I love my local newspaper, the Mobile Press-Register. There’s a section of the paper that changes each day, one day it’s the Senior Living section, the next it might be Neighbors section. On Saturdays it becomes the Religion section (because we need to justify the salary of our local Religion editor) and on Sundays, it’s the Insight section. On every day other than Sunday, the editorials and letters to the editor are found toward the back of Section A – the front page section. Today, we find this beauty in the letters:
God’s time is infinite
It has been said that science is man’s effort to understand how God runs his business.
God is infinite. He always has been and always will be. Our finite minds find it difficult thinking of God as timeless. To understand God and his religious ways requires faith.
According to creation, God created all things in stages (and the evening “and the morning were the first day,” according to Genesis 1:5).
We are so used to thinking of days as being 24 hours of time. But go back and read the creation account again. We know the Earth’s rotation gives us 24-hour days. Yet, the sun and moon were not placed there until the fourth day.
This truth tells us that the first three days could have been millions of years of time. Remember, God is timeless. He has no beginning or ending. Our limited minds try to compact six days of creation into six 24-hour days.
Think about this, theologians, preachers and Bible teachers. Let us admit we were misled. According to this truth, scientists are justified in expressing time in terms of millions.
So, once again we find some yokel trying to resolve the whole Science/Religion dilemma. In this case, W.S. takes the tack of arguing that, since God is infinite, we cannot know how He measures time, so the dilemma is solved by quibbling over the meaning of a day. According to W.S., we cannot take the meaning of the word “day” in the Book of Genesis to literally mean what we know as an “Earth day”. One might hear some nerdy SciFi fans rejoice, as the word “hour” is not what we know as an “Earth hour” either.
So, W.S., if we cannot accept the creation story in the Book of Genesis literally, then what other portions of the bible must also be seen as metaphor or allegory rather than literal truth? Upon what criteria do you sift the literal from the metaphorical?
Ah, there’s the rub.
There are two grand pillars of blind faith. The first pillar is an unwavering belief in holy writ. The second is trust. As in, believers trust that someone will tell them what is literally true and what is metaphor, especially when that first pillar begins to crumble. That someone is usually a person that claims to be closer to God than the rest of the congregation. You know, someone with a vested interest in having their interpretation of convoluted biblical minutiae accepted as the real truth. A truthier truth than that proposed by religious rivals from within and without who claim the same position of privileged understanding of God and his or her mysterious ways. A better, stronger truth than that supported by direct observation and measurement of physical evidence. A more comforting truth than those derived from the laws of physics, or mathematical proof, or prior history, or predicted by sound theory building, or by rational and critical thought.
This second pillar, the appeal to some human authority, is what I believe exposes all religions for the frauds they are. Beneath the sweet facade of piety we find a dirty mechanism designed for social control. Lord Acton famously said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” What then of those to whom countless millions have freely given the power of their absolute trust? What then of those millions who stumble around as if drunk in a world darkened by a rejection of what their own better senses tell them, all the while believing they are God’s special little angels?
What then? Well, they’re running the show now, aren’t they?
John Adams also has a famous saying concerning power: “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” If you look at our short US history, you’ll see that we’ve endured our share debacles that arose from misplaced public trust. The most glaring examples in recent memory run the gamut from McCarthyism, past Eisenhower’s warning about the dangers of the military industrial complex and the ensuing Vietnam war, over the tarnishing of the presidency by both Nixon and Clinton, to the current era of warrantless wiretaps, secret government prisons, a blizzard of presidential signing statements, and a perpetual state of war against “evildoers”. During the whole time, American faith has not wavered one iota. During that time, many of our religious leaders have said, “Trust us” and we have forked over billions, because as a people, we tend to believe and trust in the invisible. In recent years, government has curried favor from religious extremists, granting greater power in exchange for the votes of their faithful, trusting congregations. As with other manipulative political strategies, this cozying up to the religious right works: power is maintained. The price of that power, however, may be more than we can pay while retaining the integrity of our federal constitutional republic.
So there we are: we start with a proposal to mend the rift between science and religion by appealing to the supernatural time-perception of an arguably infinitely invisible imaginary being. What we end up with is the same – an America balancing on the razor thin edge between a rational secular democracy and a powerfully dangerous and irrational theocracy. Don’t be fooled my friends. There are some very bad and dangerous people around. Unfortunately, many of them smile like Ted Haggard, and are in positions of power that they wish to keep. And they will, with our help, and unwavering trust.