Monday, May 22, 2006

fighting a darwinian "faith"

This post has taken me quite a while to churn out... I started writing two other posts and left them unfinished, then this one started branching off in various directions and had to be pruned and made to grow the right way... I guess that disorganization and... perhaps we could say restlessness... has basically been the state of my mind lately, so you'll have to bear with me!

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." So said St. Augustine, describing how our deepest desire and the answer to everything we seek is the Lord, the God who created us in His image. If the Lord is all that we need and all that we truly desire, then what keeps us from running to Him and resting confidently in His arms?

We so easily start to believe that we can do things on our own, moving further from the Lord as we believe that we have everything under control or that we ourselves must bring everything under control. We live in a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps kind of society. We don't like asking for help. This can at times be the appeal of science, and I think it's some of the appeal of Darwinism. We believe that the universe has pulled itself up by its own bootstraps. We want the universe to be self-reflecting, just as we want to reflect our own goodness, intelligence, or power. As I've said before, the Darwinism/Intelligent Design debate confuses me. I think that's in part because both sides, whether they admit it or not (and I doubt I'll ever hear a Darwinist admit this), have a good deal more than science riding on their scientific theories. Those who fight most strongly for one side or the other seem to be fighting for a philosophy as much as anything else, yet the Darwinists perhaps don't even realize it, because this philosophy of complete and universal autonomy has become so ingrained into our society as a whole.

As this philosophy begins to pervade our lives, starting with the science, extending to our work ethic, it eventually moves toward our morals and spirituality. We live in a world where people long to make the world a better place, to reach out a helping hand where it is needed. This is a beautiful longing, but where this desire is the absolute focus, there is an attempt to turn religion into just another tool to improve the world. Eventually, good works, prayer, even God Himself (or "your higher power") are merely tools to use as we attempt to perfect the universe.

This is the problem: we start with ourselves and work outward, rather than starting with God and allowing Him to work inward.

We do not, our world cannot, grow Godward by natural means - rather, God arranges the natural world to be a reflection of Himself, and we, made in His image, reflect him in a way that the rest of the natural world lacks. If even the rocks cry out, then we know that just as God saw that all He created was good, so everything he made sees that He is good and cries out to Him. As St. John says, in this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us, and so it is His love for us that enables us to love. Our own love is a reflection of His and is made perfect in His.

As I continue my studies, I am beginning to question why I am doing this research. I remember my thoughts as a high school student, dreaming of being an astronomer, marveling at the beauty of the cosmos and the even more beautiful creator who had fashioned such wonders. I'm unsure sometimes what happened to that sense of wonder I once had. Perhaps I too have fallen into the belief that when I can describe things with equations and predict their behavior then I understand them and can no longer wonder. They have lost their mystery. Perhaps along with my knowledge of physics, my wonder at the mystery of physics should have been growing as well.
WHEN I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
-Walt Whitman
This poem has meant a great deal to me throughout the years, serving to remind me that the importance of a thing comes not from itself, but from what it means, and that its true purpose lies outside of it. How quickly we can become tired and sick when we forget the meaning of our work, of our lives, of the world around us! We are always striving for something, always trying to reach further and press onward, but so often we are searching for the meaning of our work inside our own work, for our own meaning inside ourselves. It is no wonder all of our searching is fruitless!

All that we seek, all that we long for, is found in God. Even this seeking is a mirror of Him... a mirror of His own yearning for us.

As we approach Pentecost, may we ask the Holy Spirit to anoint us with His gift of the Fear of the Lord, an understanding of our own unworthiness and helplessness joined with an understanding of His perfect love and power, a fear of keeping our own will and a desire to devote our lives completely to Him as He brings His love to perfection in us.

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