This time each year news is usually of New Year’s resolutions and analysis of last years events. It’s the random events that now catch us surprised, unlike I suggest before agriculture established our permanent settlements. For then we roamed the earth as hunters and gather’s, adapting to an ever-changing environmentm more in tune with the elements and nature.
The Australian Aboriginal inhabited the land uninterrupted for a period of 60,000 years prior to colonisation. It’s hardly surpassingly over such a long period they developed their own rich spirituality, interwoven into every facet of their daily life which has only recently been more fully understood and appreciated.
They refer to it as “The Dreaming”, a faith derived from stories of creation, based upon the belief ancestral spirits came to earth to create landforms, animals and plants. In Aboriginal society people cannot own land; land is part of their spirit, they have a responsibility to nourish her as a mother earth. Their spirituality goes to the root of their communities, determining their rules for behaviour, form of initiation rites and ceremonies to confirm their co-existence with the land. Penalties are prescribed for any transgressors of the rules, referred to as the “Law”.
Although the creation stories may be viewed as simplistic, Aboriginal spirituality is far more interwoven within their lifestyle that those of christen religions. This rich spirituality has been obscured by chronic alcholicism and unhealthy diets which have decimated indigenous communities.
“The Dreaming” however did not end with the arrival of Europeans but simply entered a new phase as it is becomes more recognised to day. I think our own christen religions similarly need have no fear of modern day science; rather it opens up an opportunity for an interesting dialogue to embrace our new understanding.
For I believe we live in a world that represents an evolved chance creation, as explained in an article by Astrophycist Jesuit George Coyne.
George Coyne has been Director of the Vatican Observatory since 1978, an observatory which is one of the oldest in the world with roots to astronomical observations commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII as part of his reform of the calendar in 1582. In one of his articles (click here to read in full) he rebuts the idea that random evolution is incompatible with belief in a creator God.
He explains the interactivity between chance, necessity and fertility in our universe and how what is random is also bound together through the process of fertility.What is meant by this fertility?
Coyne’s article explains the birth and death of stars and the combination of chemicals and molecules that ultimately form our life as we are creations from that star dust.He rejects the notions of an omnipotent and omniscient God: the universe is not god and it cannot exist independently of God. Neither pantheism nor naturalism is true. But, if we confront what we know of our origins scientifically with religious faith in God the Creator –if, that is , we take the results of modern science seriously –it is difficult to believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient in the sense of many of the scholastic philosophers. For the believer, science tells us of a god who must be very much different from a god as seen by them.
Coyne also explores this idea for the universe in a similar way.
eg A theologian already poses the concept of god’s continuous creation with which to explore the implications of modern science for religious belief. God is working with the universe, the universe has a certain vitality of its own like a child does, and it has the ability to respond to words of endearment and encouragement.His conclusion is: God lets the world be what it will be in its continuous evolution, He is not continually intervening but rather allows, participates; loves. Is such thinking adequate to preserve the special character attributed by religious thought to the emergence not only of life bit also of spirit, while avoiding a crude creationism?
Only a protracted dialogue will tell. But we should not close off the dialogue and darken the already murky waters by fearing god will be abandoned if we embrace the best of modern science.
I think the need for a ‘Designer God” arises out of a fear that if we believe our creation arose from random evolution, (which it does) we will have no need of God. Hence many feel threatened by science and the idea of a “Designer God” is an attempt to superimpose a suitable explanation in lieu of random evolution.These fears are groundless as science is completely neutral to philosophical or theological conclusions. Coyne makes the vital link to god’s continuous creation and for me it is a far richer and more meaningful concept than that advanced by the proponents of a “Designer God” theory.
I also discount the “cataclysmic” event theorists who expect we will all be affected one day by some tumultuous prophesied event. If that be so it will be of our own making or it will occur as consequence of some giant meteorite colliding with the earth as has happened in the past. The idea of it coming out some sort of prophesy seems completely at odds with science or of a loving God of creation.
Another more disturbing conclusion from the “Designer God” concept concerns the environment. I refer to the current parlous environmental state of planet earth as a consequence of the deep wounds inflicted upon her by humanity. Those who espouse the views of a “Designer God”, one who actively intervene will no doubt feel less inclined to do something about such problems.
l like the idea we have responsibility to nourish “Mother Earth’ as espoused by our aboriginies. I also think it has a degre of commonality in thinking to Cohen’s idea of the universe as a whole, it has a certain vitality of its own that requires a type of spiritual encouragement.
I trust in 2007 we can show a more compassionate, responsible, thoughtful and active role within our environment.
Best wishes for 2007.