of the imagination.

A scientist’s views on such subjects as God, morality, and life after death are apt to be about as enlightening as a theologian’s views on the structure of the atom or the cause and cure of the common cold.

The conflict between science and religion, which reached its peak toward the end of the nineteenth century, is like the conflict between a podiatrist and a poet. One says that Susie Smith has fallen arches. The other says she walks in beauty like the night. In his own way each is speaking the truth. What is at issue is the kind of truth you’re after.

–Frederick Buechner
Wishful Thinking

The Preposterous Idea

Botticelli_NativityIf you do not hear in the message of Christmas something that must strike some as blasphemy and others as sheer fantasy, the chances are you have not heard the message for what it is. Emmanuel is the message in a nutshell, which is Hebrew for “God with us.” . . .  [T]he claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place God came to be with us himself. When Quirinius was governor of Syria, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One who inhabits eternity comes to dwell in time. The One whom none can look upon and live is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts himself at our mercy.

–Frederick Buechner

If He Had Not Been Born

babf7852ac8d4c376ca6800acc9a8fa4It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.

–Frederick Buechner