I’m looking forward to talking about my book, “Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith,” with the people of St. John’s on April 14. It will be a video chat. I’ll talk a little, and I’ll listen a lot -- because I want to hear how readers are responding to the many varied voices and faith journeys I encountered in the course of putting together “Wrestling with God.”
A fundamentalist Christian has his say in the book. So does a
progressive Muslim. There’s a software engineer who describes himself
as a “happy atheist” and a Buddhist monk who talks about bowing his
way up the California coast from Los Angeles to Ukiah.
And – a special treat for members of St. John’s – Geoff Machin has his
say as well. Geoff and his wife Ann were long time members of St.
John’s before they moved to Canada several years ago.
Geoff told me that, as a fetal and genetic pathologist here in the Bay
Area, he delivered a lot of bad news to prospective parents. He saw
newborn infants with terrible malformations of the heart or the lungs. He
saw babies born without a brain or kidneys.
“The fact is,” Geoff said, “we humans are the products of millions of
years of evolution. We were not created ‘good’ or ‘innocent.’ Like every
other plant and animal on earth, we are deeply competitive, and we
always have been. Warfare rages throughout all of animal and plant life.
Human beings, the whole of biology, groans in competition.”
Christians have been struggling with this Darwinian view of human
nature for a century and a half. How are we to reconcile our Christian
faith with what science tells us is our hopelessly cruel and competitive,
“red in tooth and claw” nature?
Geoff has thought about that. He is a scientist and a realist, but he is also
– in my opinion – a man of great faith. He addresses the challenge head-
“Our job if we are to be Christ-like is to follow his commandment to
love one another and transcend our brutish nature—and recognize the
true magnitude of the task. Could that be God’s wish for the world? That
human beings overcome their Darwinian origins?”
Let’s talk about Geoff – and the other people who tell their stories in my
book – on April 14.
A little about “Wrestling with God.” The book was inspired by my
experience as the religion reporter at the Contra Costa Times. I heard
countless earnest voices on the religion beat -- voices that cried out to be
heard and recorded.
So that’s what I did – I sat down with Americans of widely different
wisdom traditions, recorded their stories and put them together in a
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