Children, teachers, parishioners, educationalists, clergy and all people must be aware of thinking we know everything without critical thought. And also humble enough to know we also need faith in and through Jesus Christ to understand a little of God’s love for us all.
I know we all have to beware of statistics but I heard on Radio 4 (so it must be true!!) the average age for having a mobile phone is 7 1/2 years old. I find this troublesome for a number of reasons but the one I wish to think about in this summer letter is do our children have the tools for critical thinking? We’ve all seen certain dangerous thoughts on the news or the internet. Examples are the comments President Trump comes out with on climate change or the upsurge of religious hate and bigotry (everything from ISIS to the Christian right wingers or various religions thoughts on honour killings, the list goes on.) By now you may be thinking, a secularist is writing this piece but I think that my faith in religion and science is rooted in the phrase of Jesus, “I have come that you might have life and have it in all its fullness.” Everyone needs to have a filter when looking at the news or the internet. What is the back story; what is the politics behind the stories; or where science is concerned, who sponsors the data…etc. As parents we need to balance the protection of our children with offering a safe place for critical thinking. Religion is very frustrating for many people. It is not simply because much of Christianity is rooted in the mystery of ‘Why would God wish to die for humanity on a Cross’, in our world today we cannot understand, ‘why would the most powerful become powerless?’ The simple yet profound answer is this something is much more important than power; love. Love is at the heart of God and the reason why God came to earth. God so loves humanity. Loves each one of us. I would suggest that if any religion is not rooted in God’s love, and the wish of God that we flourish and serve each other then it is somewhat suspect. The other day the children in juniors challenged me about ideas like ‘eternity’, ‘who created God’, ‘why do people suffer’ etc. It’s so hard to say to our children that, although we cannot answer fully these questions in all certainty, our human life is a journey in searching for the truth and as Jesus said the ‘truth will set us free’. Missionaries, scientists and other people in the fields of the arts and literature have created amazing things and helped humanity jump in its understanding of the universe and the earth. These questions are not fully answered but the journey to understand enriches our humanity and our souls. May we all give our children or grandchildren the space and the time to ask the difficult questions of life. Then maybe we adults will learn something else, something new. Whatever age we are, are we not always open to learning things? As Albert Einstein said:
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” (Einstein) Finally, people often think that Darwin was the great scientist who once and for all disproved religion. Sadly so often people who are looking to disprove religion and faith rewrite certain scientists’ views, Pascal, Einstein and Darwin being a few. Even the scientist who came up with the big bang theory was actually a Christian. Whatever our beliefs we need to be humble about knowledge, faith and the wonders of the known universe. I leave the final word with Darwin: “The question of whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the Universe has been answered in the affirmative by some of the highest intellects that have ever existed.”
With Kind Regards and every prayer.
Rev’d Stephen Monk
(Rector Darley Dale, South Darley & Winster.)