Thursday, August 11, 2011

An Open Letter to Chris Jones

Recently an article was written on the sports/pop culture blog Grantland talking about Barry Zito, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. In this particular post, Arts vs. Science: The Barry Zito Debate, writers Chris Jones and Jonah Keri debate over a previous article written by Jones on how Barry Zito was destroyed by lofty expections. Rather than give you the entire set of e-mail exchanges between the two I will just give you section that caught my eye and than a quick response.

Chris Jones writes:

"You're asking me to defend art with science, and I can’t. It’s why science always wins. Art can’t overcome the burden of proof, and I concede that point, absolutely, which is why I’d never claim that statistics are stupid. I understand their importance and their value. But that doesn’t mean I have to love them.

This will sound strange, but stick with me. I’m an atheist, and have been for as long as I can remember. Back in high school, I was asked to debate a minister, in front of my biology class, about evolution. I presented all of my carefully researched and well-documented science, from the voyages of Beagle on down, and made every possible rational argument against the existence of God and every other deity (including the fairly obvious argument that if there is a Higher Power, there can be only one). And the minister’s only Argument Against was that he believed otherwise. He had no real proof, of course. He could not rebut my case with any sort of fact-based evidence. If our debate had happened in front of a purely rational audience of 100 people, I would have won 100 minds.

But people think with their hearts, too.

And after that debate, if I’m being honest, I envied the minister and his allies. I envied his belief. I still do. It’s really hard to be an atheist. It’s hard to believe that life is just a series of accidents, that at the end of it is only darkness. It’s hard to have things go wrong and have only yourself to blame.

So I’ve found my small gods in other things. I see the constellations in one of Norman Mailer’s perfectly written paragraphs. I listen to “
Montana” by Youth Lagoon and I believe in something like the divine. I am a man of deep feeling, and when I see people do beautiful things, I feel it in my chest. Barry Zito’s curveball was one of those beautiful things. When I first saw it and wrote about it, I thought for a long time how I might describe it. I ended up writing that “It dropped like a broken heart,” because that’s what I felt when I saw it."

Mr. Jones,

As a Christian this section of your e-mail response makes complete sense. I really appreciate your honesty about envying something about the minister's beliefs. I understand in your debate you presented careful research and well-documented science to disprove God to seemingly win the debate; but what you write in your following paragraphs really prove against your rational argument against the existence of God. You debated completely on science while the minister's "believing otherwise" was probably based on the truth that God created everything including you, me and the minister. Since God created everything and created humans in his own image, he therefore owns everything including you, me and the minister. Since he created us, he knows everything about us, and we can conclude he would know what would satisfy us. But rather than seeking our Creator for our joy and satisfaction we have rejected and rebelled against our Creator to seek other things (or gods) to try and satisfy our soul. God's says in his Word: "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things" (Romans 1:31-23).

The amazing part is you admit to this very thing in your article. Rather than submitting to the truth about God you have sadly rejected him while trying to fill the void with his very creation. Evolution makes no sense of this reality but the Bible makes it crystal clear. The void comes from rejecting Jesus, the eternal, all-satisfying treasure. In turn you have created multiple god's to temporarily fill the void. The saddest part is that the void will never be completely filled. You will find yourself seeking new god's when the others wear out. But the Bible offers an eternal hope because it the Word of the eternal God. "In [God's] presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). You were created for a purpose Mr. Jones and that purpose is to bring glory to your Creator.

Can I show you something beautiful and breath-taking? I know you love things that are beautiful and beyond description so let me point you to the greatest news in all of history. Though you have rejected and turned your back on your Creator (As was my life for so many years) he has graciously provided the way to restore the broken relationship. Nothing you will ever do can earn favor with God but, in love, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for all who would simply trust in him. Sin is the rejecting of God as God and what has separated you from God. Sin is what separated me from God. As humans we don't naturally love him "but God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Placing your trust in Jesus Christ is the way to have your void filled forever. He is the one who came to remove the wrath of the Father by dying in your place so your sins could be pardoned forever. This is amazing news. It all makes sense when we can go back to how and why we were created.

Life is not just a serious of accidents that will end in darkness. God is sovereign over all events and people. He is on his throne and his plan is absolutely perfect. And when things go wrong we do have only ourselves to blame because sin is what has caused all the corruption and destruction in this world. God is not to blame for sin, we are. "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire" (James 1:13-14). The Bible makes sense of all your questions. God created us for the purpose of basking in him and bringing glory to him as our Creator. We have sinned and rebelled against God (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23) therefore earning our wage of death (Romans 6:23). Yet Jesus comes and lives the life we could not live and dies the death we deserve in order to bring reconciliation between us and God (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13-14). The Bible says about Jesus, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

I'm not pleading with you to give Jesus a trial run for 30 days to see if he works or not. I'm not asking you to try to do a bunch of good things in order to find God. I'm pleading with you to "be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). I'm pleading with you to forsake your rejection of your Creator and place your trust in his plan of salvation. I'm pleading with you to trust Christ!

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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