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My sister and I recently decided to visit the Museum of the Bible, which sits catty-corner from the Capitol in the heart of Washington, D.C.

Established in 2017, the museum seeks to re-emphasize the sacred text shared by Jews and Christians for thousands of years. Christian evangelicals, Catholics, Orthodox, Jews, and Israeli representatives attended the dedication ceremony, blessing the mission of the museum and singing “Amazing Grace.”

As we walked through the main atrium, we saw families—strollers and energetic kids, mothers and fathers—waiting in the ticket line. The ceiling was covered in bright pictures of sandy biblical lands, and posters advertised the museum’s nightly performance of C. S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy, playing until March 4. The walls were covered in Scripture verses. It was quite the contrast to the metro car we’d just left.

Near the exhibits, an engaged crowd of visitors gathered around a woman dressed in seventeenth-century attire as she explained her discovery of metamorphosis. “These are so beautiful,” a gray-haired man in glasses said, pointing to her drawings of butterflies. “Wonderful,” he whispered to himself. It seemed that, to him, these images were signs of God’s Creation and some deep power.

Later, outside the new “Scripture and Science” exhibit, we came across a group of middle-aged people sitting in a circle, engaged in what appeared to be a discussion-turned-debate.

“I don’t see any evidence for that,” said the gray-haired man from before, his hands in the air, looking intently at the person moderating the discussion—an author presenting his new book to the group.

“Well, I do see evidence,” the author said. “And I don’t mean to offend you. But though most scientists aren’t Darwinists, they believe in some type of what we would call intelligent design.”

“Please don’t say that word,” the gray-haired man said. The group laughed. But everyone was listening intently.

“Look, it doesn’t discount the power of God to believe in intelligent design. There just seems to be more evidence that we came from a common ancestor.” Both of them had medical PhDs. While they disagreed, they were still listening to each other, eyeing each other intensely but not angrily.

What a wonderful little pocket of people, I thought. They displayed a sincerity, a genuine desire for truth, that is hard to find these days.

My sister and I leaned against the wall, listening to them debate. I remembered my parents’ stories of coming to God—the way my mother describes her conversion with a look of earnestness. And I am jealous of my parents’ generation, now in their sixties, retiring, becoming grandparents. They feel lost in the political climate. But their sense of loss comes from knowing what there was to lose. My generation feels no sense of loss, and no sense of God.

According to recent studies, Generation Zers are more likely to feel hopeless and depressed than Millennials in America. Many feel unheard, misunderstood, unloved. Our hearts are gone, as well as our sense of wonder. Without wonder, how does faith grow?

C. S. Lewis anticipated this destruction of the human heart in the 1950s. In “Men Without Chests,” he writes that “we remove[d] the organ” altogether. “No emotion is, in itself, a judgement . . . all emotions and sentiments are alogical. . . . The very possibility of a sentiment being reasonable—or even unreasonable—has been excluded from the outset.” Rationalists have murdered the heart and replaced it with the mind. I remember reading this passage in college and thinking nothing of it. Now I see the awful philosophy everywhere—in everyone, and in me, too.

The soul, miracles, the supernatural—there’s little room for them in a rationalistic world.

At one point, an older woman in a red shirt spoke up. “I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently,” she said, looking at everybody thoughtfully. “I have a thirteen-month-old granddaughter, and she just . . . she amazes me. I mean, to think, that—that she never existed. There was a certain point that she didn’t exist. It’s all of us. There was a point in time when we literally didn’t exist.”

“Right,” the author said. Regardless of what one might believe about how the world was created, when it comes to our existence, “there’s such a wonder there. And a faith.”

The gray-haired man with the glasses looked up. “Yes. I agree. That’s wonderful. What a good ending,” he said, looking at the author. “That’s what you and I agree on.” 

There were happy murmurs as the intellectual journey they’d been on together drew to a close.

My sister and I wandered away. The world seemed renewed in some way. Every little trace of cynicism in me vanished, as though it was never even real. What seemed real was the faith and yearning for truth I saw in the eyes of those middle-aged people.

I wish my understanding of God came from some revelation in the middle of a storm, like John Newton, who in a single moment felt the presence of God overtake his heart and change it. Instead, my journey of faith has been a process of knocking down every single rational barrier that stands between my soul and faith itself. Faith is so hard for people my age.

The winter air was frigid when my sister and I left the museum. But the discussion and fellowship I’d just witnessed warmed me. It felt like finding gold in my pocket. There are still people of faith, and a whole other world outside of this one. I smiled to myself: Thank God for that.

Fiona Lacey is a teacher in Frederick, Maryland. 

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Image by Ron Cogswell licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.

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