Redefining "God"

Why are we here, and where are we headed? What do we value, and how do we work towards those things? How do we want to spend our short time here on Earth?

Historically religion has sought to answer these great questions of life, claiming to have the moral authority of God. The ancient stories told of our creation, our place in the heavens, why we struggle, how to live ethically... There may be some moral truths conveyed in such parables, and they may give some comfort in an otherwise confusing world. But too often the Church has explanations that it holds as sacred, which later they come to reject. Today we take it for granted that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and yet in a dark chapter of history the Church persecuted those who tried to speak that truth. Religious institutions may be rooted in tradition and reverence for the past, but if they hold to positions that have been repeatedly proven as falsehoods, then they only offer the worship of false idols, and what in their terms should be considered a heresy against the true nature of God (by whatever name you may happen to call it). Like all humans, even those who claim to have special access to a supreme creator are at times nonetheless fallible. Despite whatever positive influence religious institutions may still have, the church too often continues to preach metaphor as truth, distorting the world as it really is.

Throughout the universe, all reality abides by the same natural laws. These are the omnipresent foundations of objective reality. If there is a God, then these laws are the purist kind of gospel, not written by our ancestors, but encoded directly into the fabric of reality itself. And if those laws are to be revealed to us through science, then the Church must embrace them if it continues to claim to speak the Truth.

For many accepting a new vantage point can be frightening, threatening our egos, putting us on the defense, forcing us to admit where we were mistaken. Perhaps with no scientific teaching has this been more true than with Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Each year the mountain of evidence supporting it continues to grow. We can study this reality from a multitude of angles, using different methods: the fossil record, the geographic distribution of species, geology & carbon dating, and the study of biology & genetics. And yet these various scientific disciplines have independently arrived at the same conclusions. They've converged upon the same Truth. While the finer points of our understanding are continually being refined, the fact that evolution has given rise to Earth's diversity of species is now irrefutable. Even the Catholic Church has integrated an acceptance of evolution into its teachings. Hopefully America's Evangelicals won't be too far behind.

And so, being slowly dragged along by history, so too does our understanding of God evolve. And yet there are those who still interpret ancient scripture as the absolute, final word, where every sentence should be held as gospel, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. They needlessly see Evolution as an affront to the very existence of the Creator (and perhaps to their own authority), when it could just as easily be understood as part of the creation, as the mechanism by which whatever higher power gave rise to the great diversity of life. But the truth is that coming to know how life arose on Earth should in no way make its existence any less sacred.

Language is fluid, where words only have whatever meaning that we associate with them. They can trigger different thoughts & colorings within each of us based upon our life experiences. The word 'God' means various things to each of us, but in many ways the current meaning of that word has been distorted into something closer to fiction. And when a more primitive culture's definition is forced upon those who have seen evidence to the contrary, the word can trigger not reverence, but an aversion. If we are to ever end the polarization between science and religion, then we need to reevaluate how we define the word 'God', not allowing it to represent one culture's ethnocentric projections, but rather expanding its meaning to represent the true nature of the universe and what's beyond, objective reality itself, the depths of which humans will probably always struggle to fully comprehend.

Lantern Procession