God, Jesus, and Inalienable Rights
Personal religious beliefs are a touchy subject for many people, but the fact remains that our country was founded on a belief that embraces the ideal that “man is endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights.” This fact is reflected in the Declaration of Independence, on many of our monuments, on our money, in our National Anthem and in other historic American music.
The Ten Commandments, while not the only source by any means, did help form the basis for our system of justice, and until recent years, could be found on the walls of many courthouses throughout this country. They are still found, along with a depiction of Moses and many other other important lawgivers, as part of the symbolic architecture of the U.S. Supreme Court building.
Perhaps ten to fifteen percent of the people living in this country are uncomfortable with this fact, many try to deny it, and still others actively seek to have any reference to God erased from American culture. In my opinion, this movement by left-wing progressive liberals is simply an attempt at tyranny by the minority … because eighty-five to ninety percent of Americans claim some level of Christian religious practice in the lives. In a true democratic republic … 85% would beat 15% hands down any day of the week.
The fact is that, by definition, without a God, there can be no “inalienable rights.” This, in essence, would mean that our “right” to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are merely granted to us by whatever regime happens to be in charge at the time … and therefore … could be revoked at any time by whatever regime happens to be in charge later.
Some political actors and citizens living in this country would actually like to see this happen and are working toward that goal. Not all American citizens are happy with our “American experiment” and long for a return to the Aristocratic lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthy in Europe … at the expense of the rest of us … the peasantry.
Now, I am not a Bible thumping Christian. I believe there is much, much more to the Christian story than that which can be found in the Bible alone. The Bible is certainly an important piece of the Christian puzzle. It is certainly a guidebook for Christian moral values; and it is also certainly a good history of the development of Christianity and Christian thought.
However … though the Bible is certainly a book written by men who were truly inspired by their firm belief in God and who felt awe for his wondrous creation, it was not written by God himself. And … whether you accept the doctrine of “Original Sin” or not, we all know that man has his flaws and is certainly not infallible. Therefore, I have a very real problem with the idea of a literal interpretation of the Bible.
I do however have, and have always had, a firm and unshakable belief in God, and with it, a firm and unshakable belief in our God-given inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I also believe that living one’s life according to the teachings of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is the true path to follow.
That being said, I do not find anywhere in Christ’s teachings, the many prohibitions, and guilt trips that organized Churches and their leaders like to inflict upon their faithful parishioners. In fact, the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, and the many parables told by Jesus as passed on to us through his disciples, can all be distilled down to one central core idea … the golden rule:
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also unto them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Today, many modernists like to argue that Jesus was not the Son of God, but that he was simply a great moral teacher. They just cannot except his claim to be the Son of God.
However, if Jesus was not the Son of God, and was simply a man … and then, as a man, said the sort of things He did say, Jesus would not be considered a great moral teacher. He would be considered either a lunatic (on the same level with a man who says he is an eggplant) or an evil, plotting liar.
We, as human beings, simply have to make a choice! Either Jesus was and is the Son of God … or Jesus was a madman … or something worse. You could simply dismiss Jesus outright as a liar and a fool … or you could dismiss Jesus as an evil, plotting liar… or you can accept Him as the Lord God. But to consider him nothing more than a great moral teacher is simply patronizing nonsense. Jesus, by his words and actions, did not leave that choice open to us!
Creationism v. Evolution
Recent events in the scientific community have proved, at least to me, that one of my deeply held core beliefs is true. That core belief holds that science and religion do not disagree … unless, of course, you happen to adhere blindly to the extreme of either side of the science (science requires atheism) v. religion (literal interpretation of the Bible) argument and choose to ignore the evidence.
Here, in a nutshell, are the two extremes of the argument:
On the one side, we have prominent evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, who holds the point of view that evolution requires atheism. He claims “Faith is the great copout, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.” He argues that faith is the belief in spite of the evidence, or perhaps, because of the lack of evidence. Dawkins states that faith, being a belief that isn’t based on any true evidence, is the principal vice of any religion.”
On the other side of the argument, we have Christian fundamentalists who attack science as deceitful or even dangerous, and point to a literal interpretation of the Bible as the only reliable means of discerning scientific truth. The late Henry Morris, a leader in the creationist movement is a prime example, claiming, “Evolutions lie permeates and dominates modern thought in every field. That being the case, it follows inevitably that evolutionary thought is basically responsible for the lethally ominous political developments, and the chaotic moral and social disintegrations that have been accelerating everywhere.” For Henry Morris, when science and the Bible disagree, science has obviously misinterpreted its data.”
However, for me, the belief in God has always been an entirely rational choice, and, despite the best efforts at dissuasion by many of my friends and acquaintances, I have always felt that the principles of faith are, in fact, entirely complimentary with the principles of science. St. Thomas Aquinas tried to make this argument many years ago, some argue he succeeded and some argue that he failed … but in Thomas Aquinas’s defense, he did not have the powerful tools of modern science at his disposal.
The Human Genome: An Instruction Manual Written By The Hand Of God
In June of 2000, President Clinton made a speech in which he said, “Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind. …Today, we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift.”
The Human Genome is made up of all the DNA of our species; it is the “hereditary code of life.” This recently discovered text is a mere 3 billion letters long and written in a bizarre and cryptographic four-letter code. This code is so amazingly complex that, if we attempted an out-loud reading of this code at a rate of one letter per second, it would take thirty-one years, reading day and night, to complete it. If we were to print this code out in a regular sized font on a normal bond paper and then bind them all together, it would result in a tower of paper as tall as the Washington Monument.
As Dr. Francis S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, stated, it was a humbling and awe-inspiring experience, when he realized he was looking at the instruction manual on how to build a human being, a manual previously known only to God.
I ask you … who else could have written this book? Do you honestly believe that something so complex and so precise … evolved by accident? The odds of that are so fantastically remote that they defy any kind of scientific credibility.
This is a text that could, at least in my opinion, be on one level even more profound than the Bible … it is truly a “sacred text” that was actually written by the hand of God himself!
By the way, Francis S. Collins is no longer an atheist.
This Human Genome revelation also brings into question many of man’s previously held beliefs and should also bring to a screeching halt several of man’s heated debates:
Here are a few examples:
First, it provides powerful support for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. How can I say that you might ask? Creation and Evolution are opposing theories … aren’t they? Not any more! Unless, of course, you choose to cling to a literal interpretation of the Bible (a text inspired by God) and ignore the Human Genome (a text written by God).
Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory basically states that man evolved from a common ancestor with natural selection operating on randomly occurring variations. Using the human genome as a whole, a computer can now construct a tree of life based solely upon the similarity of the DNA sequences of multiple organisms. And … it can do this without the fossil record, carbon dating, anatomical observations, or finding the “missing link.”
Evolution, Intelligent Design, Creationism; these are man’s terms … they are name given to man’s attempts to explain his own creation and, in truth, have no consequence to a God who exists outside of time, and who by definition, can not exist inside the very universe He created. God, in his creation of life, could have used any of these theories, a combination of these theories, or none of these theories … as they are defined by man. He is, after all, God.
The unlocking the human genome also proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that at the DNA level, all mankind are genetically the same … we really are one race … descendant from one common source … a scientifically provable Adam and Eve.
Wow! That kind of knocks a really big hole in the arguments made by racial purists … doesn’t it. In fact, it blasts those misguided, often hate-based ideas into smithereens.
Listening to the current battle raging between theologians and scientists, an astute observer could easily ask, “Haven’t we heard this same song before?” These conflicts between man’s interpretation of scripture and man’s scientific observations are nothing new … just the same old song and dance, my friends.
Remember Galileo? Galileo was a brilliant scientist and mathematician born in Italy in 1564. He is the one who first told us that the earth actually revolves around the sun. Which … in the 1500-1600’s, was a terrible blasphemy condemned by the Church.
A Dominican Friar, Caccini, stated that geometry is an instrument of the devil and mathematicians should all be banished as authors of heresies.
After all, doesn’t Psalm 93:1 say that “The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved,” and Psalm 104:5 also states that “He set the earth on its foundation; it can never be moved.” Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.”
Tell me … is the problem really with God’s wondrous creation, or could it simply be that man’s inspired descriptions of it … fall a little short?
Copernicus wrote “To know the mighty works of God; to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful workings of his laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge.”
That, my friends, is the job of science …
God Is Very Much Alive
Contrary to the pronouncement by Friedrich Nietzsche, God is certainly not dead!
I have known that for a long, long time. Every time I stand on some Smoky Mountain peak at sunrise, or paddle my canoe slowly up some wild and pristine Adirondack stream, or gaze up at night at the star-filled heavens, … and my eyes and ears take in the awesome beauty of his creation and I can feel God’s presence in my soul.
And now … thanks to science and the Human Genome Project, we have the scientific proof that can be seen with our own two eyes. The human genome is the secret to one of God’s greatest miracle … how to create a man!
The War Between Science And Religion
A scientist, Albert Einstein, saw the poverty of a purely scientific world view. Einstein wrote, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
The Bible, in Proverbs 19:2 warns us against having a well-intentioned but misinformed religious fervor saying, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.”
I think it is about time to put this silly, escalating war between religion and science to rest. It has never really been necessary at all. This war has been initiated, perpetuated, and intensified by extremists on both sides, who, like Chicken Little, like to run around screaming a warning of imminent ruin and destruction … if the other side is not quickly vanquished.
Science is not threatened by God … science is simply man’s attempt to understand God’s creation. Science by its nature is self-correcting. Bad science does not stand long before honest scrutiny. And God is certainly not threatened by science … after all, God made it all possible. The more we learn about our Universe … the more awesome it becomes … the more we become truly aware of God’s hand in its creation.
Sincere seekers of the truth embrace both science and religion … both call to them equally. It is time to abandon the same old tired war between science and religion … and to answer that call. The future of our world depends on it.
I am reminded of a joke about a group of scientists who struggle to uncover the secrets of the universe. They strive hard … advancing up that steep mountain … step by painstaking step … sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing … often having to begin again … and … finally … finally … reaching the mountain top! And … what do they find when they get there? A group of priests who ask, “What took you so long?”