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Chicken or the Egg? July 31, 2006

Posted by jojoe in Personal.
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Don’t know what made me start thinking about this tonight. In their song, “Dear God”, XTC asks God, “Did you make mankind after we made you?” It’s really an interesting theological question. Is there God without humanity? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there, does it make a sound?

It’s a hard thing to imagine. God just waiting there for billions of years until we came around. Was he bored? I suppose that’s why fundamentalists want us to believe that Genesis is as it’s written. That the world is 6,000 years old and the fossils are just tests of faith. Because for a fundamentalist, God is probably too active in the affairs of man to just sit around for billions of years watching things develop. I mean how interesting would it be to wait for that first critter to venture from the primordial lake. Maybe he just fast forwarded. But if you’re fundamentalist and think God sticks his hand down here, why would he bother with all that eveloution? Why not just get to the good stuff?
It helps if there are a bunch of humanoids elsewhere in the galaxy. Then God can kind of move from one star system to another and mess with things and keep himself entertained. Except according to the Big Bang theory everything started at once, so God would have had to sit around and wait, unless he was somehow entertained by clouds of gases forming and such.

So I guess I’m thinking that maybe evolution is at odds with the traditional conception of an active God that does things like puts his son down on earth and brings down an apocalypse. If it’s all about man, why would God go through the trouble of evolution? Maybe we should be asking this question in biology, along with intelligent design.

Which gets me to another point. I don’t think the religion I grew up with has the capacity of speaking with a truly compassionate voice about nature. I mean, after all, it is an anthropmorphic god. We were made in his image. We have dominion over the rest. Yes, we’re supposed to take care of it and all, but if there is this apocalpyse, we’re just kind of milking a ten year old car, aren’t we? When push comes to shove, it is man first. I mean, would an anthropomophic god really hang around after we’ve destroyed ourselves to wait a billion years for something else to evolve? Would he morph himself into an intelligent cockroach?

So, to sum up, I guess I have a better understanding why fundamentalists resist evolution. Evolution is kind of a weird thing for an anthropormorphic god to do. For Christians that believe in evolution, I think there is a bit of a strain between the conception of an active God that intercedes in the affairs of man and the fact that we are but a blip in the evolutionary scheme. I also worry that the anthropormorphic basis of Christianity makes a love of nature or a sense that we are but a piece of nature a clumsy add-on. Did the Native Americans or Buddhists have it right?

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1. Maria - August 1, 2006

It’s the anthropomorphic notion of God that is “problematic”. Human nature is the easier one to understand by people, but it’s also the one that puts limits around God – like being bored by things, and transfers him “angry father” behavior.

I can’t explain my notion of God. There is a paternalistic human component to it (evidenced by the way how I talk to God), but there’s also this neutral energy/intelligence/order/chaos/raison d’etre/whatever that doesn’t care about individual tiny ants, but about the whole and the system. Yes, my notion is flawed and contradictory, and I haven’t put much thought and philosophy to it… It doesn’t matter. The notion of God is inherently paternalistic as it helps people behave morally, find peace, and cope with life.

I guess in the end our brains can’t get it. As intelligent as we are, everything we perceive is limited by the tiny power of our brains. This thought reminds me of “I of the Vortex” by Rodolfo Llinas, which I’ve been meaning to read…


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