Life of Pi

1. Life of Pi can be used as a good analogy of (at least) Genesis 1-11 (and some other parts of the Scriptures). God can tell us about the Big Bang in the beginning of time and the evolution that has occurred since billions of years ago. But it would take out all the fun, wouldn’t it (not that the story of evolution is boring; it is fun as well, but in a different way). And thus, we read in Genesis 1 that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth in six days — which, although not how creation “really” happens, is “a better story”. So please stop all the crap about earth being 6000 years old. Flood geology is a scientific fraud. Humans did not live together with dinosaurs (they only did so in The Flinstones). The universe doesn’t appear old because God created it to appear old. The star lights that we see doesn’t come from million years ago because God created it to age million years ago. The universe appears old because it is indeed old. The star lights does come from million years ago. Adam and Eve might not exist. Noah’s flood was based on a well-known local flood around Mesopotamia. Noah and his ark might not exist as well. But, does it mean that all these stories became false? Not really. All these stories are still as true to me as ever before. The Israelites (like any other civilizations in the world) told their origins in myths. But God speaks through myths too. Jesus taught mainly in parables. In the insurance report, the writer found that eventually the insurance agents chose the story with the Bengal tiger, although they were fully aware that the story is not “real” in the modern, empirical sense. They could have gone with the “real” story with the cook and the sailor, but they didn’t. They chose the story with the Meerkats and the carnivorous island. The Gospel of Christ does make no sense at all, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use our senses at all.

2. Here’s the thing. Some Christians think that all the narratives recorded in the Bible must happen as in their letter-al, over-the-surface sense. Pi really shared the boat with a tiger, a hyena, a zebra, and an orang utan. He really found a carnivorous island with meerkats in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific. He really found an island which fresh water turned acidic every night. That’s what “really” happened. Indeed, that’s what must have happened, or else Pi doesn’t exist at all. On the other hand, there are also some people who, having studied the Genesis 1-11 carefully in relation to its genre and contexts, concluded that the narratives recorded there are indeed myths. Pi didn’t really share the boat with a tiger. His story is a symbol of the “real” story, where he shared the boat with a cook, a sailor, and his mom. But then these people took another step further, which is to rule out all the truth claims in Genesis 1-11. Since they didn’t “really” occur, it means that they are worthless. But, again, the insurance agents eventually chose the story with the tiger. Even if we could find out all the “real” meanings of the narratives in the Bible, eventually we would return to the narratives themselves. Even if we now understand that these narratives are myths, it doesn’t mean that we should abandon them altogether. These are precisely how God speaks to us.

3. The story of Pi is irrational, just like pi itself. But it is, indeed, a beautifully irrational myth, again just like the mythic number itself. Claims about God can indeed be outrageous, but sometimes only that kind of talks could fit the outrageous God himself.

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