Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Reflection that Bleeds

“A being so powerful and so full of knowledge as a God who could create the universe, is to our finite minds omnipotent and omniscient, and it revolts our understanding to suppose that his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage can there be in the sufferings of millions of the lower animals throughout almost endless time?"

Charles Darwin.

No matter where, no matter who, when it comes to the children of Adam, we are all trying to hide from a reflection of our true selves - our real purpose.

Reflecting upon his countless observations, Darwin himself could not escape what Paul defined as the 'knowledge of God' written into creation. He wrote in the Origin of the Species of: "the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist".

The issue which truly troubled him in the light of that reality, as it should do us, was the amount of pain, misery and chillingly cold suffering within the universe, which simply did not appear to marry with the Christian concept of a caring God, leaving him questioning, arguing, protesting against such seemingly blind ugliness and pointless destruction - the tyranny of death.
Will not the judge of all the earth do right? asks the scripture, and as we look upon life which is so tethered to the ruin of physical extinction, often after a long process of decay, it is a matter which must weigh upon us. That very concern, that very response to such a calamity informs us of something - that we require, we expect, something better than such futility, and such a response raises an equally telling issue about ourselves - why, if death and decay are merely natural, would we desire, even demand such a thing in our cold universe?

It is because, even amidst the coldness, as Darwin himself noted, we see something more - a power and a 'glory' which makes our cry for right and an end to the injustice of death even more vital and acute. Though we only glimpse it, that vision 'speaks' of a nature and character above and beyond the futile and the miserable - something which resonates at the deepest point within us, reflected in our need and our desire to be creatures which care, which know that we have a Creator and Father beyond the present pain.

Christianity provides us with two key answers regarding the nature of this present evil.
Evil itself is not eternal - it derives from fallen created creatures - particularly ourselves - and its working is therefore limited to the present age. It will be removed, and creation will be freed from bondage to this futility.
Evil was stripped by the work of God in Christ, especially at the cross. A new age has begun, and the resurrection of Jesus points to the day to come, when such pain and darkness will be gone.

These truths bring the entire issue back to our own doorsteps - to what we see in ourselves when we seek to deny our true nature, reveling in the mire of unbelief, or equally, when we stand, aghast at our ability to love and to see and receive love from others.

Life teaches us, amidst the bruises, to look harder and deeper - the truth may hurt, but it is indeed the fist steps to a deeper healing.

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