In Part 1 of "Don’t Be An Idiot!” we saw how religion, advertising, entertainment, eastern, and western worldviews have all joined hippie icon Timothy Leary in chanting, “Death to the mind!” In Part 2 we turn to how Jesus can help defibrillate our minds back to life, how He can help inspire us to a radically counter-cultural intellectual vitality.
Among other things, Jesus is “the Logos“ (John’s first title for Jesus in John 1:1, and where we get our term “logic” from). “In the beginning”—that is, before an expanding universe, before the beautiful bundle of organic dust called “earth,” before scientists and philosophers to scavenge around the earth searching for answers — before all of that Jesus, the Logos, existed. By verse 3 of John’s gospel this Logos creates “everything” (one reason why there is an underlying logic to the universe, detectable patterns, order, symmetry, elegance). Long before Einstein’s massive genius realized that E=mc2, the mind of Jesus grasped this insight into mass-energy equivalence. Why? Because He thought it up. He thought up the elegant chemical equations that generate nuclear fusion in the hot core of collapsing stars. The dazzling fireworks of a supernova to blast these heavy elements into space dust were His bright idea. ”The heavens are the work of [His] hands” (Heb. 1:10). The seemingly chaotic and unpredictable swerving of subatomic particles leaves our brightest physicists scratching their heads. It is like basic arithmetic to the Creator and Sustainer of the quantum world. “In Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). There are limitless mysteries of creation that leave us feeling small and stupid. He sees them the way a great architect looks at the most simple doghouse in his backyard.
Putting the “Logy” in “Biology”
From this perspective, Johannes Kepler could define science as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” (When Kepler discovered that a planet’s trajectory through space is not a circle but an ellipsis, he discovered the ellipses that originated in Christ’s thought life.) Indeed, every truth-seeking discipline is, at its best, thinking Christ’s thoughts after Him. “All things were created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16). Every “logy” in its truest form—theology, cosmology, psychology, biology, kinesiology, etc.—is a branch growing from the living trunk of Christology. How does the Logos understand that Scripture, that anomaly in space, that quirk in the human psyche, that primate life cycle, that cardiovascular system? When we come to see all truth as Christ’s truth, we join the Psalmist in singing, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them” (Psalm 139:17)! Beginning with Jesus, we wrestle with honest questions, analyze the Bible, other religions, politics, nature, math, music, and everything else, not to sound smart or stroke our egos, but to worship. We glorify a supremely thinking God by thinking.
A Revolutionary Command
When we bow before this Jesus He is not like a televangelist slapping us on the foreheads so we fall backwards into a mindless, concussive stupor. Rather He becomes to us a Rabbi, a Teacher, taking us by the hand, opening before us the whole wide world, beckoning us to think, to explore, to ask, to become irrepressible lovers of truth, to see things He made His way and through His eyes. In the words of His greatest commandment, we come to “Love God with all [our] minds.” There is something revolutionary about obeying this greatest commandment, literally revolutionary. The 17th century witnessed the Scientific Revolution in the Western world. Listen to what motivated the scientific revolutionaries from their own pens:
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, had intended for us to forgo their use." —Galileo
“God ever geometrizes.” —Kepler
“[Direct your scientific studies] to the glory of God and the benefit of the human race.” —Charter of the Royal Society
“Science is a religious task, the disclosure of the admirable workmanship which God displayed in the universe.” —Boyle
“The spacious firmament on high with all the blue ethereal sky and spangled heavens a shining frame their great Original proclaim.” —Sprat
“Whence is it that nature doth nothing in vain: and whence arises all that order and beauty which we see in the world? How came the bodies of animals to be contrived with so much art?... Does it not appear from phenomena that there is a being incorporeal, living, intelligent?”—Newton
Is Plato Lord?
So why are so many Christian minds dead to science these days? Why the culture war between religion and science? Why a spiritual obsession with the next world that renders this world unimportant?
It was Plato who taught that the visible is a shadow, that matter is an illusion, that the world around us is a dingy prison constructed by a sinister deity called the “demiurge.” In a biblical worldview, the good Logos made the visible, material word and called His work “good.” The extent to which we go along with anti-scientific, question-dodging, world-disengaging faith is the extent to which we are calling Plato, not Jesus, Lord.
Let us repent of our Platonism, and bow instead to the counter-cultural, revolutionary, world-creating and engaging Logos of the Bible! What are the specific intellectual virtues we can learn from this Logos? Stay tuned for “Don’t Be An Idiot!” Part 3.