The Castle is a classic Australian film, much lauded because of its understated handling of a blue-collar suburban household. One of the lines that catches our attention is, “Tell ‘im e’s dreamin’” – in response to a quoted price for a supposed bargain.
I was thinking about this recently in the course of a conversation about the existence of the universe and whether it has all originated simply by chance. My mind also turned to the words of Paul the Apostle to the intelligentsia in Athens (that we read about in Acts 17:22ff).
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else,” Paul said (Acts 17:24-25).
The view that we live in a world that has been created by one God who is Lord of all was a very different world-view from the Epicureans with their belief in chance and the pursuit of pleasure. It was very different from the pantheism of the Stoics and their stiff upper-lip approach to life. It is a very different world-view from the Hindus, the Buddhists and scientific atheists of today who all reject the notion of a creator God.
Yet it is a world-view that many highly intelligent and capable scientists today would support. For example, Charles Townes who won the Nobel prize for his discovery of the laser has stated: “In my view the question of origin seems always left unanswered if we explore from a scientific view alone. Thus, I believe there is a need for some religious or metaphysical explanation. I believe in the concept of God and in His existence” (quoted by H. F. Schaefer III, ‘The Big Bang, Stephen Hawking and God’).
The universe in which we live did not come into existence by random chance. There is a creator God and logically he can never go away. All this is a rather frightening thought, for it reverses what we want to think about God. We would rather have a God who did our will and who turned up only when we wanted him.
The Athenians thought that they were independent, free spirits, able to make their own decisions without reference to any God. Nothing much has changed has it! Paul won’t have any of it: God is the one who continues to sustain the life that he has created. It’s absurd to think that he needs to be sustained by us. And yet we want to domesticate God, reduce him to the level of a household pet. We build grand church buildings and put him in there. We don’t let him loose on the street let alone in our lives. ‘No,’ says Paul, ‘we depend on God, not he on us.’
Our capacity to deceive ourselves is endless. We tell ourselves that what we think must be true, but, think about it, wanting a win in the lottery never created a win. To say that there is no creator God is a sign that we have lost touch with reality and inhabit a dream world of our own. Perhaps it’s time we started to spread the line in a different context: Tell ‘im e’s dreamin’.