Hubert and God

The great Hubert Reeves, French-Canadian astrophysicist, educator, and possessor of a very handsome beard and hairstyle (i.e. like mine), is much quoted on the Internet –

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping”,

This reflection has been met with disapproval and consternation by many people whose weltbild is perhaps narrower than it should be.

By our very nature as humans, we all need to define our understanding of the nature/existence/being of ourselves, and so of God.
Of God, because deny it or not, we all possess an innate “knowledge” of something we call (or try not to call) God.

Defining God is no easy task.

It’s not easy because it really cannot be done – any definition we come up with is very subjective simply because it is something that we have come up with using our intellect, reasoning, experience, preconditioning, education, and so on.

Humans are not good with objectivity.

Martin Luther, in my opinion, came up with one of the better definitions of God back in the 16th Century in his “Der Große Katechismus (The Large Catechism)”, where he examines the First Commandment, thus –
“ ‘You are to have no other gods’. That is, you are to regard me alone as your God. What does this mean, and how is it to be understood? What does “to have a god” mean, or what is God?Answer: A ‘god’ is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. … … …. Anything on which your heart relies and depends, I say, that is really your God.

Now, a few centuries later, we ask ourselves, “on what do I really rely?”
Perhaps the accepted doctrines of the Christian Church, formulated over the years by councils of churchmen?
Do we place blind faith in the stories we were taught as children?
Do we rely on the changeable promises and lies of rulers and politicians?
Or do come to see our universe and world as that without which we wouldn’t exist, couldn’t exist, and never would have existed, and so place our awe and reliance there?

It might seem obvious, but they aren’t simple questions.

I started my education in the biological sciences, and after more than 20 years working in that field I decided to change course and study theology as well.
I have a theology degree and some higher qualifications in that discipline.
For the past couple of decade I have been an ordained clergyman (that is, a “Rev”).
After all these years I still find the questions of the nature of life and God to be fascinating, difficult, and hard to answer, important questions .

When Hubert Reeves said “Man is … … unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping”, I, perhaps surprisingly because I am a Christian theologian, would say that he has got closer to the answer than most theologians I have read or met.

(I am retired, but I am still uncomfortably aware that my bishop, ex colleagues, and most of my congregations will not be delighted by my observations here.)

Yes, I do believe that Jesus Christ is the best pattern for human living and his life and words are more than worthy of devotion and adoration – “worship” if that’s the word you like to use.

That kind of worship is good and necessary – but it is essential for us to have awareness and life outside of the scope of our simple faith and worship.

God is not just an anthropomorphised concept – a stroppy old bearded man sitting up in the clouds – a little god created in our own image.

We have no idea of who or what God might really be other than in our imaginings.

We simple creatures need myths and legends and religion – Creation Myths, miracle stories, ethical practices, good living, hope and so on.

But if we use these good things to build a fantasy universe, we are robbing ourselves of our humanity and potential, and we exploit and destroy the world that gives us life, and end up killing the God we wish to understand and love.

The Destination Can Be Better Than The Journey

Tuesday Morning – Fox thoughts on exercise.

The GP looked over his specs at me and he said, “I prescribe for you – more exercise! … More exercise or you’ll die!”

Well, I can take a hint.

But he is a nice man, the Dr., he isn’t one of those rabid neo-exercise-tastless-lycra-gymjunkie-sweat nazis … he is a man of taste, a man of culture, a man who likes Dr Who – he understands the ageing body. “Walk … walk long … walk steadily” he said.

So I am walking morningly, longish and steadyish.

I even purchased a pair of walking shoes – a hard purchase for someone who despises exercise as much as I despise all forms of unnecessary exercise (except for mental intellectual exercise of course … and that and physical exercise so often seem to be mutually exclusive things, alas.)

So I walk … one walking shoe on each arthritic foot – one arthritic foot in front of the other.

It’s not all sweat. There are birds to watch … magpies to annoy … flowers to smell … small dogs to pat … large dogs to avoid.

And then, after the weary kilometres there is the destination … always the same destination.

The smells and sounds of a favourite cafe – the welcoming chairs, the clean tables, the luxurious brew.

Espresso in a double shot.

Ahhh.

Dr, your prescription isn’t all bad.

“Cold winds can never freeze, nor thunder sour The cup of cheer that beauty draws for me”. (William Henry Davis, not Fox)

My Saturday Thoughts On Religion And Humanity

7-8; a.b.a.b.c.d.c.d

Springtime morning steeples ring,
The preacher smiles and makes the sign
Music plays and singers sing
White linen, candles, bread and wine.
Up the steps to speak up clear
– Speak so strong when he wants to sigh
They look, some listen, some hear
He speaks and prays and wonders why.

I can’t remember if I have posted this poem before, but I’m too lazy to check.

I have a degree in Theology. That doesn’t make me good, virtuous, or clever, but it does help me ask questions I feel the need to ask.

Sadly, I know by experience that most religious people don’t think or question. They simply accept the stories that should inform their questioning minds as being literal truth rather than aids to understanding our humanity.

We all need myths and legends and religion – Creation Myths, miracle stories, ethical practices, good living, hope and so on.
But if we use these good things to build a fantasy universe, we are robbing ourselves and our kids of our humanity and potential … so …think!

*Edit – I left a line out … if you liked it before, please read it again – just in case 🙂 

Not A Dirty Story.

Currently on Australian TV (and probably on non-Australian TV) there is an advertisement for a popular brand hand sanitiser where two small boys are refused service at the icecream van until they have sanitised their hands.

Am I the only person uncomfortable with this?

In the coffee shops and supermarkets I see young mothers cleansing the kids with these chemicals. I see people wiping their cafe tabletops with impregnated sterilising cloths before they sit down and order. Homes stock up on anti-bacterial fluids and sprays.

It’s a dangerous thing, y’know.

I am certainly not an anti-vaccination person – exactly the opposite in fact …please VACCINATE YOUR KIDS! – it is important for them.
But please think before you stop them playing in the mud, playing with the dogs, and getting dirty.
That play and dirt is a kind of natural vaccination, it’s a resistance builder.
Hand sanitisers over-used do the opposite.

Before I became a Flâneur, Artist, Photoist, and retired idler, I worked not only in the church, but in science too – for more than 20 years.
I have studied biology and microbiology – I know stuff (OK – not as much as I did, but enough).

If you manage to knock out 99.5% of harmful bacteria from your cooking surfaces, what do you have left?
0.5% of the population of those harmful bacteria, that’s what.
The thing is, that 0.5% of bacteria are the ones that are strong enough to resist the killing agent with which you’ve hit them.

By doing this continually, as the manufacturers suggest, you are weeding out the weak bugs, who form the majority, and selecting the strong ones – the resistant ones
… you are line breeding a population of strong pathogens
– you are aiding the evolution of strong bugs!

Remember – 0.5% of 1,000,000 bacteria is still a big crowd of 5000 bacteria whose population may double every 20 minutes or so
… that means that in less than 3 hours you’ve got more than you started with
– but they are the strong ones.

I’m not saying “Don’t use cleaning products”.
I’m suggesting that none of us over-use cleaning products.

Don’t be scared.
Look after yourselves, your children, and your homes
– but please don’t get carried away.