Saturday, 29 May 2010
The seven ages of man
There are so many things I want to rant about I don't know where to start. So, as Julie Andrews says, lets start at the very beginning - a very good place to start.
When I first got on the train to glory - the redemption express - I must have been about six or seven. All I knew was the tickets were free and if you weren't on board you might as well kiss good-bye to life there and then. The message was pretty unsophisticated: 'Turn or Burn'.
Mark Twain once said that giving up smoking was easy - he had done it hundreds of times. By the time I was 30 I too had given up smoking, well, scores of times - and been 'born again' (or tried to be) almost as often. But that's another story, and although my 'church' identity has wobbled from 'what's a church?' to non-denominational Mission Hall to anti-church to Presbyterian to ... well, lets call it 'post-denominational'.
Much as I've chewed the cud on transubstantiation, predestination and all that jazz, two things have always bothered me: If there is no God, these things are only cultural, tribal, or whatever. They don't matter. If there is a God, these things are probably still only cultural, tribal, or whatever and they still don't matter as much as the big, big picture. The entire edifice of all churches and religion stands or falls on the truth or otherwise of the first four words of the Bible: "In the beginning, God ..."
Creation or evolution? Is one faith and the other science? Who or what caused the big bang on the first 'day' of creation? Well, having struggled though Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, I'm absolutely convinced that linear 'time' - be it 'days' in the literal or in the 'ages' sense - is a very human concept. A 24-hour day as we know it with earth and sun in their present relationships and velocities could not have 'evolved' until after the 3rd 'day' of creation! If, as the Bible says, God is eternal - without beginning and without end - the same yesterday, today and tomorrow - or as Jesus put it "Before Abraham was, I am", then the past the present and the future are all simultaneously 'present' with him. Now I think I understand that it is beyond me!
Evolution is fact as far as explaining the modification and adaptions of life forms within species. It is contentious theory when it comes to 'explaining' the common origin of different species, and it is improbable theory when it comes to 'explaining' the origin of life. To call the processes forming the universe itself 'evolution' is science fiction.
At the other end of the spectrum the beginning of my own life was contained in a microscopic event that already contained all the DNA information to predestine my variables of gender, sexuality, colour, size and inevitable baldness, as well as all the standard body parts! As far as I know I grew into an adult rather than evolved from a few cells. The programme was already there.