How Many Circles?

I had a professor who spoke of the one-circle person and the two-circle person. He would draw a circle on the chalkboard for the one-circle person, and two circles which overlapped a bit for the two-circle person.

The one-circle person is the person who believes that nature is all there is. The single circle represents the physical universe. If you attempt to talk to the one-circle person about a miracle, for example, the resurrection of Jesus, he has ruled such things out of bounds. He will say such things cannot happen. No amount of evidence will be convincing. because he views the universe as a closed system. That’s all there is. He is a one-circle person. It is his worldview.

The two-circle person believes in the natural universe but also believes in a spiritual realm and the existence of God. Or, if not certain about God, he is at least able to grant the second circle as a possibility to be reasoned about. If you attempt to talk to the two-circle person about a miracle, for example, the resurrection Jesus, he is willing to consider the evidence.

The two-circle person also believes the universe usually operates by physical causes and effects. Miracles are not claimed to explain everything. They do not necessarily resort to a God of the gaps. Miracles would be viewed as something rare, that is why they are by definition wondrous. But the two-circle person doesn’t rule them out of bounds by definition. He is open to the possibility that God can intervene in this world and do something instantaneously that cannot be explained by natural causes and effects.

The one-circle person sometimes thinks that his one circle worldview is to be identified with the scientific enterprise. But the two-circle person can do science as well. In fact, science grew up in the midst of two-circle thinkers — the Christian west. The two-circle person believes that this universe is orderly and understandable, because the Creator made us with senses and minds that correspond to that reality and lead us to true knowledge about the world around us.

The one-circle person will sometimes unknowingly borrow from the two-circle person. He will talk about the pursuit of truth and moral values and even meaning, failing to realize that those things to have substance must come from the other circle — the circle he denies.

Some one-circle people will even wistfully talk about the Christ of faith even though they believe Jesus of Nazareth is moldering in the grave. Their one-circle life doesn’t allow for a resurrection, no matter the witnesses, no matter the prophecies, and no matter the tremendous transformations that occurred.

I’m a two-circle person. I’ve not ruled the evidence as out of bounds. In your life, how many circles?

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