Monday, March 16, 2009

The "non-nature" of God

My father and stepmother are fairly hard-core born again Christians. My father started out as a recovering Catholic and a recovering alcoholic. And I think a few other things that I prefer not to ask about.

In any event, while I was over there last weekend, my dad mentioned how he was disappointed in the rescinding of the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He then said to me, "You understand how stem cells work. You should be able to see with your own eyes that stem cells are tangible proof that God created the world and everything in it."

"Hate to burst your bubble, Dad. But I can make an induced embryonic stem cell -- a totipotent one -- in a laboratory. From one of your skin cells."

And so it started...mostly with me reprising my recent rant about creationism.

As you might expect, I've had a difficult time reconciling a belief in God with my training in the natural sciences. As you might also expect, my stance troubles most fundamentalists, who find my statements blasphemous and frightening.

These are the same folks who believe that God puts fossils under rocks because of some need to "test" us. To that, I normally reply, "Wow; and you're willing to put up with a God who has nothing better to do than mess with you like that? It kinda seems a bit petty and jealous if you ask me. I don't think my God does that. But if it works for you, then hey. Good luck with that." Sorry; that just sounds a lot more like the notions of the childish dieties of polytheism than the one, true, "I am".

So I don't buy into the concept of "Intelligent Design". Nature is, at its core, just far too random and imperfect than to have been the product of an all-knowing "Master Designer". And the fact that we, as humans, can reproduce that which was thought irreprodicuble tells me that it's all too much a rules-based system to be the work of God.

What we can't explain or reproduce, however, is the Soul. The essence that makes our existence, as humans, meaningful. That, I believe, really is the work of God. That essence transcends and outlives out physical bodies. That essence is what allows us to connect with God while we're here on Earth.

I think, when folks talk about "special evolution", they're right, but it's NOT about the evolution of their physical being, but rather the "special evolution" of their spirit. When God "Made man in His image", it wasn't about appearance. It was the image of God's spirit. (And frankly, I'm not completely convinced that we're the only species with a soul. I think that Genesis is, at its core, a huge human conceit. Yeah, I'll go put the decorative bone back in my nostril now)

The Bible is a wonderful book, full of wisdom and inspiration. But it's a book written by men, translated by men, edited by men. Men who may believe in their hearts that they have the word of God in their ears and on their lips, but men, nonetheless. With the imperfect motivations and cultural influences of men.

My scientist friends have questioned me about why I believe in God when I have so much compelling proof that God did not create the physical world. When I know how to clone. I tell them that my science has never explained how and where the soul comes into being. My science does not explain transcendent joy. My science does not tell me how we love. And in the end, I need to be able to feel grateful to some power for all that is good in my life.

My beliefs don't mesh well with the teachings of the Bible all the time. I've been told by many folks that if I'm in for a penny, I have to be in for a pound. I don't believe that. I believe that we've never been intended to know the true nature of God. So maybe the Bible doesn't have that definition quite spot-on, you know?

Maybe we've tried too hard to make God in OUR image all these years. Perhaps we should all stop talking and start listening for a change. We might finally hear some truth.


Sue said...

alot to think about..I say kuddos for you to write it...

bhd said...

"I believe that we've never been intended to know the true nature of God."

No kidding. My spiritual training, and personal experiences doing same, have utterly convinced me that our civilized, filtering brains can't even begin to fathom That Which Made Us And All That Is Made. It's bigger than any religion (that I know of) pretends to know.

I believe. And my belief is borne in mystery, and will likely stay there, hopefully for a few more years. And I'm okay with that.

Anonymous said...

I think you look hot with that bone in your nostril.

But seriously...preacher's kid here...struggling with belief in a deity...not interested in worshipping God in church...married to an get the picture.

Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

Wow; and you're willing to put up with a God who has nothing better to do than mess with you like that?

This made me laugh out loud!

I was raised to believe that evolution and the creation story are not mutually exclusive.

One of the presentations I'm editing bore the phrase "If it is labeled ____________ Science, it's probably not really a science at all." The presenter was referring to Decision Science, but "Creation Science" was the first thing I thought of.

winter said...

Beautifully and compellingly said.

Randy said...

Thank you. Your words match my feelings perfectly.