instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, September 07, 2014

There's no such thing as a Copernican evolution

At this morning's RCIA class meeting, we watched the first video of ChristLife's "Discovering Christ" series. In the video, the presenter compares the difference between living for yourself rather than for God to the difference between the Ptolemaic Model and the Copernican Model. The question is, who is at the center of your universe?

Our RCIA leader pulled on that thread, pointing out how complicated an earth-centered model gets when you use it to account for all the observable motions of the stars and planets.

And yet, that's what everyone did.
It occurred to me that there is no way for a geocentric model to evolve into a heliocentric model. You don't keep adding epicycles until one day, presto, that's the Sun in the middle of your chart. You keep adding epicycles until one day, presto, you toss your Spirograph aside and say, "There must be a better way!"

A similar thing happens when people living according to a self-centered model examines their lives. It just doesn't really work, and you can't get it to work by adding incremental refinements and corrections to your self-centeredness. You have to toss aside yourself and say, "There must be a better way!"

Now, truth cannot contradict truth, so I don't mean to contradict the empirical fact that plenty of people living a self-centered life are altogether content with the way it works. Even people who know it's no way to go through life find it tempting.

Of course, the mere fact that people are content doesn't mean their contentment is well-founded. If your ideas about how to live are well suited to achieving your idea of what life is for, then you'll likely be content if you're following your ideas about how to live. And yet, if your idea of what life is for is wrong (or more likely incomplete), then your ideas about how to live are going to be wrong also.

What I think this means to Christian evangelists -- which is to say, to Christians -- is that we'll find people in two very different states. Some people will be, in one way or another, dissatisfied with what they've tried to put in the center of their lives; these people are waiting to be introduced to Jesus. Others, though, are satisfied, and they need to be introduced to the idea of Jesus, so to speak, to the idea of the true happiness, which we are not only capable of but for which we were created by a God willing to die in order for us to achieve it.

And the people we might meet in these two states may well be Christians themselves.