Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Doctor Robert

Last week, I sat in on my friend Rob Gibson’s thesis defense at MIT. I saw him make the transition from Mr. to Dr. Robert Ross Gibson.

Rob’s field, or rather Dr. Gibson’s field, is astrophysics. His thesis concerned AGNs (active galactic nuclei). I tremendously enjoyed observing his thesis presentation, although I understood almost nothing that was said. The language of astrophysics completely and embarrassingly flew by me.

Lacking the ability to think meaningfully about AGNs, I had these thoughts instead.

1. Way to go, Rob!

2. I am pleased to have such interesting friends. One of my close friends recently passed the bar, and now another has earned his Ph.D. in the incommunicable attributes of astrophysics.

3. God’s creation is wonderfully complex.

4. I can appreciate better why those in scientific fields sometimes (okay…often) have trouble relating to church people. The world they interact with is complex, so complex that ordinary folk cannot enter easily into it. Yet the great mysteries of the faith are often handled in a trivial manner. This drives thoughtful people nuts, especially if they are thoughtful for a living.

God’s word should be clarified. It should even be “popularized” in the best sense of the word – that is, expounded in a manner that any layman can understand. Yet it should never be treated as commonplace and superficial, as something small and inglorious. After all, faith in Jesus Christ is spiritually unattainable due to our darkened understanding; it comes as a surprising gift. The ethics of Jesus Christ are morally unattainable, yielding (if not despair) deep humility. The theology of God’s word is devotionally inexhaustible. If those in our pulpits and pews don’t remember this we won’t have much to offer those pursuing something more marvelous and mysterious than themselves.

5. A final thought. It will be nearly impossible to call my friend Rob “Dr. Gibson.” In fact, to do so would be offensive to our friendship. Friendship is a marvelous thing, too.

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