“Truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep the truth and let God go.” Meister Eckhart
This quote came into my mind recently as I was slugging it out with a fire and brimstone agent on one of Jamey Rodemeyer’s videos. He came up with the suggestion that God had originally intended man to live forever and that throughout the OT the lifespans grow progressively shorter as a result of sin. I put it to him that, as fossil records show that Neanderthal man’s average lifespan was estimated to be less than 40 years, that would seem highly unlikely. I then asked what evidence he had to assert this as being historical fact. Could he point me to a skeleton of a 400 year old primitive man as proof of what the Bible claimed, for example? Of course he couldn’t. Indeed, beyond suggesting I go and dig up the Sinai desert to search for myself, he merely asserted that he trusted the bible through faith.
Now this raises a number of serious questions. If the God of the Bible is to be taken as being the transcendental being involved and engaged with the world around us then how can there not be fossil records to prove what is declared his “word” true? If there is no discernable relationship between the God of the bible and the God of reality, then how reliable an account of the world is it? Might it not just simply be dismissed as a collection of folk tales (rather like the Icelandic sagas)?
Furthermore, is it really a part of a holy calling to hide away from the objective scientific facts of the world? To the point of near insanity even?
My understanding of the Eckhart quote is that he is saying that God and the truth are closely bound together which, to my mind anyway, is a given fact.The question of them moving apart, therefore, would be down to some “heretical” reading presumably, which would bifurcate the two and cause them to split.
It is, of course, a major bugbear of the atheist fraternity that faith is in irreconcilable conflict with science and, given the examples of the kind of people I have had to deal with these past few months, it is easy to see how and why this idea has come about. But this is based on a faulty reading and understanding of the nature of the spiritual quest, which, as Eckhart makes clear above, is as much about finding truth (or “ultimate reality” as Buddhism teaches) than simply retreating into a world of demons and spirits.
I recently read the autobiography of David Jenkins, the former Bishop of Durham in the UK and he spoke of there being two kinds of faith. One is that of finding comfort and security in well worn paths, the other is setting out into unknown thickets with the light of faith to guide you. The prevalence of the former in the church has led it to turn in on itself, become more concerned with flower arrangement rotas, than with the outside world and, as such, it has lost its significance and relevance to the world around. Whereas the latter seems to have been the driving engine behind the scientific progress of previous centuries with people like Newton setting out on uncharted journeys with their faith as a guide. This latter knows no fear because it rests in the arms of God and is thus able to contribute important insights into the world around it.
It seems if we are going to avoid the slide into pure market dictated materialism where mankind is simply seen as a worthless, though useful, economy supporting robot, a bundle of rogue DNA that can be used and exploited without ethical qualms then we need to get back into the swing of things and provide genuine alternatives.
To be quite honest though I think we are already too late to make a difference:
Last night I had a message from the “Pawsupforever” project (see elsewhere on here) in my Facebook news feed saying that a young lesbian teen was being bullied and was on the point of killing herself. I clicked on the respective link and saw that her profile was then being literally flooded with love, messages of support and Lady Gaga lyrics from people involved in the project. It was just so beautiful, it bought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. It is the kind of thing you would expect of Christians and other faith sharers but, no, it was the free outpouring of love of a community united by a common love for a pop star. Inspired by the memory of somebody the religious people I have been taking on had consigned to hell and bullied into the grave on account of his being a “sodomite”.
It seems Sir Michael Tippett was right when he wrote in his Third Symphony:
“It is our agony,
We fractured men,
Survey a greater mercy
Than any god has shown.”
It is perhaps a further irony that Lady Gaga appears to be regarded as a little less than Satan in terms of pure evil in some circles. Though I am not a fan of her music as such (though I make an exception for Rodemeyer’s cover of “Born This Way” which sounds like a blues and is both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time), I have to say that when it comes to “fruits by which you will be known”, she has all the sweet ones in her basket at the moment.