Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Matter of Faith, Part 1

    I imagine the scene: All I have to do is sign on the line and pay my $100 co-pay and they will drug me, deliberately give me hypothermia, crack open my skull, stop my heart, drain a bunch of blood from my body and stick a knife in my brain. I’d have to be crazy to decide to have that done to me right? But I can see making that decision under certain circumstances. I can see making it on behalf of a loved one or a child. Because, I just have that much faith in science.  

In case you didn’t catch the word ‘co-pay’ this describes a medical procedure. For certain rare cerebral aneurysms doctors know that letting them go untreated they will kill the person who has it sooner or later. But if doctors try to operate on it with the heart pulsing blood through the area it will kill immediately. So to operate they have to stop the blood flow, and they have found that hypothermia will allow someone to survive a short period of having their blood flow stopped. It’s been demonstrated that patients can live through this type of operation.
Really, though, I don’t trust science all that much. I know that science has come to a lot of faulty conclusions that it has had to revise over the years. A when you are talking about dealing with situations where there are uncontrollable variables, like medicine is, science can’t confidently predict the outcome of a specific case. In fact before I consented to the above surgery I would probably have to sign a paper saying I understood there was some risk of death from that surgery.

photo by Sibeaster, via Wikimedia Commons

I have much greater faith in God than in science. But in the post I would fail Abraham's test Rachel Held Evans scolds me for being ready to put as much faith in God as I would put in science. When Abraham heard heaven in Genesis 22, it didn’t just "sound like" God’s voice. Abraham had heard God before and knew from experience this was His voice. God had proven Himself faithful over the years. And in particular, God had worked miracles before in protection of the promise of His blessing to the bloodline of Abraham and Sarah. When God says “Take now your son, your only son,” I don’t think He is forgetting Ismael, I think He is alluding to the fact that Isaac is the only son of promise, the promise that God has proven Himself faithful to.
I don’t think Abraham was being any more immoral in trusting that God had a plan to preserve the promise of Isaac and make things right than we are if we trust our children's lives to a medical doctor, or an airplane pilot. Our minds have to stretch further to trust that which is beyond human comprehension, and our hearts much expand to encompass that fullness, and yet will still overflow, but there is no moral difference. I believe and hope that I would pass Abraham’s test.