|Shedding light in a darkened corner...|
Creation? Evolution? Or a bit of both...
"All great truth begins as blasphemy." George Bernard Shaw
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... "
I've been watching with interest a number of local cable access programs dealing with the subject of creationism vs. evolution. Both sides seem adamant: we are right. Can both sides be right?
First, the theory of evolution as laid down by Charles Darwin has many holes and even the evolutionists are aware of it. Things like long strands and repetitions of amino acids, and DNA stuff that boggles the mind. Even temperatures in places that should still be cold, and cold spots that should have warmed up four billion years ago. That sort of thing. And eyes can't come into existence fully formed according to the Darwinian perspective; everything has to evolve gradually, slowly, in small increments.
But an eye, only in part, serves no purpose.
The eye must come already intact. It cannot do that according to the theory of evolution. Same with other organs and materials in bodies, plants, and even water.
It's not only complicated, but also weird. Both sides push positions that bear more critical investigation.
Ultimately, through observation, both with the naked eye and under a microscope, it's apparent that the universe is the product of intelligence and intention. At least, that's how I see it after many years of studying astronomy, physics, biology, and religion.
Here's the catch-22: After much investigation, I am convinced beyond all doubt that even though the universe is a creation and not an accident, the creator is not the God of the Old Testament, nor is it the gods of any of the religious writings that have sought to describe it over the centuries.
However, I want to concentrate only on the Old Testament God in this article.
The first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, also known as the Torah) set the tone for God's personality. From the beginning, he is demanding (Don't you dare eat from that Tree or you'll surely die!), he's jealous, he's egotistical, and he's murderous. (Comedian Lewis Black, a Jew, calls this god 'a prick.') He destroys the world with a flood because of so-called sin, which wouldn't have happened if he hadn't put that tree in the center of the Garden.
God knocks down the Tower of Babel because the people are building it to reach heaven and he acts as though they actually may do so; therefore, he confounds their language. That way, they cannot communicate and the trip to heaven is ostensibly over. (Ponder that one for a while.)
Don't forget poor Job. God tested him to the max. Took away everything the man had, including his family. And Job was a true believer and follower of Yahweh. Oh, I know. God ended up giving him much more than had been taken away, but still, did God really have to test his followers so drastically? (Even God couldn't replace Job's family members that had died.) And this passage, taken from Exodus 15:7 sums up Yahweh's personality quite well: "... thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble."
Even God's henchmen sometimes defy logic. Take Elisha, for instance, who caused bears to devour more than 40 children because they made fun of his baldness.
Yahweh demands a lot...
The OT God is constantly asking for offerings and wanting temples to be built in his name and honor. And he is insistent that his "chosen people" not defile themselves in various and sundry ways.
Occasionally he will say how much he loves his people, but turns around a few verses or chapters later and is killing them or scattering them. He's hard to understand.
Then, over in the New Testament, he's made out to be the Loving Father. Everyone seems to forget all the mean-spiritedness he displayed in the Old Testament. And of course, Jesus has to come and save his people from their sins, again the very sins that would have been avoided if God had not placed the Tree in the center of the Garden and told the Innocents not to eat from it.
(Much more can be written on the Eden topic but I'll save it for another article.)
Here's the point: The universe is, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made. But it is too grand, too detailed, too bound by natural law to have been created by the egotistical, self-involved maniac of the Old Testament. Don't get me wrong. I'm not calling the Creator a maniac. I am calling Yahweh a maniac. He is the product of fairytale, of myth.
The Creator, the One who actually brought this universe, this planet, this writer, into existence is not knowable through books and bibles. It's not knowable through descriptions and, worse, religious threats. But It is knowable through observation.
Take in the sky on a clear night. Or Mt. McKinley covered in snow in January. Or the Northern California coastline in April. There's the hand of the true Creator. There's the signature of the real Designer. No book, no religion necessary.
I am fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I can see snowcapped Mt. Hood from my driveway. If I get upon my roof I can see most of the Cascade Range from Mt. St. Helen's to Mt. Bachelor to the south.
I am only 90 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The scenery through the Coast Range mountains on the way to the sea makes the 90 miles worth the trip.
I'm a mere five miles from the mighty Columbia River.
I often watch sea gulls fly over my house and within minutes, flocks of Canada geese. I had to chase a raccoon out of my recycling bin just the other night.
I live in a city (Portland) that has very little air pollution. Most days are clear enough to see for miles. And it rains here occasionally as well, which keeps it lush and green.
That's what I mean by observation. No jealous, self-centered god could have had a part in what I see every day of my life. And it's but a fraction of what is available to see. I know that you also can see the Creator's signature wherever it is you live.
It's all just the tip of the iceberg. No telling what lies beyond this world, this galaxy, this quadrant. Ultimately, humans may have the opportunity to experience such grandeur that we can't even begin to imagine it today. In the mean time, we have our own little corner of heaven to make as we will: pleasure, or agony. Our choice.
The deliberate cosmos
You have gathered by now that I am not a biblical creationist. Nor am I a believer in nature spirits, fairies, elves, and the like. But I believe the universe is a great design rather than a great accident. After all my research, it simply makes more sense. What's more, I have a personal relationship with the Designer. How? Why?
Because I could not exist without It. It breathes me, It moves me, It laughs me, It cries me. I may not be the Source, but the Source is definitely me. Of that I am certain. I am as old and as new as the universe itself, brought into existence from the motion, the energy, the star stuff that existed from the beginning.
The God of the Old Testament is a magician, not a creator. And he himself is created--by us. Created to subdue, to control, to punish. In many quarters, it's still the norm. (Do I hear "fundamentalism?")
Unfortunately, the god of the OT is missing the important ingredients: beauty and kindness and joy... and most of all, real love. All I can say to him is, "Be gone. You have no power here!"
Truth is relative?
You may feel strongly in a different direction; that's fine. You may need a deity, sitting in a heaven, pouring out wrath on the bad guys, preparing a mansion for you in a heaven. You may see yourself ruling the world someday, next to that deity, peering over the edge of the Abyss, as St. Thomas Aquinas suggested, watching with glee as the rest of us poor sinners writhe in agony in hell.
Or you may be convinced you have The Only Truth. And you must convince the rest of the world of that truth. You may even believe you need to force the issue. (Jihad, anyone?)
But no matter your view of things, the cosmos speaks for itself. While we argue about creation vs. evolution, it rolls on, doing its thing, paying no attention to our diatribes.
All you have to do is observe.
All you have to do is observe.
As the Buddha said, Don't believe something simply because someone tells you, or you read it in great books, or a guru preaches it from the mountain top. Don't even believe it, he said, if you hear the Buddha say it. Believe it only if it resonates deeply within you.
The cosmos is fine. And as long as you do the least harm and the most good, believe as you will.