The Shellfish Problem

This is an excellent post by Doug Wilson – enjoy!

Socrates famously said that he was the wisest man among the Greeks because he knew of his ignorance. Let us riff off this Socratic insight if we may, if riff is a term recognized by the philosophers.

We are all smaller than tiny. We all have a tiny role to play, and the fact that we are tiny makes our duties tiny — without making them unimportant. How God did that, I don’t know, but He did.

The gift of God enables us to take our graces and duties seriously without taking ourselves seriously. Those suffering along without this gift either neglect their graces and duties, or pursue their duties raw precisely because they take themselves very seriously indeed. Here is the Socratic riff. They are unimportant because they do not understand themselves to be unimportant. Those who understand how small we are, and how unimportant we all are — ah, those are the important ones. Keep an eye on them.

This last Friday I had the privilege of debating David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. The debate was sponsored by the fine folks in the Federalist Society at Liberty University Law School. We were debating whether Christianity or humanism provided the better path for culture, law, politics, and so forth. I was advocating, natch, mere Christendom.

Mr. Niose, who struck me as a very nice man, said in the course of the debate that the Bible was a tired and ancient book, with a bunch of irrelevant laws, citing as one example the Old Testament prohibition of eating shellfish. In my reply, I pointed to the stark alternative this presented — a faith in which the adherents were at one time prohibited from eating shellfish, and on the other hand a faith in which the adherents used to be shellfish.

Now this got a laugh, and his response illustrated the point I was making above. My passing joke elicited from him his most urgent and pressing point, to wit, the intellectual sanctity of the theory of evolution. I will pass by that theory here, noting only in that passing my agreement with Malcolm Muggeridge that, in retrospect, evolution will be known as one of the great jokes of history.

My point here has to do with the issue of self-importance. The secular state is an over-inflated balloon, and when the right moment comes, the tiniest joke, as told by Martin Luther, with the teeniest little sharp point, should do the trick.

On paper, you would think that an evolutionist would understand that the entire human race is just as meaningless as the froth in a storm on one of Jupiter molten seas. Both phenomena put on a show for non-existent spectators, and then the lights go out. You would think that someone who thought that would have a deep sense of how trivial everything is, up to and including the prospect of every last Supreme Court justice being one day a graduate of Liberty University Law School. But no . . .

Now I don’t mean to indicate that the Christian faith is devoid of self-important fussers. Alack and alas! But at least our fussers have absolutely no excuse. They have memorized the Heidelberg Catechism in the original Greek, and so they should know.

Such perspective is the grace of God, and if there is no God, good bye to any such perspective. But because the triune God is infinite, and the Second Person of that Trinity became one of us, insignificance and cosmic importance now indwell one another, world without end. Amen.

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