Posts Tagged ‘creation’

As I grow older, it occurs to me that I have been a drain on the world. I have consumed its resources. The food I have eaten might have been available to others who hunger had I not be around to consume them. The way I spent the money I had might have gone to some other purpose or possibly not have been needed at all because I did not need to be a consumer of things. I never worried about that before, but now in my waning years, I think about it. Was I a Sink or a Source.

A Sink is something that consumes. A Source is something that creates. At least that is the way I mean to use these words. By living, we are all sinks of a sort. The question is whether or not we are any sort of source. More specifically, what is our net value; Sink or Source.

As I grow older, I think more about this. I think in the past, I was mainly a sink. If that is how I am to be in the future, it might be better that I not be at all. I think I need, even as my years move toward that ultimate end, I think I need to be more of a source. I need to be more conscious of my net worth. I don’t mean my net worth in money, but my net worth to the world in which I live.

I guess I should not be surprised that aspiring to positive net worth, to being a better source than sink is energizing, inspiring. There is a lot of work to be done.

What Does God Want?

In the Christian tradition in which I was raised, there is frequent reference to God’s will. What does God want for the human race? Throughout the Hebrew and Christian scriptural cannon, we read of prophets who proclaimed God’s dissatisfaction with ‘His’ people who strayed from his covenant, his will for them. Today, we approach what the world should be by reference to God’s commandments and his revealed will. Unfortunately, we speak to a world what does not share our view of God, much less place value in “God’s Will” for us.

It is instructive to consider what Gods Will is in areas that this question is not usually asked. For example, what is God’s Will with regard to the population of the world? Is God happy at our world population approaching 9 billion? Is God sad that we have allowed uncontrolled growth of human kind? Or, is God pleased to see so many people made in his image? Is the more the merrier in this regard? If 9 billion is good, is 50 billion better? Maybe God is not pleased to see human kind expand to the point that many suffer from lack of basic needs?

What is God’s Will with regard to space exploration? Does God want the human race to be limited to the earth or would God prefer we travel to the far reaches of the universe, mastering other planets, mining the asteroids, plundering other living species so that God’s people can expand and master the whole of the reachable universe? Is this God’s solution to a growing population, an accepted need for continual growth? Or, since God accepts the death of individual humans, is God equally OK with the death of the human race, seeing it as just a natural outcome of birth, and life, something we see in all of God’s nature?

What is God’s will with regard to eggs? Is it acceptable to God that as humans we eat the eggs of other species, preventing them from being fertilized, preventing them from becoming new life? Is it God’s Will that all eggs created by nature be fertilized and give rise to a new birth, human or non-human alike? Does God prefer that all human families birth as many children as a woman has eggs or a man has sperm? Does God judge celibacy as fundamentally sinful, denying the opportunity for a human being with a soul from existing? Does God see this as equivalent to murder?

What is God’s Will with regard to medical technology? Was God more pleased when we allowed natural death to occur or is God more pleased to see us extend life as far as possible using enormous resources to extend life a few days, months or years, even when that life lacks quality and even if it results in great poverty for others and at great cost to society as a whole? What does God think about mammograms, CT machines, MRI machines, acupuncture, miracle medicines that make some people rich and others poor?

The point of these questions for me is this. To base our decisions on what we perceive to be God’s Will does not solve the fundamental problems we collectively share in the world today. In the past, when there was so much of nature that remained a mystery, it was useful to have a concept of God’s Will to guide us. Yet, fundamentally, what historically was called God’s Will was in fact a collection of understandings of what it meant to live in relationship with other people, what served the common good, how to live out a life with harmony, love, wholesome pleasure. And, I suggest this is precisely how we should be approaching the problems and issues of the day. It seems archaic to base the “should be’s” on the external reference to a God which is becoming more and more distant to more and more of the people alive today.

The best reasons for what is right and what is wrong is how it impacts the common good, maintains or builds equity and fairness, avoids unnecessary suffering, relies on what can best be demonstrated to be true. If there is a God, it is surely God’s desire for a sustainable future, one beyond our own limited existence, a sacrificial living for the good of all and of those not yet alive. And this is complex enough that we don’t need to draw on our inadequate understanding of the “God’s Will.”

Cecil Denney

Please read the first part of this two part blog.  Star Dust

First a couple of facts (as opposed to beliefs).  No one can prove there is a GOD.  It is also true that no one can prove there is NOT a GOD.  Yes, I know there are those who claim to have “experienced” the presence of what they BELIEVE (with all their hearts) was God.  They can cite the difference in their lives as evidence of the experience, but they can’t give you the experience they had.  Unfortunately, we are all isolated creatures, capable of communication, but that communication, at its very best, can only communicate an approximate facsimile of the experience, not proof.  Enough of that, my position should be clear.

Yet, I have the experience of God every day. When I think about the implication of being star dust (see Star Dust blog) I see there is some underlying force of nature that allows, indeed fosters the creation of elements that in all their richness have the capacity to form into organized structures.  Obviously they organize into stars.  We have learned that exploding stars broadcast higher level elements.  We have learned that these tend to “gravitate” toward each other and under the influence of greater and greater collections, form planets.  We have come to understand that if these planets are just the right distance from the galaxy center and just the right distance from a supporting star, and rotate just the right amount, they are capable of collecting liquid water.  When there is liquid water, we have learned elements can collect in the presence of solar and planet heat, form collections capable of replicating themselves with the ultimate outcome of becoming what we call living systems, interdependent on the environment that supported their development.

I call this a Life Force, a fundamental structure, created in the big bang which has resulted in living systems that can exchange information, learn, grow, and come to understand, at least at some primitive level, the very system that created them.  So, to me, I see this Life Force as the embodiment of what people call God.  I have found, in my own spiritual practices with people in a liberal protestant setting, that I can share in worship understanding what some people see as an external reality they call their God by mentally substituting my understanding of this grand, magnificent Life Force.  As I pray, I understand that I seek to complement, not work against this Life Force.  I feel morally responsible to sustain the capabilities of this planet.  I celebrate the scientific discoveries that inform our understanding of our place in the universe all the way down to my own family dynamics.  When I see a beautiful sunset or peaceful lake, or snow on the tree branches, I can celebrate the fact that I have been given the chance to experience this Life Force personally.

And I also can feel anger and even rage when I see actions that through ignorance or selfishness lead to thwarting this Life Force in the here and now.  I get frustrated when people ignore this Life Force and seek their own personal pleasure and gain at the expense of others.  In other words, my moral capacity is not diminished by this understanding and the fact that this Life Force has a cycle that will one day deny my ability to participate.  It is the kingdom of god here and now that we are all given by this undeserved gift of life.  How will be respond?  Will we resist or conspire to support the Life Force for all of life’s creation and creatures?

Star Dust

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Philosophy, Science
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Life as star dust

We are all star dust.  If you accept our current scientific understanding about the origin of the universe, then you accept the concept of the Big Bang, that event that took place some 13 plus billion years ago in an enormous creative explosion that began the universe.  During the approximately first 9 billion years, during the great expansion of the universe, some of the matter that was created began to coalesce into stars that burned and whose gravity attracted more matter and more matter so that in some cases, these stars became so big they exploded in great super nova propelling throughout their region of space not just hydrogen and helium, but heavier metals like carbon, nitrogen, iron,  and all the other elements.  As these were constrained by gravity, they too began to coalesce into asteroids and planets and be captured by other stars.  In some cases, as stars coalesced together, they became great “attractors” of other stars whose vectors placed them in great spiral orbits about a central point which became a black hole that did not explode.

The energy that made all this possible in addition to the creative process itself was based on fusion within the stars that created cosmic radiation.  Too close to the central black hole and the radiation was very powerful.  All stars and their planets were bathed with this intense radiation.  Further out, planets that orbited stars were not bombarded by this heavy radiation from the center of the galaxy, but they might be from the star or double star they orbited.  But, if they were the right distance from their star and the galaxy center, the radiation was acceptable and the planet was warmed so that hydrogen and oxygen could combine into a liquid form, water.

In this just right place, the earth was formed about 4 billion years ago.  As it cooled and the oceans formed, another mysterious event took place.  Some of the chemical elements formed together and over time, they acquired a structure that supported a replication of the structure.  Eventually, these replicating chemical structures took on a form we call “life” and eventually “human life” as we understand it today.

This is the chain as we understand it today from the birth of the universe to the evolution of life as we know it on this particular collection of star dust floating just the right distance from a star we call our sun which is just at the right distance from the galaxy center.

So here we are, particles of star dust originally particles from the big bang, products of the creative forces that began with the Big Bang.  From dust we came and back to dust we will go.

So where is “God” in all this?  Next I will address how I have come to understand what that means to me.

Rise of the Machine Age

Posted: February 12, 2012 in Philosophy, psychology
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You can write this off to my enjoyment of science fiction if you like.  The predictive ability of future prognosticators is notoriously poor so you can ignore me on that basis if you like.  But, I think the facts about the direction of our world situation make this scenario plausible if not exactly on target.  They are:
1) There is an ever increasing demand for oil which is a depletable resource.  Known resources are limited.
2)  The population of the world continues to increase and there is a limit to its growth.  The resources of the earth are not infinite.  The larger the population, the faster resources are depleted.
3)  Most people don’t care about what will happen in a 100 years.  Most of us only care what will happen in our lifetime.  This makes the first two facts of little concern to most people.
4) Human caused or natural, the warming of the planet several degrees will not allow humans to sustain their current rate of growth.
5) Information technology, materials engineering, and robotic technology are advancing at an enormous rate.
6) The economic systems and human systems addicted to the concept of growth is unlikely to change without external pressure to do so.  The pressure could come too late to save the human race or at least most of it.

We like to view the human as the pinnacle of evolutionary achievement or the favored creation of God.  It is hard to reconcile this with the statements above.  Is there anything in the works that might save this evolutionary progress?  Possibly.

We are honing in on artificial intelligence.  We are beginning to understand aspects of consciousness.  We are beginning to create machines that can repair other machines.  We are about to harness a world wide network of intelligence that can be tapped electronically.  Machines are not as sensitive to changes in the environment.  If they acquire intelligence, consciousness, they just may be more rational than humans.  So, when the human race dies out, it will be our creation that takes on the next evolutionary step of the universe.  Who knows, machines which can currently read DNA and store it electronically may in fact create a digital replica to integrate with their design.
Now you think I am crazy?  Well only if you have not engaged in thinking that evolution may not yet be finished.  Only if you just assumed humans were as good as it can get.  Only if you don’t want to think about the sad state of affairs we are making, fouling our own nest, the world.  You may think I am being pessimistic about the future.  In fact, it seems to me I am being optimistic thinking that there just might be something in the future that will be better, fairer, more just, smarter, and concerned about consequences than the current model of human.  If an intelligent robot could be repaired indefinitely, its longer view time horizon might make it much more serious about treating the world better.  And, as a machine, it would be in much better condition to explore other worlds. We won’t be around to see if any of this makes sense, but we still have hope the ingenuity of the human species won’t be wasted in a grand global melt down.

 For an excellent video to see why I hold these beliefs, go to

Is There A God?

Posted: February 2, 2012 in Philosophy, Religion, Science
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This is slightly different than the question “Does God Exist?”  Partially it is different because there are many different concepts of God and you would have to be clear what your definition of God was in order to know about “existence.”  Furthermore, your definition is going to be inadequate if your God is supernatural, that is above the laws as understood today by humankind.  That is because your definition is limited to your ability to craft words that try to define something that is beyond words.  So while “existence” is hard to answer,  the answer to the question I have proposed, “Is their a God?” is easily answered.  Yes, many. In my first blog, I talked about “knowledge” and the fact that I don’t “KNOW” but the one fact that I don’t KNOW anything else.  Given that, I highly suspect no one else “knows” anything either.  It is all a matter of guesses and opinions formed out of our experiences, including scientific experimental conclusions.  Never-the-less, I will share my opinions.

“Entropy is the tendency (or force if you will) to decrease the organization or complexity of systems. Anti-entropy is the opposite tendency which is to increase the organization of systems.”  Essentially, scientist believe the universe is “running down”; all the stars will burn out and things will approach absolute zero.  Obviously, not for a long long time, but that is entropy at work.  Yet, there is lots of anti-entropic activity going on as well.  It is hard to imagine, but from the beginning so called Big Bang, totally inert atomic particles organized themselves into elements and elements into structures that have the characteristic we call “life.”

So, the mental model I have of god is this “life force”, played out over billions of years resulting in the amazing organism (human being) that is capable of contemplating not only itself but also the forces which created it.  Somewhere I heard it said that “Humans are the universe trying to understand itself.”  It is a creative force somehow built into the laws that control the universe.  It is not clear to me that it has a purpose in the cause-effect sense, but from an evolutionary sense, it clearly moves, somewhat haltingly, toward greater and greater anti-entropic forms.

Each person has some kind of model of reality that includes elements of awe and worship, not always healthy, but present.  And as our models of reality are subject to change, so is our model of our god.  If revelation is taking place, it is the creative nature of this life force that continues to reveal itself through continual creation itself.  No one knows what the future may bring.  Who or what is your god like?