The Quotable Wells and Joubert

H. G. Wells grasped an important truth that many Christians are completely missing - that our theological and moral foundation is found in the first few chapters of Genesis. Wells understood that if those were not taken as truth, then everything that was built on it cannot stand.

If all the animals and man had been evolved in this ascendant manner, then there had been no first parents, no Eden and no Fall. And if there had been no fall, then the entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason for an atonement, upon which the current teaching based Christian emotion and morality, collapsed like a house of cards.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) offered a monumental piece of advice for Christians. In the end, we won’t be standing before our colleagues or the academic elite. We’ll be standing before God.

Study the sciences in the light of the truth, that is - as before God; for their business is to show the truth, that is to say, God everywhere. Write nothing, say nothing that you cannot believe to be true before God.

6 Responses to “The Quotable Wells and Joubert”

  1. jpe Says:

    Wells completely oversells the edifice metaphor. Ask 4 evangelicals about original sin, and I bet you’re likely to get 4 different answers if you dig deeply enough. The upshot of that is that a particular original sin doctrine isn’t a necessary condition of what we think of as modern christianity. Rather, it’s a more marginal doctrine that can be tinkered with at the margin without upsetting the rest of the structure. It’s not a cornerstone in a building; it’s a log in a raft.

    The way genetic original sin is discussed (read: not so much) bears this out. By contrast, the Resurrection is central, and we talk about it quite a bit.

  2. Ogre Says:

    I disagree, jpe. I think the fact that is isn’t talked about means that more people realize that they cannot talk about it — if they disagree, as our host pointed out, nearly everything else, including the ressurection, is moot.

  3. Simon Says:

    I am reluctant to jump in on this topic, but I’m wondering why jpe isn’t correct. As I understand the essential doctrine, Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins. Regardless of the original sin, we’re all sinners — always have been (before Christ), always will be (after his coming). So why is the original sin so essential? Regardless of it, it makes sense that Jesus died for our sins.

  4. BobW Says:

    Interesting. Wells writes “War of the Worlds” and “The Time Machine” to express has values and point of view; though he and his readers both know we have not been invaded by Martians or travelled to the future. But let it be something he disagrees with; and all of a sudden every word must be literally, word for word, true. This is the kind of logic that says the poet is lying when he says his love “is like a red, red rose” because, after all, the lady in question does not in fact have a huge petalled head atop a slender green torso.
    Of course, implicit in his argument that the only two possible answers to the mystery of creation are a literal reading of Genesis or the acceptance of cold, nontheistic, random evolution. Wells’ very intellectual brilliance is enough to show he knew better. Whether God created mankind from dust near the end of a 144 hour time period or guided our evolution (creating us from dust as all life is created from dust; dust being that which turns seeds into food), we remain the only created being to be aware of what is right, and then to intentionally do what’s wrong. Wells thus fails, as do the rest of us, in setting himself up as God; and perhaps it is no coincidence that, a century down the road, more and more people speak of him as “H. G. Who?”

  5. Elle Says:

    I don’t agree, Bob. I think Genesis and the scriptures that refer to it support a straightforward reading. I think Wells was just being more honest about it than some Christians are. He recognized that if we tweak it, we are making God out to be a liar.

  6. BobW Says:

    I would only go on to say that “truth” can be expressed poetically as well as factually, (the beloved really is like a red, red rose), and thus Genesis can be taken as both true and inerrant whether what it describes occurred over 144 hours or 144 million years.
    I might say that what Wells does here is something we all tend to do. We apply one set of rules to ourselves when we propound what we believe; another and tighter set to those who propound what we do not. Most of us, however, neither have nor deserve the respect Wells was given for his genuine brilliance. On the one hand, he sets out in “The Time Machine” a fictional account of how he believes humankind will end. (And a very good and well written one it is.) He then insists that our account of how we began be taken as literal, word-for-word truth. He might at least have the intellectual honesty to say so.

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