Monday, October 05, 2009

The God of Tectonic Plates

Posted on 1:29 PM by merrilymerrily

So God. People. Time. Sin. Pain. I'm assuming for this line of thought that we are examining through physical evidence the nature of a potential creator as outlined biblically.

I had a recoil moment yesterday when someone 'acknowledged' suffering as a result of human sinfulness. I think some things clearly are, although mostly complex. war. abuse. even climate change, weather patterns and environmental degradation could viewed in that way if you were so inclined. Current diseases one could argue may have eventuated since the 'fall'. But when the earth moves, humanity has not a bit of influence. Never has. Never will. In the small amount of time humans have been considered 'human' the tectonic plates and volcanic activity have not changed, but have continued to follow the same principles for millennia. They were ALWAYS going to cause the pain and destruction that they do on humanity, no matter what big choice we had to make. So either a) we were formed predestined to somehow 'deserve' pain and suffering or b) pain and suffering were going to happen even if we didn't make bad choices, they are not linked.
So obviously this God does not put as much value on human pain as we do, either because there is something he considers a larger good that he it achieving (not only our worship and reliance on him, but our choosing to do so) or he really can't conceptualise the scale of our experience within the limited framework that we have. Maybe he really doesn't notice that much.
So, what is our experience, what is it based on? For people, pain is not merely a collection of nerve endings reacting to stimulus, although that is part of it. Much of our pain comes from our ability to see into the future and hold onto the past, to empathise, to understand our own mortality, to contemplate and imagine the unknown. Many of these things are from what we know, uniquely human. Homo Sapiens.

What if the fall itself was actually our final evolutionary step? What if the explanation offered in Genesis describes man's transition to sentience? What if God never wanted us to move beyond the step before us, bearing more animal characteristics. Hunting and gathering, reliant on provision by unaltered nature, instinctive, isolated groups, unaware of our own mortality, experiencing life from moment to moment. That would explain the metaphor of the tree of knowledge. Adam is forced to work the soil - transition from nomadic tribal hunter gatherers to agricultural practices. Even down to the fact that Eve will labour during childbirth - one of the main things that makes childbirth difficult is our transition to fully upright walkers with corresponding narrowing of hips. We have knowledge of ourselves, the ability to manipulate each other, ability to alter the earth, and ongoing knowledge of it's ability to crush us like bugs. Population growth has come from knowledge - farming practices, health care, medicine. Larger groups created competition and conflict. Because of our knowledge and evolved brain we have the ability to act on a grand scale before understanding the consequences. Some effects are obvious, some are not, how were we to know? How are we to be blamed for following the evolutionary drives that apply to all life?

Maybe the Amish haven't gone far enough. Maybe this God of ours doesn't actually take joy in all we've accomplished. Maybe all scientific knowledge, all poetry, all art are nothing more than symptoms of the disappointing and self destructive direction humanity has taken. If he is there, maybe the things I value most in myself have no relevance to him. I'm not sure how to love and trust in that situation

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