Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Origins

We live in a big complex universe.  Where did it come from?  How did I come to be?  These are questions I have frequently asked myself and I suspect I am not alone in doing so.  The response you have for these questions will have a big impact on how you view the world around you and how you respond to much of what happens to you.

To give an authoritative and comprehensive answer is beyond me, but I would like to share a few thoughts.  There are, at least to my mind, three general answers that can be given, each with a lot of variation.  The first approach is one taken by many believers in my circle and includes:
  • God created the universe, this earth, and life on it exactly (or nearly) as is.
  • the belief that God continues to be actively involved with everything that happens on earth, from the blooming of a flower or birth of a child to earthquakes, storms and wars.
  • God has a specific plan for my life and that there is a specific right choice for me in every decision that I face.
  • science is treated with suspicion, especially when it is at odds with beliefs about origins.



A second common view, and one that is becoming more popular all the time, is that of the atheist:
  • the universe either has always been, or it just happened without any causal action.  There is no place for a creator.
  • there is no thought for anything after this life.
  • this life is, to a large extent, what we make of it and our only purpose is what we assign to ourselves.  
  • science, in some ways, takes the place of God; not that science creates anything, but science, and the technology it inspires, provides us with all the answers worth knowing and will be the savior of mankind.

And finally there is the view of other believers, including myself, who hold that:
  • God created the universe, including the laws that regulate and have shaped it, over a very long time, into what it is today.
  • much, or most, of what happens in the universe, and with life on earth, happens according to the physical laws that were put into effect at the creation; meaning that there is no need for God to be directly involved with making flowers bloom or forming an unborn child.  
  • for the most part, while God has a purpose for people, he does not have a specific plan for the execution of their life.  Oftentimes there can be multiple responses I can make to decisions that are equally good.
  • that study of the created world, science, will help us to better know him and know his creation.  This includes the assumption that the creation is knowable and that what it reveals is accurate, i.e. the universe will not lie about its age or its history.  
Over the last decade I have slowly moved from view 1 to view 3 with two major impacts.  The first, and more troubling, is that it is sometimes hard to reconcile with a more "fundamentalist" view of the scriptures; and I will be addressing this in a later blog post.  The more rewarding consequence is that my beliefs no longer seem to be at odds with what I see and experience around me, making God's revelation of himself in the created world much more revealing.  God certainly seems much bigger to me now than he did a decade ago, although at the same time I have had to relearn much of what I thought I knew.

I am firmly convinced that in the beginning, God!  And that God produced what is seen from what is unseen.    And while I have no doubt that God could have created this universe, our planet and life in any fashion he chose, I no longer accept that it was all done in the span of 6 days some 6 thousand years ago.  The creation itself bears witness to its creator and tells a much different story, a story of an incredibly old universe that has changed over the eons and of life today that bears no resemblance to life in the distant past.

I know that some will label me a liberal, or even a heretic, because of this, but I have to be true to where I believe God has led me over the years.  There is much about origins that I do not yet understand, but I am at peace with where I am in that journey and continue to grow in my understanding.  And I would encourage each of you to explore and be open to the Holy Spirit's guidance.

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