Back many decades ago when I was a young adult in University, I remember the religious studies department hosted a debate between an atheist biologist and a fundamentalist Christian on the existence of God. The scientist brought evidence of evolution, and the “how” of creation. There is no god behind the scenes making it all happen. We know this because we know now how it all happens. All the mysteries of the universe are, one by one, being explained by science.
The fundamentalist Christian on the other hand brought a profound trust in scripture, and personal experience of a relationship that they named as God.
The debate went back and forth, round and round, until it became clear that they were speaking different languages, trying to answer different questions, and not really listening to each other. Eventually the moderator called it by saying “a plague on both your houses”. Until you are willing to try to see the world through the eyes of the other, there will be no common ground upon which to build a genuine dialogue.
Seeing ourselves and the world through the eyes of another takes risk, humility, openness, trust. This Sunday as we continue our exploration of the early Christian community we hear the story of Paul in Athens. He is struck by the shrines and places of worship all over the city paying homage to the pantheon of Roman and Greek gods until he comes across shrine with the inscription “to the unknown god.”
What if, instead of holding our faith like a position to be defended, we took seriously how hard it is to know anything about God, the great and holy Mystery? What if we listened with genuine curiosity to the perspective of another, including folks who view life and faith very differently than us? What if we offered our view on the world generously and lovingly in the hopes that our perspective might bring solice, hope, peace, and joy to others? Maybe we might come to know just a little bit more about ourselves, our neighbors, and maybe, just maybe even God.
See you Sunday.