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Paul thought about it. Sure, a part of him wanted to dispute it, but he really was just curious.
Bill smiled before Paul could say anything. “If you’re conflicted about whether or not that was your intent, consider this question: What are you basing your dispute on? It’s a good scientific place to start.”
“Christianity isn’t true.” It was more an answer to Bill’s question than an assertion.
“And how do you know that?” Bill asked.
“For starters, the world wasn’t made in seven days,” Paul said.
Bill smiled. “And how do you know that?” He put up a hand to gently pause him. “Again, this isn’t nor doesn’t need to be an argument, but the temptation is only there because you’ve declared certainty where there isn’t. It’s extremely odd in the scientific community. We’ll call anything we deem “scientific” a theory, and we won’t promote it to law until it’s proven over and over again through rigorous testing by several experts. But every theory about creation, evolution, the universe is just a theory, and must be because we can’t repeat and test the process.”
“Huh!” Paul said. “I never thought of it that way.”
“I’m not telling you what to believe,” Bill said. “I’m just asking that you not dismiss my beliefs based on your beliefs. I’ll grant you the same respect. I’m happy to tell you why I hold my beliefs, but even the most brilliant minds with the most reasoned arguments still face the exact same struggle proving what they call science as I would proving what I believe is the accuracy of the Bible. Ironically, it all comes down to what a person chooses to believe anyway. But I can believe there is a God and still seek to understand His wonder and this world He created. But there are some questions we can never really know. I just happen to believe that’s because some secrets are meant to stay that way. At least for now.”
“So you don’t think the big bang is real?” Paul asked.
“I think the big bang is a theory,” Bill replied. “While some people might line up to dispute a six-day creation cycle, the big bang theory also has some issues. Have you researched the horizon problem?”
Paul’s face scrunched up, and Bill smiled again. “Questions are beautiful. But they should lead to a desire to find truth. And you shouldn’t stop at any broad or general answer. Look for your answers. I did. That’s exactly why I’m more convicted in my beliefs. I wouldn’t let gaps in the theories stop me from seeing the only answer that could sufficiently fill those gaps. From there, a person just has to seek answers. Christians themselves disagree on the very meaning of the word ‘day.’ But we don’t let small disagreements get in the way.”
“Isn’t the meaning clear?” Paul asked. “I mean, it’s the word ‘day.’”
Bill shrugged. “I think some people are trying to merge popular theory with traditional Christianity. I will admit that is actually not possible. What is possible is to have a belief you hold fast to. I’m not opposed to contrary theories, but I won’t accept those theories as facts because the very scientific nature of the word ‘theory” is something that is testable, but not yet proven. I think the current synonym is ‘well-substantiated,’ but that’s a far cry from proven.”
Paul couldn’t keep himself from asking questions. He’d finally had someone right there who wouldn’t vanish in a flash of light and a strange temperature swing. The conversation shifted from creation theory to physics. Then they talked about the Law of Conservation. Paul would mention something about teleportation, and Bill responded by mentioning various mathematical problems he knew existed that were related to things like matter and energy transfer.
“I’m not sure energy could travel very far unless it had an anchor of some kind,” Bill said. “But I haven’t given it much thought.”
“I’m not sure you two realize what time it is.” Paul’s head spun to his mother.
He looked around. His dinner plate had vanished. Crumbs of the pie his mother made for desert sat on a small plate in front of him. The other dishes were cleared away. The lights were on, and the windows outside were dark. How long had we been talking?
Paul looked at his Wrist Bit. The device said it was 9 p.m.
“I’m so sorry,” Bill said. “We’ve completely ignored you.”
Bill’s words caused Paul’s head to swing back to his mother. She didn’t look mad. In fact, she had one of the biggest smiles he’d ever seen. She was beautiful! Well, Paul’s mom was always regarded as pretty, but there was something different about her.
“I’ll let it slide this once.” The sarcasm was obvious in her tone. “But maybe next time we could all play video games or talk about something that doesn’t require hours of research.”
“Can you come over tomorrow?” Paul asked.
Bill laughed. “I was hoping to take your mother out tomorrow.” Paul’s mom blushed as Bill spoke. “But I’d love to come by again some other time.”
“I don’t remember saying you could take me out tomorrow,” Paul’s mother said.
“I see.” Bill put on a fake frown. “I suppose I’ll have to find something else to do. Maybe I can sell these tickets to the ballet and go grab a cheeseburger.”
“I think I like the ballet,” Paul’s mother said.
“Do you?” Bill replied. “Well I’d love to take you if you’d do me the honor.”
“I think I can allow that.”
Paul opened his mouth and pointed his finger inside as he rolled his eyes. “I’m going to go up stairs.” He rushed over and gave his mother a quick one-armed hug.
He froze, looking at Bill. “Um … goodnight.”
The End of Chapter 7
… to be continued …