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I Believe in the Volcano God

I think there’s a god in the volcanos.

Let me explain. I came across a news item recently about the first ever expedition inside a volcano. There’s a National Geographic program coming up about it. I’m setting my DVR, because that is cool. But the article I read starts in an interesting way:

Volcanoes have fascinated human beings since the dawn of time; thankfully, now we know enough not to think of them as powerful earth/fire gods, but to understand them as the magnificent phenomena they are.

I’d prefer to remove the word “thankfully” from that sentence. In fact, I almost want to replace it with, “unfortunately.”

I’m not trying to get you to embrace some kind of weird spirituality with minor gods everywhere, or to start sacrificing animals to volcano gods so they won’t erupt, but I think the loss of supernatural thinking is a detriment to our culture, not something to be thankful for.

To be sure, believing in the wrong kind of god is dangerous, for we end up doing things like sacrificing animals – or worse. But not believing there is a supernatural force and energy operating within all physical phenomenon is harmful to understanding reality. We’ve abandoned faith as a way of knowing, which means we’ve abandoned spiritual vision as a way of knowing. A person who believes there’s an angry god in the volcano may not be at the truth, but he’s closer to the truth than the person who thinks there’s no god at all.

This is why C.S. Lewis, for example, has no problem bringing wine gods (Bacchus) and fruit goddesses (Pomona) into Narnia. He knew full well that people who believed the gods could throw parties and make apple orchards grow were closer to understanding and knowing Aslan than those who didn’t believe in the possibility of the supernatural/spiritual in the physical at all.

Our nominalistic thinking is not something to celebrate. I’m going to stick to my belief that God is in the volcano, and that when crawling through its holes, crevices, and lava pools, we can learn about the work of the Maker, the tragedy of a fallen world, and hope for the redemption to come.

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