Monday, January 1

Chance Creation

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.


Lee said...

Good post, Lindsay...and it makes a lot of sense to me. Good, intelligent thought.

Let's hope 2007 brings us all much wisdom. :)

DellaB said...

Hi Lindsay, how strange is this - I've just posted on my page about our trip this week down to the Mt Warning area, with a link and a note about the spiritual significance of the area...

As a true believer, it looks like I'd better keep my eyes and ears open this week, somebody is trying to 'get through'.

Thanks for this - great post.

Ingrid said...

fascinating Lindsay. I am evolving in my own faith and as I was reading your description of the Maori's being in tune with their environment, it reminded me how similar they are with the Native Americans. I have great difficulty with the designer God idea and I think in all three religions, those who attribute certain distinctiveness to 'God' are the ones who need that kind of distinction themselves. In essence, I feel that the way people portray 'their God' is a mirror image of how they see or would like to see their world. It all goes back to how their must/is a psychological need for certain people (great number of them obviously) to have a deity creation to center them in life, like children need their parents in order to explain their world in the larger sense and give them stability in their maturing. What if it all is just a 'dream'? A conscious, yet unconscious abdication of psychological immaturity that is afraid to see the world at large without the clear boundaries a deity provides them with? I am thinking about that a lot lately...
very interesting post Lindsay!

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Lee . Dellab and Ingrid –Thanks for your thoughts

Lee -I hope 2007 brings more wisdom.
Dellab -Mt Warning sounds delightful. I remember passing by many times when we went on holidays from Kyogle. A very beautiful and spiritual a place to visit from which I trust you return refreshed.

Ingrid -I think far more is attributable to mysticism than is generally acknowledged as the “Sacred Texts” attributable to the worlds reliigions are influenced heavily by the culture at that time. Literal interpretations to suit the need for certainty in beliefs .
We live in this wondrous universe, we cannot step outside and view it independently to see reality. So I think we need to be humble and embrace a reverence for all life . Religion then becomes an imaginative vehicle for our philosophy that requires a belief in god by virtue of a moral necessity, otherwise what is left ? I am yet to hear any serious intellectual debate about Atheism, most of it seems to me to be objections to particular beliefs. I don’t believe in that God folks exclaim !! I reply , neither do I !! !!
But I do think reality and knowledge are the same thing. When we have knowledge of something it becomes reality, so I am no so keen on the idea its a dream,since that takes down the irreversible road to abstraction, rather I think we only see part of the picture, but that part is very real. As we gain in knowledge so we gain in understanding reality, wisdom, but we will never fully understand it all because we cannot view it independently !! Thankyou for your thoughtful comments.

Gary said...

Thanks for the insight and inspiration. While I'm more of a believer in Richard Dawkins's writings than theology, I do love to acknowledge my ignorance now and then too!

Happy New Year.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Gary –thanks for your comments –I must read more about Dawkins but I gather from what I have read so far except for very occasional referrals to ‘sophisticated’ religious believers, Dawkins regards religion and fundamentalist religion as one in the same. Hence I would say to him if I was in a debate, I don’t believe in that God either !! Because some happen to murder abortionists and malign homosexuals doesn’t advance a cause for atheism.

Personally I think her is quite right to repudiate fundamentalism and literal interpretation by others who promote obnoxious ideas, but just because they are other people’s ideas is not a valid argument to repudiate the moral necessity for existence of god. If you count on God as an individual, then his arguments have merit, but that’s miles away from what modern day theologians espouse ! so I wonder if Dawkin realises to day they reject ideas of miracles and a virgin birth, instead seeing these stories as parables, symbolic references to provide meaning and promote a compassionate reverence to life.

Life to me is a miracle in itself, there is no need to invent new ones.

If your able to direct me to any of his writings that argue the case for atheism on an interlectual basis other than by making referrals to others fundamentalists views and their lack of merit,I would be most interested in learning more about that !! .

Best wishes.

Zee said...

Interesting train of thoughts...
In any case, be well in 2007!

bohemiantroubadour said...

C'est la vie.

Granny said...

Great post and much I didn't know.

I was thinking of our own indigenous people too.

Madcap said...

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.

I love this passage! That's our homeschooling philosophy grown large!

grannyfiddler said...

I agree with Ingrid's statement that "In essence, I feel that the way people portray 'their God' is a mirror image of how they see or would like to see their world." and i would add that how one portrays one's god offers some good hints about how one feels about humanity and the planet in general. the desire to subjugate nature and other peoples that has been prevalent in western culture for so long speaks to me of a dangerous arrogance.

on miracles - we use this word to give a name to what we don't understand. it seems to me that there is science behind every occurrence, whether we understand it or not... but use of the word 'miracle' confers the blessing of wonder and awe. when we understand things with intellect only, and without spirit and heart, they are changed, and something vital is lost.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Zee, BT, Madcap. Granny & Granny Fiddler
Thanks for visiting.

I aree with you, I think that interpretation is refreshing, it conveys to me a sense and spirit of freedom –beautiful words.

Granny -yes there is comnonality with our respective indiginous communities.

Granny Fiddler

Thankyou for your thougthful remarks.

I think our image of god is influenced by whether we see God as a person or not, but I agree either way our humnanity influence these images.

Your are correct in that meaning of the word miracle, derived from the old latin miraculum meaning 'something wonderful', but in the context of bibical events, many think of these so called "Miracles" as a record of divine intervention by God, a misinterpetation according to most modern day theologians.

Hence this also influences our images.

Best wishes

Wendy A said...

Excellent post Lindsay, I had heard of the Dream world of aboriginals but now I have a better understanding of their beliefs. Too bad tassie aboriginals met such an brutal end. Sigh......

lindsaylobe said...

HI wendy
Yes –you may be interesting to hear what "Mark Twain” had to say about it in Australia when on a lecture tour in 1897:

During that time as recorded in the "The Wayword Tourist " he made many comments concerning the aboriginals.

"There are many humourless things in the world; among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages”. `

“A Squatter, whose station was surrounded by Blacks, whom he suspected to be hostile and from whom he feared an attack, parleyed with them from his house-door. He told them it was Christmas –a time which all men, black or white, feasted; that there floor, Sugar, plums. Good things in plenty in store. And that he would make for them such a pudding as they have never dreamt of –a great pudding of which all might eat and be filed. The blacks listened and were lost. The pudding was made and distributed. Next morning there was howling in the camp. For it had been sweetened with sugar and arsenic!
Best wishes

Josie said...

Lindsay, I have had trouble posting on your blog since your switched, but occasionally my computer "lets" me on. This is a wonderful post...! And so timely. I am very concerned about the state of the earth's environment and what we have done to it. Your Aboriginal people have many similar beliefs to our First Nations.

Wasn't it Einstein who said that the closer he got to science, the closer he got to God? It's true, isn't it? They are not separate.

I think the first thing people everywhere need to do is to learn to live a more independently of their cars. We live in such a car oriented society in North America and I guess in other parts of the world too. We need to get out of our cars (I don't own a car...) and learn to walk more. I think the one man who has had the most devastating impact on the world is Henry Ford.

What a great post. And Happy New Year...!


abhay k said...

Hi Lindsay,
Very thoughtful!
How can I mail you?

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Josie & Abhay k

Thanks for visiting

Josie _yes I agree with you.

~ Einstein’s thoughts~

The Mysterious
"The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science."

The Religiousness of Science

"There is a religious motive for doing science, but it does not entail a belief in a personal God.

The Development of Religion

The three stages of religion, of which the highest is "cosmic religious feeling."

Science and Religion

Religion and Science: Irreconcilable?
There is no necessary conflict between science and religion if the nature of religion is properly understood.
Abhay k -My e mail contact is