In my book That’s a Great Question, I borrowed an analogy from author Philip Yancey that helps put the pins back into some of the grenades skeptics lob at Christianity. Here’s how I described Yancey’s illustration:
Scientists have concluded that whales are among the most intelligent of all nonhuman creatures, and researchers know that they use a variety of clicks and squeals to communicate with each other.
Yancey ponders what might happen if someday we eventually “cracked” the whale language code and learned to communicate with them. That would be a remarkable achievement. But, asks Yancey, what would we “talk” about with them? We would have to restrict our communication to things within their sphere, such as,
· Water temperature,
· Light and darkness of the water,
· Ocean currents, and
· The location of food.
How could I ever explain things like
· The World Series
· The Internet
· Space travel, and
· Why my teenage son’s hair keeps changing colors? (Victor Books, 2007, pp. 123-124).
Skeptics who reject the faith because Christians can’t fully explain all their questions are like the whale who rejects the existence of the World Series because it can’t comprehend it. The point is that, even as the intellectual and experiential gap between whales and humans is huge, the intellectual and spiritual gap between people and God is almost infinite.
Should we be surprised that we don’t understand everything about God or his ways? If we did, God would be little more than an idealized human. Many people strip him of his transcendence and omnipotence, requiring him to operate within the sphere of human reasoning. If they can’t understand everything, they refuse to believe.
Contrast this puny version of God with the majestic, limitless self-portrait he paints of himself at the end of the Book of Job.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions?
Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
Who shut up the seas behind doors
When it burst forth from the womb,
When I set the limits for it
And set its doors and bars in place,
When I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
Here is where your proud waves halt’?
Have you ever given orders to the morning,
Or shown the dawn its place?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me if you know all this.” (Selected verses from Job 38:4-18)
I am the last person to suggest that asking tough questions is off limits, but in reality, there are many aspects of our world we don’t completely understand and many, many more things about God that exceed our reach.
I’m comfortable working as hard as possible to try to understand what I can about God but being willing to take him at his word for the things beyond human capacity to fully comprehend.