Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Whispering Grass 1 - God, Religion and Science




“Now when I talk to God you know he understands
He said stick by me and I'll be your guidin' hand
But don't ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to”
                                        
For me, God is a concept, an idea of something inexplicable, something greater than me, than us, something random, unfathomable and yet quintessentially part and parcel of the same thing that I, and every other living organism is formed of. It has the power to create and yet is personality-less, it knows few boundaries; in fact, it probably knows no boundaries. It is not framed by definition in the way I am, the way humankind is or any other thing be it animal, vegetable, mineral or abstract. It has no voice lest it is the whisper of the wind, the dying of the day or the sound of stars orbiting their planets, their localised galaxies. It is shapeless, colourless and without shadow. It has no other like it. It is alone in the vastness of creation yet it knows not the value nor feel of loneliness.  God is neither good nor evil for such things are only within the imaginings of men, important things for us for sure but not anywhere on God’s radar. Such is the divinity of its majesty that such things have no meaning. It is supreme, vast, minuscule, and of no mind that can be shackled to any logic other than its own. And yet, little by little, as time passes, the more we begin to understand it. Above all things, it is not mystical. It is as available and understandable as our limited understanding makes it.
"Heaven and earth and I are of the same root, the ten-thousand things and I are of one substance" - Zen Master Seng-Chao
If God had a word for the understanding we are gradually learning then that word would be science. It is, as all things are, limited by knowledge, flawed by virtue of it being a man-made tool, yet it remains God’s for God created all things and at the heart of all things, no matter whatever given name it has, comes the irrevocable constraints of that which we now call science. It doesn’t fall upon me to say these things, to reiterate what is already known. Ask any Monotheist and they will tell you…” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  They would also add …”In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”

For now, though, and for the sake of this piece, let us accept God as a deity, as the Supreme being that from some heavenly abode spun the stars, the suns, the unfolding universe in a manner She, or He, saw fit. For now, let God be the all loving mother/father of fiction. A being who saw fit to make the birds and bees but also gave us cancer, AIDS, hurricanes, storms, tsunami’s and floods. God did not create poverty or famine, though. Let no one doubt that. Nor did God create time for the measurement of the passing of days is a man-made construct as is poverty and hunger.

There is much we have learned since those days when the Earth was formless and void. All but a few would argue that the great creator, God, did not evolve life. There are some amongst us who would argue this as yet to be disproven fact that life on Earth began billions of years ago. They would state, for they have belief and such is greater, in their minds anyway than the laws of nature which have to be, if we believe in a deity, His/Her doings. They would suggest life has only been here for thousands rather than millions of years. This, of course, is in direct conflict with God for it relies on man yet again interceding where man has no right, without proof, to go. Proof has been supplied to us by God’s Word and through His/Her allowing us to understand what was, until only one hundred and fifty years ago, beyond our capabilities.

If God created life then She/He created evolution. A supreme being would not harness itself to the laws of primitive man and only primitive man would see things in thousands, not billions. The same is true of molecules. Humankind did not invent them. A far greater power did and that power has to be that of God. That being so then we did not create Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. It was there for all time and it took an eternity for us to understand it. Now we do. We are all children of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; we all have a right to be here, to exist in harmony with the gifts God has given us even when those things have not always been clear to us for in the end the universe, and God, is as unfolding as it should be. God reveals what He/She wants as and when we are able to understand.
Without a doubt, humankind is of one shared history. We have come from the same stock, the same well-spring. Life did not begin in the freezer but a warming oven. That hotbed from which life, human life, came was what we now call Africa, most likely Ethiopia. At one stage, many ages past, we all would have been black. The evidence for this is found in our shared DNA. And as we are created in the likeness of God then God too is black.

In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.…”  - Genesis.
Whether there is or isn’t a personal God is immaterial. There is no proof one way or the other. Religion cannot prove there is and science cannot prove there is not. History, for what it is worth, and it does reveal much, can only ever be a thing of perspectives. For those who fought in the Second World War, it involved the Germans, Italians and the Japanese. For the Japanese, the war with America started a lot earlier and the Nazi party was incidental to Japan’s anger toward America.
History reveals that there was no Moses. Nor would there have been an Abraham who took notes, transcribed them on tablets of stone. We know this from the hieroglyphs and scrolls used at the time that had there been an Abraham he would have needed a truck to carry the weight of tablets down for writing as we know it had  not been invented then. As for God, Abraham and Issac, when Yahweh instructs Abraham to barbecue his first born son, then set a torch to the fruit of his loins, does anyone really think God, a loving, caring deity, could do such a thing? The child may not have been burnt, and in that some Monotheist's tragically miss the point, but Yahweh would still be guilty of wilful cruelty for he never shared his pantomime with the child before the event.

No, this tale is not how any just God would behave. It is, as John Cleese said, a case of Monotheists taking a literary work literally. It, the Tanakh, was never meant as such. They are fables wherein can be found serious wisdom. If anyone, even God, says kill your child then be assured that it is not the voice or word of God requesting such a hellish evil but something other, something lesser, something very human and not at all divine. 

Science as we know it is as revealing as we are able to understand it. We did not make it up, we did not create it we merely named it. Something, or someone if you would prefer, did that. All science ever can be is a tool by which we grasp at the vague. Blame not scientists for their chill calculus. Blame yourself for having your intellect subjected to falsehoods by religious authority and in preferring false truths over sublime fact.

As far as I am concerned atheism is a reaction  to Theism, one which I will look at in the next chapter. For me, the truth is far more important. Without truth we are nothing. All the fables and fictions that are set upon us like so many bats flittering about our heads become nothing but that which gets tangled in the hair – irritants. We are better than that. Truth matters. It teaches us more than anything, even religion. Without truth we are nothing.
Fundamentalists, be they Muslim or Evangelical, are wanton individuals who, under no guidance or ordinance from God, hijack His/Her supreme authority for no better reason than they feel Her/Him inadequate. They do not seek the truth. They are uninterested in the truth. All they seek is self–gratification. This is self-evident for by their very actions they remove the one thing God has over all things, all acts, actions, thoughts and opinions – power. If I am to answer to anyone come judgement day then it will be to one ultimate being – the supreme creator.  It will not be to some knife wielding subject of their own ambitions hell bent on decapitating me. Even headless you cannot defeat a thought, you cannot defeat truth.

"There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn't matter which path you take. The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone else that their path is wrong."  - Hindu Teaching


God as a concept, as a word that shapes something undefinable, but not a personal deity who enacts such unbelievable cruelty as according to Monotheists is still a beautiful thing. When I write I am aping gods. When we paint we are exploring gods. When we hear music it is the sound of gods. Random, cruel, unknowable, never vindictive but there - within and without us. It is with creativity, with joy, with a sense of being that the divine enters us. It is that feeling of godhead that we primates, with that singular difference to our fellow animals, feel. It is why primitive man, still only able to see that which is in front of him not realising, let alone recognising, that god's, God even, does not fit within our perceptions of what is and what isn't, creates deities in human form.

"There was always SOMETHING out there in the deep, mysterious void. IT was ONE. IT was simple when ignored and complex when observed. IT was incomprehensible and without definition. And in its complexity IT was neither “being” nor “non-being;” neither male nor female. IT was without form, and without need of sustenance of any kind. IT knew neither time nor space and yet IT birthed all “being” as yin and all “non-being” as yang. IT was TAO… the Way of Things… the eternal source and sustainer of all things.
…And then there was time and sequence of events, and yin and yang gave birth to the illusion of all division and “being.”
When men began to divide things by naming them, many named IT “God” and gave IT cultural names.
And thus it came to be that…
There are as many names for God as there are tongues to speak them.
There are as many faces of God as there are eyes to behold them.
There are as many paths to God as there are feet to walk them.
No name is the complete name.
No face is the complete face.
No path is the complete path
."

Next: The Atheists.


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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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