When a sound, rational explanation misses the point

[Let me preface the main post with an acknowledgement of the obvious: I haven’t been around these parts for quite a while, and for a number of reasons. First of all, I have described before my tendency to pursue one train of thought for long periods of time. Lately, it’s been political theory, and although I was bringing a bit to this blog for a while, it began to seem that the blog was losing integrity. I decided to move all my political rants to Twitter and, to a limited extent, Facebook. Another major reason is that I have stated my position on most subjects that interest me, and I haven’t found the motivation to rehash those topics in a way that’s not being done more interestingly elsewhere. If I can’t bring something new to the table, I’d just as soon not bother.]

Okay, so speaking of something (relatively) new to the table, I’d like to offer up this wonderful, tragically unsung episode of Star Trek: Voyager that has haunted me since I first saw it on its first run (back in the nineties). It approaches the science vs. faith debate in a way I’ve nowhere else seen it done so well. I just found this episode on YouTube, but embedding is disabled, so I thought I’d break my silence to present you a link to the playlist of five clips that make up the episodeĀ (Unfortunately, the link was taken down. I’m sure you can Netflix it, though. The episode is called “Sacred Ground”.) Don’t miss it and rob yourself of the experience.

I think “Sacred Ground” is indicative of how useful story is for conveying the ineffable. Without a storyline like this one, I wouldn’t even know how to begin to explain the insight revealed in this episode (incidentally the directorial debut of cast member Robert Duncan McNeill, who played Lt. Tom Paris and who is currently a producer/director for Chuck). Sure, it’s not a novel concept, but there’s no getting around the effectiveness of this plotline and the entertaining philosophical/theological dialogue between Janeway and the monks. It gets at the heart of why so many scientists can be so sure of scientific, non-miraculous explanations of the universe and yet remain devout in their belief that God is responsible. This episode illustrates perfectly why it is that – despite the fact that I have never observed a miracle and find the ones reported to me to have limited credibility, and regardless of the fact that I am convinced there are naturalistic explanations for the origin of the universe, of the beginning of life, and of the diversity of life – nevertheless, the insistence of atheists upon materialism still rings so hollow to my ears. Just because we’ve done a great job explaining the how‘s of the natural universe (and not even all of them) doesn’t even imply that we’ve done away with any possible why‘s.

Let me know what you think!

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