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Does God Meddle? - Ed's journal
Does God Meddle?
So this morning on the way into work, I caught thought for the day on Radio 4. I like doing that. Mostly because it means I'll be on time. But also because it makes me think, even if I disagree with them.

Now, this morning the speaker (Who's name I shall insert here with the R4 website updates) was talking about evolution. And how the essentially blind process of evolution, is hard to mesh with the story of genesis, and God creating the world.

Now, this line of thinking bothers me. It's typical human arrogance, that assumes that because we meddle with everything, everywhere, every day, then God must be too. He's not. We've documents indicating that he 'meddled' significantly 2000 years (or so) ago, and the ripples and consequences of doing so ... well, they're still felt around the world today. And in the mean time, we've had some really quite horrendous behaviour - the Crusades were not a bright point in human history - as a result.

So, just to change tangent a little. Are you aware of what a Fractal is? One like the Mandelbrot Set. It's a pretty picture with, at least as far as we can tell, infinite depths of complexity.

The picture defined by the M set is actually one simple equation. And yet you can zoom in on elements of the set, and see not just infinite complexity, but the original pattern repeating itself.

We have the LHC built in CERN to try and help us discover this equation of the Universe. The Universe might well be a pretty awesome fractal.

Which brings us around to the central point - Why is it that so many religions assume that God is a meddler? That he's flipping a coin or something, to choose - this one lives, that one dies. Ducks with feet good, Pigs with wings bad. Rain to day, sun tomorrow.
It's mankind's peculiar conceit that something needs to be fiddled with, in order to show that they care about it, when all too often things will grow according to their nature anyway.

Does it not make more sense then, to think in terms of the big picture - God has the long view. He lit the blue touch paper, and enscribed the grand unified theory, and watched what unfolded.

Brought order of the chaos, and said 'let there be light'. The real miracle is that in doing so, his complex equation has unfolded for timescales almost unimaginable, and still there's enough detail in the pattern to bring out emergent behaviour - life.
13 comments or Leave a comment
serpentstar From: serpentstar Date: September 18th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't believe in divine intervention, or nuthin'. But if I wuz an all-powerful all-knowin' Creator o' th' Universe -- that's the kinda God I'd be.
jorune From: jorune Date: September 18th, 2008 09:02 am (UTC) (Link)
There is intelligent design out there, it's called Evolution.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: September 18th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you mean that evolution is scripted? I'm not so sure. I'm of the opinion that evolution is as much an emergent property of the Universe as conciousness. E.g. not something that even requires day to day 'tweaking'.
queex From: queex Date: September 18th, 2008 10:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought 'Evolution as God's tool' was a perfectly acceptable reconciliation, but I became less sure of that when someone pointed out that that approach implies that God is deceitful (or at least deceitful by omission) in the testament.
necessitysslave From: necessitysslave Date: September 18th, 2008 11:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Except that most churches don't say the bible is gods dictated words but have been passed through imperfect people before writing down..... Also the concept of parable applies in that 7 days = 7 stages?
queex From: queex Date: September 18th, 2008 11:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I have heard arguments that even if Genesis is intended as a metaphor, then God must have wilfully allowed his people to be deluded when they accepted it as literal truth.

It's not an argument I subscribe to, but it means the evolution as god's tool solution is not quite so perfect as I thought.
purp1e_magic From: purp1e_magic Date: September 18th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a similar sort of paradox with the 'son of god' thing. I don't believe that Jesus was the one and only son of God, but that he was a child of God, a prophet. But if he is the same God then he allowed people to believe he had a son and do a lot based on that fact. In that case, there are only 2 possible conclusions - that the deciet is for some justifyable purpose, or that people are so frought with their own agendas that they choose to believe what they like (since choice is a fundamental aspect of Christianity). (Obviously the third option is that I'm wrong, and that Jesus really is the son of God.)

In that case, if God chose to let people believe that Jesus was the son of God, then there's the whole church spreading aid and good and morality and faith. And that's not to mention anything that's yet to come. It's all people's choices, but it brings a new action to the forefront as a viable option. Maybe it's more like chemistry where you need the lie of a simple model to be able to understand the more complex version. For evolution there is that contesting of science through faith, perhaps it will cause some revelation that will reunite the 2, a discovery caused by questioning and unbelief that will make the deception worthwhile.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: September 18th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think God chose anything at all. I think we've got 2000 years of men. Biases and all, distorting and 'interpreting' according to what they feel is 'best'. Some for positive motives, some not so much.
mrph From: mrph Date: September 18th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's an awkward one. I think I consider it as an extension of free will though, rather than deceit.

If God says 'this is my son', or 'this is my prophet', fair enough.

If people later muddle the message and God keeps coming back and very loudly saying 'No, it's not that way...' - whether that's about Jesus, or interpretation of scripture, or any of a dozen other things... then I'm not sure that would actually achieve anything, on a spiritual level.

People would be believing what they were told to believe, not thinking and choosing. Of course, the bible (and other holy books) already say "this is how it is" but - at least in my head - that's somehow different.

Erm. If that makes any sense at all? I may not be at my most coherent today.

sobrique From: sobrique Date: September 18th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've heard that argument. Like you, I don't agree. Something can have a meaning, and yet not be 'literally true' - a painting is a good example. Quite why anyone assumes the Bible was intended to be a literal text, I don't know. Throughout you get Jesus spreading the word via parable, so it's really not too much a stretch to assume the Bible is essentially the same.
mrph From: mrph Date: September 18th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Karen Armstrong's biography of the Bible has some interesting points about this. In particular, a literal belief in the events of Genesis appears to be a relatively modern phenomenom...
xarrion From: xarrion Date: September 18th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
does it say anywhere that he shouldn't be deceitful?
jorune From: jorune Date: September 20th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)
The Catholic Church has re-iterated its position on evolution, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26747166/
13 comments or Leave a comment