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July 26, 2012

In trying to describe God we are forced to use words and language to describe experiences that are really beyond words. No wonder that our explanations, our creedal statements all fall short. We even try to locate God in space and time. The early stories had God in heaven, up there above the stars, occasionally walking around on Earth talking to people. But this three-tiered cosmology with a heaven above where the gods live, the earth where the humans and animals live and a nether world for the dead is no longer credible. With our new cosmology of galaxies and incredible distances of space, God must be beyond both space and time. With our post-Darwin understanding of how life has evolved, we can no longer accept that human beings were once perfect but became imperfect and needed to be rescued or saved.

We now know that we humans have recently evolved in a long and gradual process from earlier forms of life. Each of us therefore are beings who share with our animal forebears most of our body structures and traits and instincts. And since the basic trait of all life is survival, we share many of the animal survival instincts such as fear of strangers and resulting tribal instincts. But something unique seems to have evolved in our human brains – the development of imagination together with the development of symbolic thinking, including language. This means that we humans can picture and communicate images of the past and even describe images of the future that are not even real. Moreover, we have developed a sense of self, an awareness of an inner self, a “me”. Plus an awareness of the inner self within others. It is this self awareness that is the source of our religions as well as our anxieties and fears. Our religions in many ways give us security in an insecure world. And our imaginations and self-awareness give us the ability to create art and music, and tools and technology that so enrich our lives. But most significantly we also have the ability – even the need – to develop relationships with other human beings that we know as love. And we discover that the “me” inside me, the love that is inside me, is much more than a collection of animal instincts. But we are only at the beginning of becoming fully human. We have a long way to go, for our strong animal instincts keep getting us into trouble.

That ancient story of the fall of Adam and Eve was an attempt to explain the evil in the world. Today we recognize that it is our evolved animal instincts that create so many of our problems as we interact with each other. We react with suspicion and distrust, anger and hate, and even violence. We go to war. It is only as we push ourselves to overcome our animal instincts and reach out to heal and support – to love – that we can become more fully human. It is that spark inside us, the “me” that is inside me, that can override those powerful inborn instincts.

That “me” within me has a constancy in my life even though my body is forever changing, all the time renewing itself with new cells. Meister Echert, the 14th Century mystic, said, “My me is God.” Yes, that is where I find God. He is not up there or out there. God is within me. The author of John’s Gospel has Jesus say, “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” The God that was in Jesus is in me! Bishop John Shelby Spong writes, “The power of love flows through all forms of life, but it ceases to be instinctual and comes to self consciousness only in human beings. That power of love is also a part of who God is for me. That means that the more deeply I am able to love, the more God becomes a part of me.”

Loren Bullock

June 30, 2012

“I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”     ( John 14:20)

“Though I play at the edges of knowing,

truly I know

my part is not knowing,

but looking and touching and loving.”   (Mary Oliver:  Why I Wake Early, 2010)

From → Evolution, God

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