Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The universe seems neither benign
nor hostile, merely indifferent.
Carl Sagan, scientist, philosopher;
he was born on this date, 1934
I loved Carl Sagan. He was such a charming man. And I could listen to him for hours talk brilliantly and clearly about the wonder of the Universe, its beauty, its Mystery. Everything he said made sense to me.
Many people of faith have such an annoying habit of anthropomorphizing the Universe. Worse, of transferring to the Universe the anthropomorphized “personality” of “God”. And even worse, of blaming the Universe – or God – for the sufferings we human beings undergo as mortal creatures living on a still-growing and developing planet. But, I agree with Dr. Sagan. The Universe is morally, ethically neutral. The Universe just IS. It is neither “for” us or “against” us.
And I would venture to say that “God” is morally and ethically neutral as well. The moral and ethical policeperson is a trait that we human beings have foisted upon this Devine Being, Whom we have created in the various images of our own fears, needs, and yes hopes. Some of the ethical images we have foisted upon God I agree with, mythically speaking; and many I do not.
But, since I accept that it is a perfectly understandable thing, given the amazing capacity of the human mind and spirit, to endow God with ethical characteristics, I accept that God is primarily defined as Loving, Compassionate , Just, Merciful, and determined to demand that we humans be so too. What defines God defines us. We and God are One, insofar as I understand Christian mystical theology.
The Universe is not against us. What we have to struggle with, especially the things that cause is suffering and pain and anxiety, just are. What is critical for our Life and our happiness is what we do with the deck we are dealt, both individually and, perhaps more importantly, together.
But let’s not forget the wonder and joy. It isn’t all bad by any means. Ponder the old Inuit song:
I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, all those vital things I had to get and to reach, and yet there is only one great thing: to live and see the great day that dawns, and the light that fills the world.