Tuesday, 2 July 2013

And God Saw That it was Good

Bit of a theological debate today regarding the curses in Genesis 3. Mostly caused by Young Keith's attempts last night to get home from the White Horse, cross-country, in the dark.

As the King James has it, and Keith adopted it, "cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;"

And Young Keith's argument is, clearly this is the case. The ground, in Husborne Crawley at least, is curses to produce nettles, brambles and thistles - all of which Young Keith managed to fall in on the way back. How can we doubt that the earth is programmed against us, argued Young Keith, if an innocent stroll home 

I pointed out to him that sober people, walking along the road, don't end up in all those beds of nasty plants. But he said what about earthquakes, eh? He could have been walking soberly up School Lane and an earthquake could have opened up the ground beneath him. To which the response is, obviously, that the Husborne Crawley geology doesn't really allow of such excitement - although if he were wandering round Woburn Sands I guess he could have fallen into an old Fuller's Earth pit - but I take his point.

So what's to say? Do I believe that the symbolic misbehaviour of a mythical pair of ancestors and a performing snake have caused the development of nettles? Well, let's think... 

I'd reel it back to Genesis 1, which is mythical and symbolic beyond belief, and see what it tries to tell me.

Light, sky, sea, land, plants, sun, moon, stars, animals, vegetables, minerals and us - all on a sliding scale from "good" to "very good". God pleased with everything God made.

And I don't see that's all suddenly overridden by Genesis 3. The earth may be producing thistles and thorns, but they're still made of that same good stuff. The world's still blessed, and the stuff it's made of is still God-blessed. And the life of the humans is still God-breathed. And the world we live in may be scary, and random - but it's not twisted. The laws that mean a bird soars in the air, are the same laws that make a tornado scary. The properties of carbon that make the flowers of a rose are equally predictable in producing the thorns on the same plant. The gravity that holds me onto the sandstone of Husborne Crawley is the same force that sucks a gas cloud into a black hole.

Which I reckon still makes it good. We can apply reason to it, it's consistent. You know where you are. You may get into trouble occasionally - because thorns are still prickly, even if you know how they work - but it's not totally random. It's good enough to have God's beauty scattered across it - in colours, in shapes and forms, in the wonders of physical laws - in everything around us. It's good enough that, when it got lost, Jesus came to find it.

Beautiful nature with a sting in the tail
It seems to me that some of the stuff we see as bad is kind of built into the logic of this world.  If it weren't for the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics driving us forward, we wouldn't all die - but then we wouldn't be born, either. If we're going to be made of carbon and oxygen, then a star had to die. Maybe, as part of that package deal, if God wanted to have little people to relate to - then God had to create a dimensional, physical universe for them to be distinguishable in - the necessary space for the Pauli Principle of personality. And maybe, if the pay-off for that kind of universe is death and pain, and the pay-off for the space to be individual is the space to be isolated - then maybe that's why God decided to join in.

And if Young Keith wants to walk back from the pub without getting a thistle sticking into him, maybe he should wear leather trousers.

1 comment :

  1. Reason and faith in one splendid post. Thanks, Eileen.


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