August 7th, KSUT’s broadcast of NPR’s “All Things Considered” carried a story: “Camp Offers Training Ground for Little Skeptics” concerning Camp Inquiry which has a secular humanist focus with God taking a back seat to reason. The story quoted a youngster: “It seems kind of like the Big Bang that created the universe was an accident, it was a beautiful mistake or something.” The reporter finished by asking: “But what about the afterlife? Are these kids comfortable with the idea that when people die, that’s it?” The story ends with a child admitting: “I’m terrified of not existing.”
This sort of talk is an excellent example of our inability to see the forest for the trees. The Atheist’s absolutism, doesn’t make anymore sense than the Creationist’s vision of “God” on his throne, passing judgement upon all and reigning over his heaven filled with billions of souls worshipping endlessly. There’s much more to God & creation than these dogmas.
Being a reason oriented seeker after the mysteries of ourselves, the world, its origins & what it all means, one is struck with moments of staggering insights leading to spiritual overtones and implications as rapturous as any church can offer up.
Consider the majestic flow of time: immediately after the “big bang” sub-atomic particles coalesce into particles, then atoms, then into masses that became stars and supernovas that spawned complex atoms, then molecules, followed by molecular chains, then molecular spheres. Then, on to replication that evolved into reproduction, with the establishment of the incredible DNA structure with its singular four letter alphabet. In a poetic sense these minute structures followed the same sort of development that their atomic ancestors and building blocks did before them. Then, evolution’s (or God’s) crescendo with the fantastic dance of exchanging genetic material.
The symphony continued with the first nerve threads, followed by brain bundles that coupled to sensing and mobility organs. Followed by manipulatory development - that is, refined movement and grasping abilities, along with the sensing & thinking needed to make it work. Reflect on the fantastic proliferation, resilience and ingenuity of life these past billion some years. Our Solar System and Earth’s story is likewise one of an emptiness developing into a staggeringly complex and magnificent foundation for life’s pageant to unfold in. When considering this pageant I feel the deepest awe along with a visceral connection to the flow of eternity and God’s Spirit.
Where does all that leave our afterlife? Look around at our world - everything is connected to everything else, not just across the Earth, but through the billions of days that have preceded this one. Our heritage goes back through an infinity of generations and stretches out ahead of us. Today is your moment to participate in that pageant, to add the fruits of your particular life to the flow of creation. This isn’t just poetry, it is a physical fact, the Biosphere and even humanity really are stupendous recycling systems. Yet, too few stop and take notice.
I feel secure knowing I exist on the knife edge of an infinity going in both directions; being a product of all that came before and in the end adding the echo of my existence, my soul, to all that comes after I depart this Earth. Alright, maybe it is a small echo, yet it fills me with a sense of glorious belonging to God and creation infinity more solid than anything I’ve heard from those mesmerizing, pick-pocketing, double talking televangelists.
It’s actually sadly funny: we humans haven’t even figured out how to get along with our neighbors or rein in our suicidal greed impulse, but are still presumptuous enough to claim we “know” God…. get real. None of us know. God is too big for our petty human minds to grasp.
Isn’t it time we stop obsessing about our varied self-serving interpretations of “the true God” and start focusing on understanding God’s fantastic creation, our part in it and how best to nurture it for those generations of life yet to come?