Sunday, February 6, 2011

God, Go There!

Where there's hate, God isn't.
Where there's hate, God, go there!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Love, Laughter, Sadness & Tears

 "Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either."
~Golda Meir
A few days ago, a new (or at least, resurrected) Facebook meme appeared on "walls" across the country; find a random Flickr picture, a random Wikipedia article, and a random QuotationsPage quote and use these to create your very own CD cover. The third picture on the Flickr page is your cover picture, the Wikipedia article title your band, and the last few words of the last quote are your album name. I had fun, and made a couple (yeah, I cheated. But only a little. It was more fun that way!)

There are some pretty fun pictures out there, and the entire exercise was somewhat addicting. But what has this to do with the post title - or with Science, or Religion?

The quote at the top of the page was right above the Terry Pratchet quote on the second cover. It got me thinking.

In the last half a year, I've heard, in large part thanks to Facebook and our constant contact with one another's lives, of so many sad stories that friends and family have experienced. Miscarriages and the loss of young babies have topped the list, but there have been other deaths, sicknesses, the ends of marriages, and other difficult relational problems. At the same time, I've heard about so many healthy new babies, recovery from illness or injury, engagements, marriages.
 "Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either."
We can't have one without the other. We can't really love, or be loved, without knowing of the risk for loss. What would a relationship be if there was never a risk of death of a loved one, or betrayal? How much would their "love" mean to us if they had no choice but to love? Or no choice but to serve, or to stay faithful - if we each had no choice but to do the right thing, to put someone else first, to be a trustworthy friend or spouse? If life and health were guaranteed, what would they mean to us? I think, precious little.

Hand in hand with this goes the "problem of sin". Several years ago I took an online Philosophy of Religion class at a NY public college. I remember several occasions when the idea of sin as a problem for the existence of a "good" god came up. The argument was always "how can God be good and perfect if he is also all-knowing, yet allows sin to happen?" It was once compared with a baby sitter who left a child alone in a room with something dangerous. Wasn't it babysitter who was at fault when the child got hurt? Aside from this being an imperfect analogy, the conclusion would be faulty even if we made a better one.

What would our obedience mean to God if he proved his existence? The "babelfish" argument comes to mind.
What would our "love" for him mean if we had no choice? What good is "obedience" if we can't disobey? "Service" is mere slavery if it is not voluntary. "Sacrifice" can't exist without a desire to give something up.

The potential for us to sin, to turn against God, is necessary. Without it, we're robots. Machinery programed to do what someone else wants us to do. Beyond that, this same element of choice is necessary for human life and relationships to have any meaning at all.

If you can't weep, you can't laugh. If hate and heartbreak don't exist, neither does love.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The End

I have quoted this line before, but still love it. I quote it again having now read everything leading up to it. I [finally] finished reading Origin of Species - a long, difficult read (with a bit of an abuse of punctuation and the run-on sentence - I counted in one line no fewer than 13 commas!), but well worth it.

I have wanted for a long time to have a better understanding of evolutionary theory, and reading the beginning - Darwin's theory of Natural Selection - gave me a much better understanding of it than I even expected. So many of the "it couldn't be that way because of __________" arguments against evolution are answered here, in this book, written 150 years ago - that so few opponents ever pick up! Would people still question the holes in the fossil record if they had read Darwin's answer to that problem, already written for us to see? Would people understand the significance of similarity in embryos, or homologous bone structure if they read Darwin's writing on it? When you get into it, it is truly fascinating.

My brother-in-law James (who finished Origin far ahead of me!) quoted parts of the last chapter that are well worth reading, even if you don't have time for the whole book. As James says, there isn't much of a summary you can give that would do this work justice. I am astounded at just how much Darwin understood, even without our modern understanding of genetics. I am also amazed by just how much Darwin knew about creation and the lengths he went to to learn even more (digging through bird poop on multiple occasions and more!).

Beyond that, reading the Origin of Species makes one wonder how our society today has re-interpreted "Darwinism" to be godless. Darwin himself refers more than just once to the "Creator" in his writing. Details of his life indicate he struggled with his own religious beliefs as he was told by the church that they did not align with his theory. His writing echoes his struggle - containing a quote from "a celebrated author and divine" who saw religion and evolution as compatible. I wonder how many Christians and non-Christians alike are turned off from science (the study of Creation!), Christianity, or both as a result of being unable to harmonize God's word given in Scripture and in Nature?

Darwin looked to the future, to the young naturalists of his day, hoping they might be able to move beyond the "it's always been this way" attitude of the older generation and accept his theory. I hope something similar for the church today: that our young people might see evolution as the beautiful development of God's creation - all part of his plan - rather than as something to continue using as a wedge between the Church and the world - "for thus only can the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed be removed" - and no longer be a stumbling block for so many.