Friday, January 3, 2014

God Spoke

God spoke: “Light!”

For the month of January I've taken on a free-write challenge from Jeff Goins to get my blog going again and to begin walking through my questions on scripture as well as other random thoughts.  So if stuff is rough, sorry, I'm going to try and keep the editing to a minimum.

God spoke: “Light!”And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
he named the dark Night.

 It was evening, it was morning—
    Day One.

God spoke.  Is that really all it took?  I wonder.

My 5-hr-old David, prayed over breakfast this morning and I asked him if he'd like to thank God for anything else.  He said, "Thank you God for nature."  That's my boy.

He loves lizards, catapillars, is scared by snakes yet fascinated.  He cares for goldfish in distress.  He's seen many a burial and cried over his loses.  David, God's beloved, reflects his creator.  

In nature I see so much detail.  It's so carefully orchestrated.  It works so well.  I need green.  My cubicle at work is covered in it.  It's why I love the Pacific Northwest so much.  It was there that I first began to really taste and see that God is good in his creation.

So when I hear "God spoke" and boom there was "plants of all kinds" say, I think I have heard it wrong for a long time.  I see God hovering above the waters in sort of a spirit cloud thing and pronouncing on high his words.  He has a huge white beard, flowing robes and just says stuff and it happens.

But if I look at what happens, the result, I'm in awe.  This God who I know the Bible says hovered over the waters, created such intimate detail.  His nature speaks of such care and design.  I can't think that Moses had anything like the trumped up Platonic, gnostic version of God who doesn't get fingers dirty when he wrote "God spoke."

Maybe there's something in words that conveys intimacy and power.  I think that's a better take.  John says Jesus was there in the beginning, creating as the word.  The mysterious here would give me migraines.  But if Jesus was present, and the Spirit, hey-ho, we've got the Trinity doing there thing, making a world. 

And if I know the theme of scripture, I know that what they make is good.  And what they make, they make carefully.  With power yes, but with great care as well.  


Michal Woodruff said...

This was nice. I enjoyed reading it. The word "hover" is such a pretty word isn't it? I found you via Jeff's 500 word link up. Happy and blessed new year to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Hey Philip! Long time no speak. And I realize this post of yours is already pretty stale, date-wise, and that maybe you've given up your blog altogether. But I stumbled upon it whilst weeding out my saved bookmarks (you know the one, the one where you and I discussed the "meaning" of the death of Christopher Hitchens a couple of years ago.) Upon seeing that saved bookmark I thought I'd check in on what you've been up to.

Still carrying on for the Christ, I see. Even if not so regularly these days.

I wouldn't have paused to comment at all except for noting that in this post you talk about how "carefully orchestrated" nature is. Well, it sure is!

Just yesterday I watched out my window as a Red Tailed Hawk, one of the most awesome birds here where I live, caught, beheaded, and ravenously devoured a Mourning Dove. A few feet from me!

We don't often get to watch, first hand and up-close, how intricately orchestrated life on the planet is. The food chain. Predators. Prey. The violence. The brutality. The true nature of...well, nature. It's very hard to watch, frankly, so it's nice we don't have to look at it a lot, at least from the queasiness aspect. On the other hand, it's insanely remarkable from the "we're living in a well-oiled-machine environment!"

I heard that nutcase at the Creation Museum, Ken Ham, "debating" Bill Nye the Science Guy the other night and he would excuse what I witnessed (and all such orgies of death that dominate our planet's "lower animals' daily lives") as a result of a "fall from grace"! Yes! Adam and Eve inadvertently set all animals on a course of unrepentant carnivorous lifestyles! He says "all life forms were vegetarians until The Fall". Really! That's what he said. The lower animals are also being punished by god for whatever it was that Adam did to piss him off so much. LOL!

Ok, so he's a nutcase, and clearly his ideas about this are as delusional as his insistence that the earth is about 6,000 years old.

But what does a more sober-sided, "mainstream" Christian like yourself make of the incessant, unrelenting brutality that exists in the animal world? (Let's leave humans out of it for a minute.) Is this the "design" of an all-loving, all-perfect god? Is that what you'd tell your kids if they watched some hyenas taking down a wildebeest, devouring it before it was dead? This is a "perfect, beautiful design, enjoy the majesty!"

Me, I see nature and it's cold, heartless reality as a consequence of evolution. Nature functions exactly how you would imagine it would if you start with the premise of natural selection. Those that adapt best to their environment live long enough to pass their genes on to another generation. Hawks eat doves, and have the tools to catch, kill and pull their guts out...a well-oiled killing machine, honed over many generations of previous ancestors who refined those survival tools through adaptations.

Doves (Mourning Doves here) provide themselves as food to hawks, certainly not by choice, but their only defense would be to go extinct.

The beautiful balance here, and the awesomeness of the "design" of natural selection is that, at least at this moment in history, hawks won't witness an extinction event in their food supply.

Doves are out-populating the "take" of the hawks. Balance!

This intricate balance is seen throughout nature. One that is awe-inspiring, if repulsive from a very objective human morality point of view.

You? What do you tell your kids about the hyenas? Maybe they've only seen the hyenas in the Disney cartoon movies, the ones that don't kill or eat anything.

Anyway, sorry to interrupt. Just asking. Hope all is well.

Philip said...

Hey Anonymous, I've come back to my sight and will be updating it. As you implied I must have been living in sin while I was away :). No, I sin all the time! I've just been busy writing elsewhere.

I like your wit and intellect but like I have noticed in the past, you seem to want both to goad me and to ask questions, while already having pre-conceived notions (of course we all do, but for helpful dialogue we try to put them aside or at least be careful to define terms).

My stance as a believer on hyenas and hawks to genocide is at there is an explanation. And like you I point the finger at the interplay of God and man. You'll probably deny this. But if nothing else you really hate this God-construction, otherwise you wouldn't spend so much time attacking him. You rule out God but then seem to be so angry with him.

Tim Keller said "If you have a God big enough to be angry over all the evil in the world you have a God big enough to have reasons for it."

I don't think God just allows evil in a passive sense. I think he allows it in an active sense. From our vantage point we'll say, well this defies reason and makes God capricious.

Really? Or is God above us and not below. You like him beneath you, so you can judge him. And mind you, the Christian God you so hate, is the same God who put himself (in a sense) on the cross for you. Yes for you. I know it sounds bill-boardish and I'm sorry if I'm writing angry, but I get frustrated with your barbs directed at what I believe and the God I follow.

Until you either reject Jesus Christ entirely, or find out more this will continue eating you just like the hawk.

Perhaps that's why he allows suffering. I know for me this is often the case. I don't want to turn to him until I'm in pain. Is this his fault or mine?

And when I turn, I find a God who welcomes me, loves me, draws out my dignity (like your wit and intellect) and makes good.

Anonymous said...

Hey Phil! Can I call you Phil? Anyway, glad to see that you've rewarded my peripatetic checking of your blog with a response. Albeit, one that I could have written for you.
As happy as I am that you've not been beamed up, or otherwise removed from the blogosphere, I am disappointed that you once again used that technique of making up what you wanted me to say and responded to it, rather than responding to what I DID say. Where in my post (please point it out) do I even remotely "spend so much time attaching [god]"? I don't think the concept of blame came up once in what I had written, except to ask you, who seems to believe that "all things have a purpose" how you parse that with the incomprehensible cruelty of the natural world.

Do you still not get the difference between our world views? I don't have a god to credit or blame for anything. Therefore, by definition, I can't credit or blame a god for anything. When I point out that the natural world is crammed full of unspeakable cruelty and violence, it's only an observation, not a complaint.

Likewise, I can't, by definition, "like [god] beneath me". Unless you mean that in the same sense that you, Phil, like the tooth fairy beneath you. If we are agreed that things we don't believe in are "beneath" us, then okay. But I believe you mean that I want your god to be somehow an agent that is real, just not worthy of my respect. Do you see the difference?

I don't "judge god". Do you judge the tooth fairy?

And I don't understand where your difficulty comes from as to whether or not I "reject Jesus entirely". Really? Have I not made that clear? The christian idea of Jesus does not "eat at me" at all. Does the tooth fairy eat at you?

You came closest to the curiosity expressed in my previous post when you said your god "allows suffering", although you don't profess to understand why that is. That's the question I was seeking an answer for. If your god "allows suffering" in the magnitude that we experience it on earth every day, is that, in fact, what you called the "carefully orchestrated" way of things? If so, why? Sounds pretty cruel if your god "allows it". No?

Bluntly put: If you see a beautiful, carefully orchestrated world, why is there so much that's been orchestrated to repulse even a hard-hearted man's sensibility? What's the point in that? And why ignore reality when you speak of the majesty and beauty of your god's "creation"? I'm just looking for your rationalizations here, not complaining about the way things are. How do you square all that is, with your belief in why it is?

Anonymous said...

(sorry, was running out of characters..)
You want to characterize me as "angry over all the evil in the world". This is called a "straw man", Phil. Pointing out there is so much evil in the world is not the same as being angry about it.

Unlike you, I don't have to "understand the question of evil". It is self-evident to me. There is evil in the world because the world is not overseen by a benevolent, celestial dictator who mysteriously allows millions of babies to die before they are 6 months old due to insufficient hygiene and clean drinking water. We can blame ourselves, for that, and to some extent I do.

But the cause is not "original sin" or "fall from grace" or gay marriage. The cause is exactly what you'd expect it to be in the absence of any creator. Life on the planet evolved over millions of years and is in so many respects not what we would have wished for. Diseased, defective, predatory, prone to stupidity. At the same time, glorious and magnanimous and capable of inspired artistic and scientific accomplishment.

In truth, we get both because of the way the natural world works, and has worked for millions of years. There is no "goal" for "perfecting" life on the planet. That's tough for religious people to swallow, since all religions are predicated on the idea of living up to some made up "rules of order" to make ourselves better off in some way.

The real rules of order are eat, sleep, procreate, don't get eaten. It explains EVERYTHING.

Anyway, welcome back. Think before responding, please. "Did he really say what I'm responding to, or did I make it up again?" Cheers!

Anonymous said...

P.S.S. I resisted saying this before, but I only have so much self-control! LOL.

You opened your post by saying "I've come back to my sight and will be updating it."

I'm not the spelling police and I don't bust people for improper grammar, but the profound irony of your use of "sight" in lieu of "site" is so rich. You've come back to your sight, alright. All I want is for you to tell me what you see!!!

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Where'd you go, Phil??? Nothing here from you for several months now. And yet the site is still up. You're not dead, are you?
Your pal,