Monday, October 24, 2005

Faith and exploration

The PA ACLU's blog has a guest post by Rev. Charles W. Holsinger (Ret.), a former biology teacher and a minister in an unspecified church:
It may be too simple a statement for some, but I am convinced that the concept of evolution led me to believe more firmly in God. Call it a theory or call it what you wish, dismiss it out of hand and suggest that "Intelligent Design" is sufficient and you will short-circuit the search, the curiosity, the probing, the revelation that lies awaiting us in all its wonder and glory. That search, probing and revelation is necessary for all scientific research and that same sort of searching and probing has led me personally to believe in God the Creator. The most important part of the Genesis story, however, is in the first three words: "In the beginning, God......." But the Creation didn't stop there; it continues to evolve, for evolution science attempts to answer the question: How. My religion attempts to wrestle with: Who and Why. None of those questions have final and complete answers and the search continues. But they are not dealing with the same arena of thought and understanding.
A while back, TfK friend Burt Humburg was interviewed in the York Daily Record about his experiences growing up as a fundamentalist, and about the connections between prayer cloth and intelligent design creationism. Prayer cloths are pieces of cloth which have been blessed in some way, and to which people can pray. In some sense, they are idolatry. More fundamentally, they are attempts at binding the divine. Rather than a whole, huge ineffable deity, you've compressed all that faith and power into a little piece of cloth that you can put in your pocket.

Similarly, IDC takes all the complexity involved in teasing out how your deity operates, what the deity does, and wishes, and compresses it all into an idea that you can fold up and set aside when you're done.

Rev. Holsinger is right in saying that evolution can lead to a deeper meditation on God's plan, just as it can be used to set aside the necessity for the divine. Like any powerful idea, there are different directions it can take us.

I don't think religion is meant to simplify things. I don't think the Bible is supposed to give easy answers, any more than science gives easy answers. IDC is a shortcut, a shortcut to nowhere.

"Road To Nowhere" by Talking Heads from the album Little Creatures (1985, 4:19).