Friday, August 24, 2007

On Creationism

Obviously, I have an interest in how, and why, we and our world came to be. I also have a fascination with quantum physics, but don't have the math or science background (or talents) to understand them on any kind of deep level. That said, I recently read a book (Into the Looking Glass, by John Ringo) in which he borrowed a phrase from the Call of Cthulhu game. He said that anyone who truly understood quantum mechanics had to make regular Sanity checks, or go insane. The game, by the way, is based upon the fictional writings of H.P. Lovecraft, and are about "elder gods" who have malevolent plans for humans upon their return. ( I plan to discuss these ideas in more detail in other posts.

A couple of years ago I read a science fiction series by Dan Simmons sometimes called the Hyperion series. I highly recommend these books (the first two are the Hyperion stories, the second two the Endymion stories, but all are related). Among the things I found exciting about this series is that the core of the message is God is love. (I'll discuss this, too, in a future post.) But he also got me thinking about quantum physics and God, and I believe they are intricately intertwined. So I think it is not only "How Great Thou Art" but also "How Small Thou Art."

Creationism bothers me for many reasons. First, I think it asks us not to use the great big brains God gave us. Is this a test? Is it like the Tree of Knowledge, we have them but if we use them, then we are condemned? That seems to make God very petty indeed. Should we not use the air and water and plants and animals and each other? I never thought being 'used' was such a terrible thing. How far more terrible to, as Vonnegut once said, never be used by anyone for anything. Useful is a good word, it means helpful and effective. So I like people who use their great big brains, especially those who use them effectively.

I find it amazing how the beginning of the story of Creation in Genesis is so similar to the Big Bang Theory. In the beginning God said, "Let there be light." As far as our current science can determine, the first things in the multiverse were photons--light. How lovely and poetic. The next few verses get things a bit out of order, but the general sequence holds. Think ahead to the time when Jesus said, "I am the light..." Could we not all, in some sense, be a part of the light? And could not the very tools of Creation indeed lie in quantum physics, string theory, and the idea that not only are there many worlds, but many universes. Now that would indeed require a pretty awesome architect.

The idea that God was limited to seven 24-hour earth days irritates me as well. What did He do with/on Jupiter, which has much longer days, or on Mercury with its short days? If God is truly all powerful, why should his days be so limited. One day for light...billions of years. One day for animals, billions of years. Can't God have days that are eons long? How sad to be the Creator of the Multiverse, and yet have time, as determined by humans and based on the movements of one sun and one moon, still constrain Him. And of course Creationism makes carbon dating, dinosaurs, the entire exquisitely beautiful cosmos something small and sad. We know the speed of light. The light from the nearest stars takes a very long time to reach us, else we'd be rocketing all over the place by now. How much more elegant and eternal the idea that God as Sculptor made stars, worlds, galaxies that will retain their beauty, slowly but constantly changing, for longer than any of us can imagine.

One of the wisest things the American forefathers did in formulating the Constitution was insist upon a separation of church and state. Theocracies are not a good way for people to live freely. Look at some of the things that rile up many people about the Middle-Eastern countries, particularly those under Muslim rule. The church and government are one. Break a religious law, and you break a state law as well, and are held accountable. For those who think we should mix church and state, I ask: Which religion should be our national religion? Yours? Mine? Should we have Catholic government or a Protestant one? How about a Jewish government? Or Voodoo, it incorporates a couple of religions. Maybe we should move to a Muslim government? Should atheisist and agnostics and humanists be denied citizenship and voting rights? And if the fundamentalists are right, and we should have a fundamentalist Protestant state, which sect should we choose? Southern Baptists? Pentacostals? Seventh Day Adventists? Mormons? Any of the hundreds of smaller sects? We'd certainly no longer be a democracy. Part of what makes America the amazing place that it is is our diversity. We come from countries all over the world, we come in all colors, and all creeds, and we are all free to think, to believe what we want. Should instead our thoughts be dictated to us? Would that truly please God? I think not.

So the next time someone wants to post the Ten Commandments in a courhouse, ask yourself if you'd be comfortable if instead a text from the Koran were posted there. The next time someone wants to return prayer to our public schools, ask yourself it you'd be pleased if it were a Buddhist prayer recited daily. The next time someone wants to put up a creche display on public grounds, ask yourself it you'd be just as happy to see a Voodoo alter next to it. The next time someone wants to replace teaching evolution with a strict seven-day Biblical timeline, ask yourself if it would be just fine to teach that all meals must be kosher, that women are unclean throughout their menstrual periods, and that showing any more of the female body in public besides hands and maybe eyes should be a crime. If we didn't have the *right* to do these things privately, there would be a lot more unhappy Americans. But we do have that right, and there are countless places where you can display your own brand of religion, where you can discuss it, where you can meet with others of like thought, where you can dress, read, speak, pray as you wish. There are private schools who have curriculums decided upon by the schools and parent groups. There is a lot of private property where religious displays can be shown. You have the freedom to teach your child whatever you like. But I have the freedom to teach mine my beliefs as well. Evolution is a fact. Creationism is a belief. There is a huge difference between the two.
Just to whom would you be willing to give up these rights?

The Helix Nebula from CFHT Credit & Copyright: J.-C. Cuillandre (CFHT Staff), CFH12K CCD Camera, CFHT
Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC& Michigan Tech. U.

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