He's one of those brilliant types. He works and takes college courses like "Philosophy of Law and Ethics" for fun. He's also one of those infuriating people who is good at every game he plays, whether a traditional board game or on a computer. I'm pretty sure he also never feels the need to sleep. He rejected religion a long time ago. I think a big part of this is that no one could answer his difficult questions.
He has a lot of questions now.
Sitting at my sturdy dining room table, his mind connecting thoughts I haven't even considered yet, he's easily two steps ahead of me. We're discussing a hot political issue making waves through the media right now. I'm doing my best to keep the conversation going in a straight line rather than spinning off into ever murkier waters. The water is muddy enough as it is.
There's finally a lull.
"Can you produce an argument for your position without God?" he asks.
I'm confused. "I just did. I didn't mention God or the Bible in any of what I said."
It's his turn to be confused. He sits there replaying the conversation. He doesn't acknowledge my point. "But when we get done talking like this, it's like we agree with each other."
I laugh. "We do. When we're talking about the same thing, we agree. The problem is that we come at stuff with two different presuppositions. These assumptions about reality make it so we ultimately disagree."
Before last night, I don't think this young man had discussed this topic with a Christian. He constantly peppered me with questions soaked in the bias of today's misaligned portrayal of Christian beliefs. Again and again I found myself reminding him, "I never suggested that. What I did say was...."
I relish the opportunity to address questions. But it makes me sad to see so many super intelligent people -- mostly guys in my experience -- who have walked away from the "hogwash" of religion because no one bothered to discuss difficult issues with them. Hard questions are not comfortable. There aren't always great answers. There are few rock solid responses. But since what we believe is true, we can be comfortable with the uncertainty of our understanding.
Sonlight prepared me for this beautifully.
First, Sonlight showed me that life-long learning is a good thing. If I'm still learning, it's okay not to know everything. It's good to seek out new understanding. We should welcome opportunities to discover new things about the world. Questions provide an excellent way to challenge our current assumptions and give us a chance to see if there is more to learn.
Second, Sonlight demonstrated the benefits of discussion. As we read books and talked about them, we unearthed huge and important ideas. Suddenly, a silly story about speeding becomes an opportunity to talk about authority and responsibility. Taking the time to talk things through is a worthy pursuit.
Third, Sonlight urged me to learn about why we believe what we believe. This necessitates that we also consider why others do not believe what we believe. Once we have begun to truly understand the issue at hand, discussion becomes possible and even interesting!
In this coming year, may we all become more comfortable with questions.
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian