Ontologies – What Story Shall We Tell?

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I think that many Christians understand that Christianity is not true. Most of them understand that Noah’s Ark caves under the slightest of pressures, that donkeys don’t talk, and that people do not survive being swallowed by “great fish”.

I’ve actually had my friend Camden drop this bomb on me before: “Regardless of the veracity of the claims, I have found them in my life to be quite transformative.” So from my own study and the conversations I have with Christians when they aren’t downright afraid of dialogue[1], I’ve come to the conclusion that Christianity, no matter how much it touts its love of truth, is about much more than that.

I think that many Christians understand that Christianity is not true.

So if we’re not talking about truth anymore, (and I kind of got that hint from conversations like the one above, which so quickly shift from veracity to benefit), then we’re talking about ontologies. Ontology = The branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being The stories that we tell ourselves about life.

This line of thought was produced by a conversation I had with this same friend recently. We were talking about Christianity, atheism, and evolution, and he said this:

For me it comes down to ontology. Is the nature of human existence one of violence or one of peace? Evolution (which I believe to be factual) is underpinned by an ontology of violence. It’s in this sense that I believe creation to be, if not factual, true. It offers humanity an alternate ontology based in peace.

It actually took a while for me to unpack this one. It sounds really good on the surface, and I couldn’t figure out for a while why it seemed to ring hollow. I mean, how much better of a story could you tell people than that they were special, that the Creator of the cosmos cares for them, and that they are made in the very image of something whose nature is quintessentially and fundamentally good? I mean, I was even convinced by listening to Kyle Harper talk about how anti-slavery sentiments arose from the concept of Imago Dei, the image of God.

Then the answer hit me out of nowhere one day, the reason that the claim rang hollow: Because that is not all that the church teaches. Original sin is taught by the church. I was taught in church that I was born with a “propensity” to sin. I was taught that I was worthless, that my “righteous acts” were “like filthy rags” (Isa 64:6). I was told that I deserved to die for my sin (Rom 6:23), but I was fortunate that Jesus took my place. I was told we all owed our lives to Jesus, because he gave his life for us, that he took the punishment that we all deserved, and that I was the one who, through my daily acts of sin, drove the very nails into His precious hands and feet.

Is that the story we want to share? Is this what we want to tell people about who they are? Do we want to teach people that the state of the world is due to our choosing for it to be this way?

I…drove the very nails into His precious hands and feet.

Speaking only of human welfare, why not try an ontology where man is simply in coexistence with all his other fellow animals, and has a duty, not to subdue nature (Gen 1:28), but to flourish alongside it? How about an ontology where people do good because it is good, and abhor evil because it is so, regardless of whatever God’s got to say about it? Where people care for the broken, the downtrodden, the depressed, because our human family is expanding. Why not try telling each human that comes hereafter that they are good, upright, moral, that they already know how to be this way?

I’ve outgrown your god, and from what you tell me, you have, too. It’s time to put away childish things (1 Cor 13:11). It’s time to find a better story.

Feel free to comment, like, follow, and share below! And as always, BE MY PATRONS!

[1] Sidenote: This would make more sense to you if, like me, you had the Andrews Study Bible, which includes a footnote on page 9 that says that Eve’s first mistake was to “enter into a dialogue with the ‘cunning serpent’.” Sigh, and people say that Christianity is not antithetical to reason. One more thing, and I’ll get off my soapbox. If you have beliefs that you profess to believe so deeply, but you are unable to enter into a dialogue with me about them no matter how respectfully we both do it, you do, and will always appear to me, like a tiny dog that barks viciously while backing away. You’ve got no teeth, kiddie.

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