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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Wise scientists and wise guys

Yesterday morning a rather road weary jeep appeared near the monastery, and soon two fellows came to investigate the rather strange sight of two grown men, in robes and sandals and woven yucca fiber hats, on hands and knees arranging rocks on the desert floor. After our greetings, we discovered that they were anthropologist on their way to what they think may be a fire pit, which they further think may be quite old and perhaps, or so they hope, an ancient Mojave Indian campsite. After a bit it became apparent that neither of these fellows had any religious beliefs, in fact after inviting them to our noon meal, and at the dining table, we chatted for several hours, and as Bro. Sedwich called them "the doubting Thomas brothers" to which they thought was an accurate description, and we all were amused when I became "Friar See" (because in conversation I was saying, 'I see ...' whenever they would present their side of an argument) and Bro. Sedwick was called, "Father Gull" (as in gullible, and making us the 'seegull' brothers). We did have a good time, and they promised to drop by again sometime next week and report on the fire pit. Well, at the end of the day I think we here at the monastery are still the faithful, and our two anthropologist friends are, one a proud and feisty atheist, the other a somewhat wavering agnostic. Below are some thoughts that I penned last evening, which is a sort of cleaned up version of my side of the conversation.

Science cannot prove nor disprove the existence of God (if 'existence' is the proper word). But to heed Friar William of Ockham's dictum, perhaps science should leave open the argument for the 'existence' of God by simple logic and reason. If I stumble across a twig woven nest, I assume it had a maker. If I contemplate the beauty of a dew laden web, I assume a maker, an orb spider. Hornet's nests, honeycombs, crayfish burrows, eggshells. I reason they all had makers. But I more than reason, I have witnessed the makers of these creations, so forever more I know that these creations were built by a lifeform. So something merely looking as though it were built doesn't necessarily make believers of us, but witnessing like things being built can make us believers. Believers that all like twig structures were built by birds. But how about the complex structure of a cell? Have we witnessed the building of a single cell? Yes. Have we witnessed the builder of that cell? Well, yes and no. What we witness is a seemingly magical progression of events, magical in that the microscopic-aided eye watches the results of hidden events taking place. But with a chalkboard we can symbolize all the various things taking place behind the scenes, the chemistry of it all. The biologist and chemist could say that forces and actions and reactions along with a DNA blueprint all make this seem magical, when in fact it is all a logical progression of events in the building of the cell. So if no one has witnessed God creating 'anything' then one could not use this same logic and say that God created the Universe, let alone, God created the sparrow, or even a single cell or atom. But how about if we peek behind the scenes and instead of focusing on the 'things' build, we consider potentiality. In all the Universe, or as much as we have discovered, potentiality seems to be in all forces and laws and bits and pieces, from the largest to the smallest. Potential seems to be built into all of Creation, from the fundamental forces/laws/matter that the physicists ponder over, to evolution with the realization of that potential in actuality. Potentiality (and implied change) is fundamental to and is the force driving life to actuality. Then the question becomes, can potentiality in ALL exist without God? I think not. A godless universe would simply be accident and happenstance leading to actuality. That is not the universe that I am a witness to. For each morning I awake to the potential of the coming day, and I an active participant in changing potential into actuality.

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