Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Rethinking the Title of My Blog: Part #2
In the volatile, destructive 17th century, during the English Civil War when neighbor slaughtered neighbor, visionary social leveler George Fox wrote in 1646,
“I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death,
but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness…”
Do these words—“infinite ocean of light and love”--describe any aspect of existence?
Is there an “infinity of light and love” in the visible or invisible universe?
Probably not (but more on what Fox’s quote might mean further down in the reflection).
It seems fairly probable and scientifically observable that the biological world isn’t based in infinite love at all. Though many religionists from Young Earth Creationists to Intelligent Design Scientists, of course, claim otherwise. John Haught, a brilliant Roman Catholic thinker, who even accepts Darwinian evolution as fact has a different perspective yet.
According to Haught, God demonstrates his vulnerable self-emptying love toward all things and all beings because God doesn’t micromanage everything, doesn’t directly create and control life but instead lets evolution via natural selection proceed through various pathways over billions of years!
“The God of evolution humbly invites creatures to participate in the ongoing creation of the universe. This gracious invitation to share in the creation of the universe is consistent with the fundamental Christian belief that the ultimate ground of the universe and our own lives is the loving, vulnerable, defenseless, and self-emptying generosity of God.” John Haught, God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens
To many this sounds absurd.
The natural order shows Reality to be "Vulnerable? Defenseless? Self-emptying? Gracious? Generous? Loving?" Hardly!
Let’s consider again the actual facts of daily life among all sentient creatures, of the nature of biological evolution, natural selection! Face all of the pain and suffering that has gone on for at least 200 million years.
“Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw”
“…killer whales pluck newborn seals off the beach and viciously thrash them about…For more than 550 million years, trillions of animals — perhaps many more — have been preyed upon and parasitized, have had their offspring torn to shreds, and been abused and tortured by rapacious predators…"
"Evolution, a natural force of mutation and selection that is a powerful creative agent of design, is blind to any sense of right or wrong. Evolution is amoral. It is apathetic to a species’ quality of life, and callous towards the suffering of the life forms that it moulds…lionesses are ripping off the limbs of screaming gazelles out on the savannahs…wolves are…eating their prey alive or leaving them disembowelled to die.
Steven Hussey, PhD in genetics, University of Pretoria, South Africa
“What a book a Devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low & horridly cruel works of nature!”
Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin, ed., More Letters of Charles Darwin
And that doesn’t even begin to deal with the wreckage, savagery, intolerance and slaughter by humans since they came on the scene. Or the millions slaughtered in the wars of the last 500 years by Roman Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, etc.
On the other hand, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Roman Catholic philosopher, was a famous paleontologist and geologist who wrote that all of cosmic history is moving toward a loving Omega Point at the end of Time. No doubt as a scientist he had reflected many times on the savage face of nature, and yet he held that ultimately nature will be glorified in love.
Were his scientifically and philosophically grounded observations and speculations, just—deluded specks, abstract delusions that have no actual identity in real time/space?
Yes, says millions of other scientists, especially atheistic ones such as Richard Dawkins, Jacques Monad, Daniel C. Dennett, and Sam Harris. According to Dennett, Darwinian evolutionary science is like an acid which eats through every view of humans contrary to materialism.
So, again, like so many difficult studies, it’s very hard to say; after all basic evolutionary biology, (let alone paleontology), is an incredibly complex study. But common sense would seem to rule out the Fox’s and de Chardin’s and Haught’s view that nature is infused and surrounded by God’s cosmic love.
Who knows in an objective sense?
Way beyond my pay grade.
Then there’s the science of cosmology--the study of the origin, nature, and end of the universe, a highly abstract scientific enterprise dealing with billions of light years, billions of galaxies, trillions of planets…and quantum mechanics at the opposite end of size, delving down into the microcosm…
Way beyond my pay grade, too.
I don’t “know.”
But here are the measured thoughts of one physicist and Nobel laureate, Arno Penzias:
“…maybe God always reveals Himself? Again I think as Psalm 19, ‘the heavens proclaim the glory of God,’ that is, God reveals Himself in all there is. All reality, to a greater or lesser extent, reveals the purpose of God. There is some connection to the purpose and order of the world in all aspects of human experience.”
Quoted in the book The God I Believe In, Joshua Haberman, editor
That sounds almost like George Fox
I wish I could ask a few hard questions of Penzias and Haught, and for that matter the contrary thinkers Hussey and Dennett.
So what of George Fox’s statement, the title of my blog?
Is it true?
Or completely fallacious, delusionary, and absurd?
To be continued…
Part #3 Next time:-)
In the Light,