Thursday, July 05, 2012

Theology Thursday #13: Bang!

Every once in a while when I get doubtful about the point of spirituality or religion I happen to see something like this in an article or Facebook post:
"As far as I see it there are only two basic laws of physics: 1) Nothing comes from nothing, and 2) Something had to. Before there was any mass, energy, time or space, there was no NO-THING. The moment before the moment there was no moment. (Figure that one out). In our limited human intelligence, that means there was a singularity that stands OUTSIDE mass, energy, time and space that put it all in motion. The beginning of science (the big bang) is also the end of science, because science can go no further than the moment before the moment. Without anything to measure, there is no science. 
When David Letterman interviewed a string theorist a few years back and he told him there was no mass, energy, time or space, David responded, "Then what, for the love of God, banged?" 

I believe the love of God banged."
The previous quote is from my Facebook friend Rich Melheim, creator of Faith Inkubators, a creative confirmation curricula I once purchased when I was a pastor. I like the quote above, because when I get in an intellectual mood and I'm bored, I get mean and cynical about the church. Going back to the very moment of creation, I find that yes, there is the unknown and there was - at one time - nothing. Creatio ex Nihilo, or creation "from nothing" is an ancient tenet of the Christian church and one worth keeping since it jibes quite well with our current understanding of physics.

Out a nuttin'...
I have a friend (a very, very good friend who has a great blog, by the way, here) who has encouraged me to sever all my ties with the church. I think he delights that I'm not a pastor anymore (even more than I do). His upbringing was fraught with what I would label as spiritual abuse. He sees the Church (capital 'C' intentional) as an agent for mostly negative influences on our society. Whatever non-negative influence the Church currently has, I think he would designate as simply irrelevant or wishful thinking. More often than not, I think I agree with him. History makes a fairly convincing argument, which isn't exactly a raving review of religion. Science clearly places much of believers views as childish and unscientific. And looking at the current state of liberal, ecumenical, so-called "Mainstream" Christianity, one wonders how an organization can be, frankly, so impotent in their actions when its words seem to be so strong.

But I still go to worship.


I think it has something to do with the need I have for mystery and community. When I stand in line in the sanctuary and hear the words "This is my body" and "This is my blood", I feel that there is something worthwhile, still, in gathering together and being sent out.

Every rational brain cell in my head screams out that there really is nothing, that meaning is something that we, as human beings, attribute to the void, because the void by itself is so terrifying. Rationally, I can understand why people invented God, because without God, life is scary. Rationally, I can understand why people commit violence in the name of God; it is because they feel threatened. I think that some of my best friends are agnostic, atheist, or "just" spiritual. Sometimes, I want to throw the whole thing away and I feel hopeless and cynical. But then, I am reminded of the nothing that once was; time that once wasn't - but is now - and I find hope.

And, honestly, the story of Jesus of Nazareth is the most appealing to me, because I believe that a human in our midst who struggled within our human condition - and who still managed to live infinite compassion - appeals to me. I want to follow him.

The Church sucks. But it's kind of like the United States of America: it's not perfect, but it's the best we have. I know this comment will tick off a lot of people from both sides of the aisle. I hope that instead, it might elicit more honest dialogue. What do you think? I love reading your comments.

Oh. And I'll see you in church.



Rachel Pieh Jones said...

It does seem that the Church has a terrible record historically. But I think it is also valuable to see how the church has lived - in community, promoting health, literacy, equality, caring for the poor, fighting for justice...I think of it a little like how east Africans tend to view America. They, in general, hate American politics. But then they will say, "But I rarely meet an American I don't like." On the one hand, it is impossible to separate the larger institution from the individual. On the other hand, it is vital. Thoughtful post today, thanks!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comments, Rachel. I agree, it is a lot like America. It's interesting how you, too, made that connection.


Anonymous said...

I like it. As you know, I had a "non-denomenational" wedding ceremony. But it was deeply spiritual. Too much of churchianity is literal cultural, yet our saviour continously references and draws from the senses. Here we write in front of a machine which flattens our senses...