5.02.2008

The Fear of God

I've probably been to the zoo or aquarium 30+ times in the past two years, since we got kids and got memberships.  Never once did I fear for my life: otherwise intimidating animals were safely tucked away behind cages or inside tanks.  We have so domesticated creatures that we forget how fearsome they can be in the wild; last year's tiger escape and last month's shark attack offer a reminder.

So have we, through our human knowledge, tamed weather and disease and the cosmos, in a sense.  And in doing so, we have lost a sense of fear.  For some, this is progress; and on one level, it is progress for us to no longer worry about things that generations past had to worry about.

And yet I wonder if we would do better to reclaim some sense of reverence and awe.  King Solomon once wrote, "The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge."  Instead, we have decided that knowledge is the way we no longer need fear anything, even God, and perhaps we don't even need God anymore at all. 

But God is more fearsome than very fearsome things, like tigers and sharks and tsunamis and pestilence and asteroids.  I call this the "Bigger Bully Theorem" - if the bully I'm afraid of is afraid of a bigger bully, that bigger bully must be really fearsome.  A consequence of the Bigger Bully Theorem is that if we lose touch with how fearsome animals, the weather, disease, and the cosmos are, we lose touch with how fearsome God is.  And if that happens to us, no matter how much knowledge we think we've accumulated, individually and as humanity, we haven't even gotten to the beginning of knowledge.
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