The Problem with Wonder

February 12, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’m preparing a sermon right now that has me thinking about the role of Wonder in expressing our faith.  A couple of weeks ago I posted something comparing different ways of knowing.  I guess for you academics out there, the word would be epistemology, which if I understand it right, is geek speak for ‘how we know what we know’.
In that post, I made a rough distinction between scientific knowledge; (that which can be proven, logically deduced, and repeated; you could see this as a quest for answers) and what I called ‘mysterious’ knowledge (that which cannot be proven, logically deduced or repeated; you could see this as a quest that often leads to more questions).
I think all of us move between these two realms nearly every day, yet we are drawn to experience and view the world primarily through one paradigm or the other.
I happen to find science pretty interesting (thanks again Rod and Nichelle, for the subscription to Popular Science for Christmas!), but as a pastor I’m naturally drawn more to the mystery of our lives and the mystery that our faith illuminates.
See, I’m a fairly simple-minded guy.  It doesn’t take a lot to amuse me.  When it snows and I’m lucky enough to be sitting inside with nothing else to do, I could sit and watch the snow as long as my wife would let me.  It’s mesmerizing.
The same is true with fire.  Or music.  Or artwork.  Or reading.
These experiences induce a kind of wonder into my soul (the soul that can’t be scientifically proven to exist).
That sense of wonder is what brings me back to church week after week.  It’s what enables me to write sermon after sermon; to wonder at the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Jesus, the healing received by so many, the resurrection of Christ, the notion of the Trinity, the idea of eternal life (none of which can be scientifically proven).
I’m lucky enough to have a job where it’s part of what I do; to simply wonder at the endless Mystery that captivates our minds and bends them towards our notion of an otherwise unknowable, unprovable, unrepeatable God.
But the wonder that is so central to our faith is reduced when approached with a simply scientific mindset.  Wonder to the scientific mind is a means to an end; I wonder why these cells multiply so fast…let’s get to the bottom of it.
Wonder to our faith, however, is more of a lifestyle.
So I think there’s a devotional thought in here somewhere.  Some kind of sermon nugget that I just might pull out one of these days.
Then again, maybe not.

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