Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Liz's Question - or Why I Don't Do Theology

Over at the CrossLeft site,a new participant, Bud Stark, has written several interesting posts on issues of theology, designed universe, science, and first things. God vs Stephen Hawking's Unbound Theory, Richard Dawkins, Witness to Eden, and Weinberg vs a designed universe.

A fundamental point is that there's no good scientific explanation for why anything exists. But the problem extends farther than that.

My daughter expressed the issue in its most unsophisticated and unanswerable terms when she was 6 or 7. She was riding in the back seat with one of her brothers and with another in a child's car seat in the front (this was before child seats were mandated to go in the back seat). My wife, running late on errands, was making a left turn at rush hour at a particularly busy intersection (N. Mills, along the railroad tracks, and Fortification, for anyone who's familiar with Jackson MS). As she finally started to pull out into the intersection, Liz piped up, without any preliminaries, with "what I want to know is who made God?" Janet kept her eyes on the road and the oncoming traffic.

Liz's question pretty much says it for me when it comes to trying to deal with the concepts of infinite time and space. So I don't do theology. Instead, there's action. For example, in anthropology, there's a term for one variety of Applied Anthropology. It's called Action Anthropology and implies activism by anthropologists in using anthropological knowledge to try to solve societal problems. And that kind of activism also implies commitment to the people and community that the anthropologist is working with. So that's where I wound up when I was doing anthropology.

Similarly, I like the idea of Action Christianity -- following the Jesus Way without theological speculation. It has much in common with Liberation Theology.