The old, old story

I’m currently reading Michael Denton’s new book, The Miracle of Man, which explores some of the astonishing fine tuning of the Universe not only for life, but for human life. I must do a blog on it soon, but my first reaction was a sense of resentment at how the insane deception now surrounding us on every side has drawn me from a decade of study of such wonders of nature (and hence of God) to filling these pages with stuff categorised as “politics and sociology”.

If you’re new here, incidentally, you can still find the old explorations by using the “categories” filter, or just by clicking on any “random posts” that interest you under that heading on the right. But my point is that one would suppose the proper study of mankind to be the nature of mankind himself, the world he occupies and (as one comes to think that through) the nature of the God who made both.

But just as the Second World War cut across all peacetime occupations and became, I guess, almost the sole topic of conversation for our parents or grandparents, the drawing aside of the curtain on the evil forces undermining our society, for most people through the COVID madness, has forced thinkers to think about that. Let me draw your attention to one small example of that, in the new film about the Daily Telegraph’s sacked cartoonist, Bob Moran, including much of his brilliant imagery, here.

In fact, not to have one’s intellectual attention drawn into examining this villainy now seems to be like the proverbial ostrich hiding its head in the sand. It seems perverse to be focusing on the problems of consciousness or phylogeny when, in Canada (for example) the commonest cause of death has become “death by unknown cause” since the mRNA vaccines were rolled out. I’d far rather have that feeling of wonder about the world than the mixed anger and dread that has become too familiar to us all (and will do so even more once we can no longer afford food or energy, or when they start sending young British soldiers to Ukraine to die).

But in the eternal scheme of things, maybe I’m being blinkered to think that the collapse of civilisation is keeping us from what civilisation should be thinking about. I remember, many years ago, talking with my Christian medical partner, whose life was being turned upside down by major construction failures of his new-build house, with endless hassles over getting them remedied under the inadequate NHBC guarantee, and so on. “There’s so much God wants to teach me here in the surgery and in my church work, and all this is getting in the way,” he complained with some justification.

Without really thinking I replied, “Maybe what God mainly wants to teach you at the moment is how to deal with construction hassles.” He replied that he didn’t want to hear that. But it was true.

If we accept the biblical account, as summarised in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” And it’s easy to apply that to the study of science, of philosophy, of theology, or of any other of our “peacetime activities” from making beautiful music to growing food or children.

But the Bible turns, even by its second chapter, (as I describe in detail in my second book, The Generations of Heaven and Earth) from a celbration of the creative works of God to the problem of evil. And it is the latter problem, and its painful solutions culminating in the Crucifixion of the Son of God, that occupies most of the rest of Scripture’s pages. There’s surprisingly little pure exploration of God, man or the world in its pages. What there is of that is closely intertwined with the War with Evil, like a story of young love set against a background of conscription, air-raids and separation.

As I explain in GHE, it is the conflict with evil that makes salvation history a story. Genesis 1 is an astonishingly deep, complex and yet concise account of creation equally instructive, if properly understood, for an uneducated tribesman or a quantum physicist. But it is not a story, because there are no villains, and God the Uncreated is appropriately unopposed in making the universe as it is. But it is only an introduction, or a setting. As a narrative it is flat, like the example given by N. T. Wright: “One day Little Red Riding Hood decided to take some food to her granny, so she did, and they were all happy.”

For reasons of his own, God chose to make the story of mankind a drama and not merely an intellectual, or even spiritual, exercise. I won’t here explore the various speculations about why the story of the world created by a perfect God should include evil both human and supernatural. But the fact is that it does, and it is in the event the proper business of humankind to be involved in that struggle, and not attempting to sit aloof from it in contemplation of the Absolute, or whatever.

To put it another way, you and I are part of a history – which means a story. And there are no proper stories without villains, and the suffering involved in overcoming them. Yet that does not mean that the Westminster Catechism was wrong about the chief end of man. The only reason there are villains to struggle against in stories is because there is, indeed, a “Good” which the villains are seeking to destroy. There can be no damned lies without the ultimate existence of Truth.

If the world were meaningless, then one might as well capitulate to evil as oppose it. Many in our time seem to have come perilously close to that position, not least because the destruction of meaning has, for a long time, been part of the villains’ propaganda. You may see your job in science as meaningless, but at least it puts food on the table, so keeping hold of it is a good enough reason to capitulate to the meaningless pseudoscience of the ruling consensus, rather than being crushed underfoot.

But the existence of Truth makes the risk of being crushed worth the battle. And because Satan is, in many respects, a paper tiger as well as a defeated enemy, many of his threats turn out to be empty. As Bob Moran has found, being ostracised by the MSM has left him free, independent, and part of a community of like-minded dissidents. And as I have found myself, the communion of the saints is priceless.

But more than that, like all the best stories, the unfolding culmination of salvation history is that the struggle is ultimately successful. The war is important, and for now all-encompassing, but in the end it will give way, once again, to final peace, and the proper business of glorifying God and enjoying him forever. That’s when the real science starts.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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2 Responses to The old, old story

  1. Levi says:

    Notwithstanding your acuity of insight, I’ve been hoping you’d exhaust yourself soon, on that wheel of ixion that is the world of mundane politics.

    I recently read a fascinating self-published book, “the Spine of Scripture’, by Dominic Bnonn Tennant, a Christian of ambiguous persuasion, because I think he was recently expelled from his church (the reasons for which may be contained in the book). A kindle version can be found for two quid. He blogs at

    Highly recommended.

  2. Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

    “I’ve been hoping you’d exhaust yourself soon, on that wheel of ixion that is the world of mundane politics.”

    A very reasonable hope, but geopolitics seems to be what’s causing most grief to readers at the moment, and of course there’s plenty of politics in the Bible, not least end-time politics.

    Tennant’s story looks interesting on his blog. I have a feeling he’s right in the idea that underestimating the intelligence of Christians as they grow up damages more people’s faith than is commonly assumed.

    Maybe it’s the idea that what isn’t immediately accessible is useless or dangerous, or maybe it’s that leaders aren’t expected to understand these things themselves. In either case it’s a vicious circle that would be broken by a generation or two of well-taught believers… only in America that would trigger the “Reformed Doctrine alarm”!

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