July 24, 2017
Which Way Is Up?
In the spring of the year, the gray-brown soil of my garden was blackened by rain, bringing into sharp relief the rows of vegetables thrusting up from the seeds I had planted. Whether a robust bean or diminutive carrot seed, they know which way is up. No doubt there are multitudes of learned persons who could explain this small miracle to me. Perhaps, if their explanations were not offered in the Language of Obfuscation, I might believe every one of them.
When I was a boy of almost 12, I believed in miracles. One obvious miracle in those dry as dust days of the Great Depression was that I had been able to prevail upon my parents to give me a dime once a week to take to the local drug store to exchange for an issue of the Toronto Star Weekly. My doting parents thought my interest was in the funny papers, but except for the ladies’ fashion section, I perused every page, even those with hard words I couldn’t chew.
I was then a little Christian, weaned on stories of Jesus and progressively stuffed with verses from the Old and New Testaments. I was also ruled by clocks and dimensions. All of this early learning vanished like pure, cold water from a punctured barrel when I read an article about the expanding universe. There were no firm dimensions; time and space had neither beginning nor end. My heritage of religious faith was gone because the Creation story was a lie. Earth was one planet in a multitude of planets, which, theoretically, could sustain life. I was an insignificant little boy in an insignificant place on an insignificant planet. I was entering a dark and dangerous place where there were no adult rescuers. Adults could never have fathomed why and how my sense of worthlessness was growing.
Then, late on a sleepless night, I saved myself. (Or perhaps the God of Christians did it.) I realized that wisdom and virtue required that I needed to know there were some things I didn’t need to know. I became a little Christian again.
Now, I am an insignificant old man who gives support to a Christian congregation but is not a biblical literalist. I know the old Testament is a series of selections from oral history that were certified as true and holy by a committee of race-praising Jewish scholars. I know where their work is contradicted by archaeological research and other credible historic records. I find the wise words that feed my intellect in the New Testament. If ever I need the help of a competent psychiatrist (Perhaps I do now), I turn to the words of Jesus of Nazareth.
As there are things which human beings have no need to know, there are other things we should know. We should know that greed, a thirst for power, the brutal murders of the innocent and the destruction of what our ancestors have built have too often been cloaked by what are ostensibly conflicts between and within religions.
The United States of America is still the bastion of fundamentalist Christianity. I mean no disrespect to sincere believers when I say that being prayerful persons improves the electability of members of Congress and presidential hopefuls. I am, however, still convinced that unholy deeds take place behind a mantles of holiness.
In the United States the battle between the truth of evolution and so-called Creation Science continues. The Book of Genesis claims human life began in the Garden of Eden. Scientists say living creatures are end products of a broth of chemicals present in matter. I wonder why there was original matter and where it came from. I wonder why there isn’t just nothing. But I don’t need to know.
Copyright ©William Wardill 2017