The Presence of God
Every so often, I read an article or see a news story that presents ideas which are not substantiated by facts. Sometimes they deal with religious issues or Biblical material and sometimes with scientific issues; occasionally religion and science intersect. I’m a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, author, and science communicator of note. He has produced videos which explain some of the physics of the universe as well as the world upon which we live. The ones I have seen are excellent and understandable even for non-physicists. I saw an interview with him last week during which he talked about death and spirituality. As an agnostic, he believes the “feeling” we get from time to time (which I might describe as in communion with God or the Holy Spirit) as a connection to the universe. I think I’m okay with that for him, but I’ll keep my belief that there is a presence in the universe which is beyond my ability to understand and describe adequately: a presence which is represented by me as I live my life in connection to others in this world.
That said, I agree with much of what Mr. Tyson presents as the facts of the universe we live in and the world we live upon. For instance, I the age of the earth is unquestionably greater than 7,000 years. The evidence for the forming of the Great Smoky Mountains required millions of years of wearing away in order for trees to grow on top of the rocks. The Grand Canyon similarly required thousands upon thousands of years for the wind and water to cut that great ravine into the stone. To claim that dinosaurs were active at the time of Noah is to deny the evidence from archaeology and carbon dating. To claim that they were left off the Ark because of their immorality is at nonsense and not supported to my knowledge by any sources. The Bible was not written as a science book nor a history book, at least as we understand those concepts.
Rather, the Bible was written as a record, of sorts, by people of faith, who believed in and experienced a mystical presence; a presence which described itself as “I AM” in the Hebrew Scriptures. The stories of their encounters with this presence make up the books we often refer to as the Old Testament. Centuries later, this presence came to live as one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Greek Scriptures that we call the New Testament are, again, a record, of sorts, of people of faith who believed in the presence and experienced it through contact with Jesus. Following the death and resurrection of Jesus, the presence came to be known as the Holy Spirit. And it is what followers of Jesus, down to the present day, describe as that feeling we get when we are in true communion with God and with the other children of the earth. Throughout the Bible we read and listen to the stories of God’s presence in the world, but see or hear no claim of scientific or historic accuracy. We are left to use our powers of observation and reasoning to understand the rest. More about that another time!
Posted on Tue, June 13, 2017
by Doug Meister