Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Speed of Light

Even though it's been several days since Matrix now, I have still got quite a lot of the things Tony Campolo said buzzing around my head. The fascinating thing has been the different stories people have told from the conference in various blogs in the blogosphere (Alice, Ian, Kathryn, Lev, Pete and Roy)

We have all heard what Tony Campolo said in different ways. Various aspects struck each of us in particular and those have been the things we've focussed on. It reminded me of the session I went to on Theology of/with young people in which Bob Mayo was proposing a move away from the relational model of Youth ministry to a kind of relational model 2.0 which he calls a narrative model. This moves the focus of working with young people away from stressing the importance of building a relationship with the young person to sharing stories with young people. Hearing their stories and enabling them to retell their story with God in it and inviting them to become part of God’s story.

Bob used as an example the four different gospels and how their authors each viewed the world through Christ’s eyes and yet also through their own. In the same way, we youth workers seem to have seen the matrix conference through our own eyes and through Christ’s
So, through my eyes…

The thing that has stuck with me over the last few days has been Tony Campolo’s assertion that we need to be thinking in terms of a more modern theology. He based his theology on the Einsteinian theory of relativity, proposing that God works at the speed of light. This resonated a great deal with me and helped me answer a few questions about God’s omniscience and prayer.

If God works at the speed of light then to Go everything is happening at once. “I am the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” Through Christ God experiences the way that WE see the world but this was not in the past, this was not something by which God was CHANGED, this was part of God, yesterday today and tomorrow. There is no question of God knowing something before it happened or predestining people for anything. God knows. There is no time scale of before and after.

This really reminded me of psalm 139:

“Before a word is on my tongue, Lord
You have known its meaning through and through
You are with me beyond my understanding
God of my present my past and future too.”

This makes sense of prayer to me. Through prayer we get a glimpse of the world at the speed of light and through the eyes of Christ. Through prayer we connect with this God who is past, present and future.

Campolo spoke about prayer and our tendency to “pray stupid” treating God like “some transcendental Santa Claus” but he had some reassurance for us, too. He said:“Don’t be afraid to pray stupid!” because that is the role of the Holy Spirit, our advocate. The Holy Spirit hears our stupid prayer and turns it into something beautiful and eloquent when God hears it.


Pete Lev said...

I think Bob Mayo's narrative stuff could be really helpful in youthwork "practice". Just trying to get my head round it too!

pete.maidment said...

dude... far too deep! actually this is really handy, i think you get reminded of more stuff by listeneing to other people's perceptions and remebrances (sp?), keep it up chaps!

Roy said...

mayo's stuff is similar to where Roy Crowne at BYFC is coming from. Think that is why yfc developed the "connecting" course that they are currently pushing in a big way.

On a different note, am amazed by all the different perspectives and memories we have on the same talks. Great stuff, isn't it? Thanks for sharing your stuff - good memory jogger

Kathryn said...

Err, I've been trying to explain this God and the speed of light thing to my husbnand (research phsicist, specialist subject photonic ie light!) Now it could just that I'm inept at science, but he is adamant that Campolos assertion is bad physics... and therefore also bad theology too. Discuss!

Anonymous said...

Being a physics graduate myself, I had meant to look into the science side of it all when I got back from the conference. I still haven't, but you've given me the motivation to seek out my physics books!

Pete Lev said...

Fascinated by Kathryn's comments! Because for me starting with science is the wrong place to build you theology anyway! But if the light stuff is wrong -then it raises lots of questions. Basically Campolo's promoting a king of "openess" theology, articulated best by Clark Pinnock.

andy said...

Yes, it is bad, bad, bad physics.

Full disclosure: former Christian, current atheist.

If God works at the speed of light, then:

(a) God is bound by a law of the universe, which doesn't seem very God-like.

(b) God is completely unchanging; not in the sense of his "essence," but in the sense that you've just turned him into a photon

(c) God can't make things happen anywhere at any time, because he's limited to the speed of light; so much for being all-powerful.

(d) In response to (c), if God CAN do anything anywhere, then there's absolutely no sense in saying he works at the speed of light - obviously he works at infinite speed.

Sorry, but this sounds like a case of an evangelical reading something scientific, having absolutely no grasp of what he read, and then trying to "map" it to theology. It's as unsound and invalid an approach as when certain progressives tries to "map" Darwinism to social policy.

Sean said...

"There is no question of God knowing something before it happened or predestining people for anything. God knows."

So much for that free-will thingy. God has actually placed people on erth just so he can see them burn in hell some day. Sounds masochistic to me, and not all that GOOD.

Michael said...

Campolo is a big believer in himself thats for sure. Personally, I try to compare what one teaches to the Word. Yeshua(Jesus) never had to refer to science to prove the power of God the Father. And while we live in a highly technical society with many great advances in science - it has not solved the answers of how or why we are on this planet in a huge universe devoid of life as we know it. This truth most notably upsetting to the vehement declartions by some evolutionist. That being said, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth is not limited by the physical realm that we can measure today through known scientific methods. We 'see thru the glass darkly' and 'his thoughts are higher than our thoughts'. While its fun to postulate scientific questions in relation to the Almighty, one must be extremely careful what is put forth as science related to our Creator or the Bible. If not careful, it causes the unbeliever, especially those in the scientific profession and any skeptic for that matter to scoff and mock any teachings of the Bible as dare I say it, "uneducated". This is the result of Campolo's, psuedo-science statement, 'God moving at the speed of light'. It causes one to pause and think and makes me personally question the rest of his teachings in general. Does he recklessly study and promote any other such untruths of the Bible? The speed of light is a constant that we know of in this universe, but in no way should we limit God to such man-made measurements. For that matter(pun intended), Quantum physics has opened a bigger 'door' if you will, for discussion as regards to the omnicient power that is available to our Father. I agree with Andy's statements. He's correct. Any statement linking God's power to a limit of light speed makes God no longer infinite in power. The unfortunate by-product of such scientifically uninformed statements by Campolo leads unbelievers that hear such misguided statements in the opposite direction of Christ. It unfortunately gives ready ammunition to active skeptics to shoot down any known facts of Christ or the Bible and takes away from the true message that Yeshua asked his disciples to preach. There are good people of faith, believers who are professionals in all fields of science today from physics, astronomy, and genetics which can talk on such subjects and have indeed written books on just these topics with excellent skill. Its good to see Andy here; though a fully disclosed atheist. Andy, I hope and pray whatever led you away finds you back another day. Every sheep, every lamb matters to the Lord. I'd be very curious to know why you do not believe. Yet I count it good in God's grace that you posted here on such a subject.
God is indeed unchanging for he knows all, is all and has known so much more knowledge than we can possibly imagine at this time. I'm amazed at how science has in the last 5700 years(according to Jewish calendars) come so far; with invitro-fertilization, cloning of Dolly the "Lamb", artificial hearts no less and yet we limit our Creator. I can only imagine what we are 'not' seeing. I can only imagine and indeed drop-jawed at times think what God must be like who created such massive star systems, supernova's and delicate DNA strands of the human cell. Mankind thinks it knows so much, but we have barely scratched the surface of creation, let alone come close to seeing the face of God in science. And if left alone, in time I'm sure we would all think ourselves little God's given ample efforts of our present culture to clone little ones in the future... well, this has made for good conversation albeit a wee overdone on my part ;-). God Bless