Q: You write that as our understanding of biology advances, so too will our understanding of religion.
A: It impacts upon our understanding of theology. What I was pointing out is that human theology is based on our own value system -- above all our knowledge of good and evil as we experience it. Take an autistic child. I took the case of Jessica Park, who is a friend of mine who happens to be autistic. If she had a theology, it would be quite different because she cannot understand other people suffering. She has no conception of other people's existence in the way we have. It's a radically different world that she lives in. You can tell by the fact that she can't understand the difference between "I" and "you." She uses the words indiscriminately.
So the idea of a suffering savior would have no meaning for her at all. If she had a theology, it wouldn't involve sin. One thing that is characteristic of autistic people is that they cannot tell a lie. Jessica never tells a lie because to tell a deliberate lie, you have to have the idea of deceiving somebody. That's something she couldn't imagine. Since there is no sin, there can be no fall from grace and no redemption.
The example of Jessica shows us how our own view of the world might be equally skewed. There may be many essential features of the world to which we are blind, just as she is blind to other people's thoughts and feelings. So our theology also reflects our possibly skewed view of the world.
It has to, of course, because we have no other way of knowing God. But that is surely the point: anyway to understand God that is not God will misprise the divine in some way. Which is why the Incarnation remains our best hope; and why he spoke in parables. The most we can understand is stories and analogies. The rest is more distant from us than an autistic mind is from a normal one.
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