The Power of a Dandelion

I have something of a hard head at times. Therefore it took me a while to realize that having a debate about the existence of God tends to be an activity in futility.

You are immediately confronted with the demand that you “prove God exists.” With all due respect to the right-wing fundogelicals, it can’t be done.

All the so-called proofs from Aquinas on down and probably before are merely logical deductions of one sort or another. And logic does not always equal truth.

Moreover, it seems to me, that God not being provable in an evidentiary, reproducible way, is the way it’s supposed to be. After all, if God can be proven, then, God comes down to an intellectual proposition. If you have intelligence of a certain level to understand the evidence, you will believe.

The bible suggests that God might prefer that we believe as a matter of faith. Of course, if one takes the various Hebrew Scripture stories at face value, it would seem that God has made it quite clear that He exists. The parting of a sea, pillars of fire, talking to folks from bushes, all these would suggest that God indeed wishes us believe by incontrovertible evidence.

But, I suspect that these are more story to teach than writings of authentic historical events. In other words, we are to use the story to realize a certain truth about God, ourselves, and our relationship with Him. If the stories had been literally true, then it begs the question why we tended to forget the miraculous and so often strayed into “disbelief” as God so often reminds us.

God is gracious, this we believe. He has given us perfect freedom, this too we believe. He does not coerce. If there were proof positive of God, which He most clearly can provide should He wish, then no one would really have any choice would they? Unless they were insane, and then God surely wouldn’t punish one for having no functioning mind.

Part of freedom, then seems to me, that we much find God on our own. We must in short choose to believe, we must have faith. We must choose faith and then live a life in accordance with that faith. We, those of us who do have that faith, are richly rewarded, we believe. Rewarded with knowing that we are not alone, that God is with us. We are rewarded in turning to each other and recognizing that our faith calls us to sistership with all of humanity. That is an amazing gift.

So, for each of us, faith, it seems to me, comes in its own way and time. There is no one-size-fits-all. The things that make me believe, may not move you one whit. And vice versa. This is utterly unsatisfying to the atheist of course, but sorry, that’s the nature of God, we believe.

We do hope and we do pray that one day you too will be touched, and turn to faith in something greater than yourself. But we cannot make any argument that is “proof.”

What we can do is share our beliefs, the whys and wherefores. Because it is just such an argument that struck me as “truth” one day. Although we are deeply unique, we always share massive amounts of sameness. Thus I trust that what moved me may move some others. I’d like to think that something I say might resonate with someone else. That is my prayer.

While I was humbled by the idea that thousands of more-brilliant-than-me persons were believers, that was not enough. I pondered and could come up with no reasons why dozens, then hundreds, and perhaps more were witness to Jesus’ actions in the world and chose to make up a religion out of it that had no basis in fact. I pondered the idea that there was, and never could be proof that God did not exist.

This was enough for me to get me started.

I have more today. While I utterly find that evolutionary biology can and does set out a system by which life, once begun changed over time to the splendid and bountiful offerings we see about us today, I am not satisfied that evolutionary biology can explain one aspect.

That aspect is the intense, almost beyond belief desire of life to persist under the most extreme conditions. Life literally claws and clings to life no matter the odds. From the human being who struggles against what might seem impossible odds to survive in some accident, to the plethora of life that finds purchase under icecaps and in the depths of our oceans, life simply is tenacious.

I suppose that a biologist might tell me that that too is a genetic mutation–this desire to exist. I suppose they could be right, but I’m not sure they can ever prove that, and it seems to me much easier to believe that God’s indomitable Spirit, present in all life, is a truer proof.

Walk any city street in America, especially in the more depressed and old areas. See the cracked sidewalk. If you walk far enough, you will inevitably find that lone dandelion, growing tall in a small crack in the cement. How that seed came to land and fall down, how it came to find some soil, and some nutrient, we shall not know. But it grows, and it tries. In the heat of the days, being stepped up, ridden over by tricycles, it doesn’t give up. It grows, and it sets its seed and it gives them to the wind in the oldest story of time–the desire to replicate itself.

If we are all to die, and if it makes not a whit of difference that we have lived (at least to us, safely dead in our graves), then I wonder why we try so hard. It seems to me we do so, because the God within tries so hard. Through us, as through the dandelion, God experiences His creation. God never stops thirsting for experience, and never stops seeking relationship with his created.

It’s the proof of a dandelion. Maybe it will speak to your heart today.

Amen.

***

Do stop by Jan’s blog, Yearning for God,  for the perfect poem for this post.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. John Anngeister
    Oct 03, 2010 @ 22:12:33

    Sherry, I had to drop in to at least say ‘nice photograph!’ 🙂

    You’re treading deep waters here, especially in your second half. I had to check twice before checking in just to make sure you were not tending to pantheism (which I don’t like so much).

    But I think your point about the seemingly irrepressible ‘life force’ that almost jealously hovers within the genetic material is pretty well taken and not necessarily pantheistic (and even if it is, it’s your blog after all).

    The materialist advocate of abiogenesis seems undaunted by these inscrutables which you bring up when he argues for his incredible path between the airy ring of a slime bubble, a lightening bolt on pond water, whatever … to the emergence of a microscopic replicator.

    So many ‘wishful’ biogenesists proceed as if Natural Selection can actually account for DNA (or even RNA) whereas the theory in fact is meaningless without aome kind of genetic material being assumed as given. There is simply no ‘natural selection’ without genetics, and no accounting for genetics by a circular argument relying on Natural Selection.

    So thanks for the post, an occasion of reflection for me this evening.

    Reply

  2. Sherry
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 13:27:09

    Thanks John,

    People often get confused about pantheism (God = nature) and panentheism (God is in nature, but is more than just the material world). I’m definitely not the former, but am quite comfortable with the later. Here is a link to a very good explanation of panentheism and how it is viewed by various religious traditions. http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/panentheism

    I agree, science has not yet given forth anything like a good explanation for the beginning of life. There are tons of theories, but so far little else. While my beliefs don’t depend on this one way or the other, the creationists misunderstand evolution, thinking that it explains the origins of life, and now how life changed once it was extant.

    I like many others, find nature instructive of God. Not in a logical way that I can explain, but one does wonder at the plethora of any given type: thousands of different beetles for instance.

    Blessings.

    Reply

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