Saturday, October 20, 2007

Science and God

I'm betting on God. I have a bumper sticker that says "Darwin", then a "plus" sign, then a Christian symbol, an "equals" sign, and lastly, a stick figure of a person. The wife of a friend had these done after her minister husband told her of a discussion that he and I had one day. My theology admits both God as the "designer" of the universe and "evolution" as the process by which I ended up writing this blog.

I'm not alone. In the past day I've had a conversation with a very bright science teacher who said "the more I know about creation, the more I believe that God made it possible", and with a very bright clergyman who felt the same way. Two other scientist friends, one an expert in microwaves and another an eminent chemist, are also convinced about God largely because of their scientific knowledge.

The Good Witch and I are currently watching the DVD series "Sensation, Perception, and the Aging Process" from The Teaching Company. I've been brought up to date on the latest research about how the sensory systems work and how they deteriorate as people get to be my age - 63. The combination of physical structures and brain function that enables our sensory perceptions is awesome, but I can accept that a billion years of evolution could account for who we are today.

I recently mentioned that I had read Carl Sagan's "Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God". Sagan, a brilliant man, was an atheist who demanded testable proof of God's existence. But I think God has left plenty of clues, and proof would spoil His party.

But simply admitting God is a rather dry admission. What's it all about? One could have a negative point of view after pondering how much of the created universe has already been destroyed in giant cataclysms, and understanding that our sun will someday vaporize the earth - fortunatly, in a few billion years.

I hang my hat on the positive idea that God wants to be known, and I believe that I will someday be allowed to know God in some way. I also believe that God is interested in seeing how we can "perfect" the creation by making the most of what we've been given by God and the evolutionary process. If we wreck our world with a nuclear war or indiscriminate carbon emissions, we will have failed to make good on the potential we've been given. We need to expect much from each other.

Do I have any proof for what I believe - absolutely not! But I find comfort in the fact that so many smart people over the millenia have also believed that "in the beginning God". And if God was there at the beginning, there's no reason to assume God has been on vacation since then. In fact, as I look past the Good Witch and out the window to the trees and sky, I think I see God's signature all over my view. The science of the person, trees, and sky is God's design.

5 comments:

Dave said...

That said, wouldn't make as much sense to say to us, "I'm God, I created you and I care about you. You can do what you will; but, if you work with me, things will be better."

Said a different way, what theological verity requires that God not be upfront about the deal?

Life Hiker said...

Dave, that's a great question and one that has often crossed my mind. Of course, any answer to it is a pure guess, or maybe, hope.

My own answer is that God is simply too powerful to be known to us. If God were to self-reveal, our free will would disappear. Every choice would have to be made in the certain knowledge that with a "good" choice, things would be better. Likewise, a "bad" choice from God's point of view might be met with certain disapproval and potentially a certain penalty.

I like the idea that God leaves it pretty much up to us to determine the fate of our world, and of ourselves. It's not a "deal" that God is making. It's simply an open invitation to join God of our own free will and try to advance creation in the best way we can, no matter how imperfectly that may be.

If, in the end there is nothing, I don't feel my life will have been wasted on chasing a silly dream. I agree with that fellow who said that "if God didn't exist, we'd have to invent him". It appears that altruism is hard to find apart from a belief that there's a purpose to all there is.

Ron Davison said...

As I get older, I get more sanguine about my conviction about a God. I still believe it but I don't fret as much about what it means and I think that - for the most part - our vocabulary and cognitive abilities are so limited that whatever we (or anyone) says about God, its bound to be limited, distorted, and confused. Life feels too big to me to be contained within all that we have evidence of. There is something bigger and something transcendent that wants to find expression in us in our best moments - moments when we reach across the divide that makes us individuals - and whatever that something is, it is what it is regardless of what we call it or whether we believe it is there.

Life Hiker said...

Yes. "More sanguine" is a good way to put it. The mainline religions have all tried to put God in their own box. Not possible! Yet we would be much different if we did not sense, or intuit, that presence.

maplehouse said...

Fellow Teaching Company addicts can now view Yahoo groups and phpbb forums:

A forum on each individual lecture in all recent courses:
http://teachingcompany.12.forumer.com/index.php

My posts in Robert Hazen's "Origins of Life" forum:
http://teachingcompany.12.forumer.com/viewforum.php?f=17

Some of my new Yahoo groups:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Teaching_Company_Users/?yguid=317656331
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Teaching_Company_Users_Professor/?yguid=317656331
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Teaching_Company_Users_Subject/?yguid=317656331

Doug van Orsow
moderator