Thursday, 19 November 2009

The irony of saying there is no God

I was watching a Horizon programme which I'm told will be interesting on linguistics, which I find fascinating. But I've just stalled on the opening premise, which is the complete mystery of how humans uniquely have the innate ability to speak! "How did this ability evolve? Why is it uniquely human?" "When you start to think about it, it seems miraculous!" "We know an enormous amount about the first few fractions of a second at the commencement of the universe, but we really know very little at all about what makes us human and where language comes from."

There's an elephant in the room. He's called the Word. We're made in His image. In the image of a God who spoke and the universe happened. We're his testimony to the rest of creation, to the animal kingdom, of who he is - truth in community, the one who speaks graciously to make covenants which depend entirely on his speech-action, the one whose words always does exactly what he sends it to do. He breathed into us his breath, and we became different to the animals. We speak, we communicate, we commune. We are in the image of the God who is self-revelatory community.

We have rejected the author of our speech, the Word, so our speech is frustrated, and we mis-communicate and lie. We have refused the one who spoke in self-giving love to build the universe, and we use words to hate and murder rather than to love and build up. We are like the talking animals C S Lewis portrayed in
The Last Battle: we refuse to worship the Word, the one who gave us his breath, so we become dumb. So when he wanted to redeem us to restore that image, the Father sent the Word, who took the lies, the mocking, the murder, and the broken communication of silence into his very heart, so that together they breathed again into us, dumb and bestial as we are, to give us his Spirit.

"How did this ability evolve? Why is it uniquely human?"
"When you start to think about it, it seems miraculous!"

Sometimes it really seems like we're sitting in a room, chatting, and asking aloud, "Why is this room so cramped? How did it become so dark and smelly in here?" "It seems almost miraculous!" But above all, let no-one whisper that there may be an elephant in the middle of the room. That's not scientific; we don't believe in elephants.

As C S Lewis said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because
I see it, but because by it I see everything else." But for 'Christianity', replace it with Christ himself, the Word, and the one the universe is bursting to reflect and praise.
"From the mouth of babies and infants you have ordained praise, to silence the enemy."


Betsy Peters said...

C.S. Lewis also brilliantly describes the same God who gave language taking away that ability to communicate. In "That Hideous Strength," a second "Babel" scene occurs at the N.I.C.E. This time it is not because man's building defies God but his academic prowess that defies God by making man after his own image with the strength of his own hand. But, without the ability to converse, man's plans become utterly futile. Oh, and speaking of the elephant in the room, then the zoo animals burst in, quite literally for Lewis. Like Nebuchadnezzar, those of the N.I.C.E. become like the beasts. Fabulous

étrangère said...

Thanks Betsy - I love Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy. He did much brilliant connecting of theology, linguistics and literary theory. If you enjoy that, you'd like Vern Poythress too - this excellent interview for example.