Throughout my college years I was told I often came across as condescending. This was never an intentional attitude, but the result of an extremely declarative way of speaking. When I believed something, I would pronounce it with the air of utter conviction. People called it condescending. I always preferred convinced.
And then Google came along and let much of the air out of my inflated opinions. Suddenly convicted pronouncements could be instantly fact-checked for accuracy. No one enjoyed undermining my rather numerous assertions of infallible truth more than my brother, Chad. He had a smart phone way before I did and took great pleasure in deflating my completely plausible diatribes. I would make a pronouncement and he would whip out his iPhone, calmly revealing my error (with a really smug look on his face, I might add). And even I couldn’t argue with Google.
Arguments that I used to dominate with the sheer volume and dogmatic confidence suddenly wilted under the suffocating light of truth (which was really annoying).
Today I am much less blustery (depending on who you talk to) but still keenly aware of this tactic of discourse.
Working as the Communications Director for a non-profit that routinely tangles with mainstream scientific reporting, I often deal with reporters who make vague pronouncements loudly, often, and without much interest in whether what they are saying is true or not.
And I find that this scientific condescension is not just targeted at those who question current agricultural practice, medical treatment options, or environmental policies. Media reports about religion are increasingly filled with condescension and outright antagonism.
And this antagonism goes beyond the historical battle between creationists and Darwinists. As science arrogantly marches into areas that it doesn’t fully understand, like genetic manipulation, religious objections are increasingly met with scorn and derision. In any arena where science butts up against religion, the media increasingly dismisses the latter as naïve, misinformed, and even dangerous.
Now, as a Christian, I know that I have something much better than Google to deflate these condescending windbags. My Bible clearly elucidates the truth about where we all came from and where we are going. It lays out the principles that govern man, his world, and the cosmos as a whole. It clearly establishes the limits of human scientific understanding and its relation to God.
Paul puts it this way:
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” 1 Cor. 3:19
But how do you convince a group who refutes that the Bible is anything more than a cultural artifact? Sure, I could point out that everything that the Bible has ever predicted has happened (something no scientific theory has ever managed). I could demonstrate the positive influence that this book has had upon civilization (when much of science has done the opposite). I could point out that if they are right and we are all just a random evolution of matter that even discussing these issues is pointless because our lives (and hence our arguments) mean absolutely nothing.
I guess perhaps the best thing I can do is cling to my faith, pronounce it proudly whenever possible, share with any who will listen, live it out joyfully, and trust that the ultimate fact-checker will one day reveal all truth, whether skeptics care to believe it or not. My Bible tells me that a day of judgment is coming (the Great Googling for purposes of this post) and I believe and declare this emphatically and expectantly. And I stand by this fact regardless of what your smartphone says!
Take that Chad (love you bro!).
PS- Here’s a headline for all you scientists- there is life on other planets. Google: Ephesians 3:10