Monday, January 7, 2008

Highway to Heaven

A friend of mine clued me to this story the other day:

Texas ministry sees I-35 as holy highway

Some believe I-35 might be shorthand that links the interstate to Isaiah 35:8 of the Bible: "And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein."

... So ... basically, the road to heaven is constantly under construction and features the occasional porn shop and casino in border areas. Got it.

This, by the way, is as clear as I can figure to be an example of eisegesis that I've ever been able to find.

If you're a fan of NPR, head on over to the Diane Rehm Show to listen to this morning's discussion about the debate between teaching evolution and creationism. The show was prompted by the statement last week by the National Academy of Sciences that urged the teaching of evolution as a basic bedrock foundation of scientific principle, rather than teaching creationism/intelligent design instead or offering up both evolution and creationism and letting the kiddos decide between the two.

Firstly, kudos for the Academy for calling this what it is, creationism, and not intelligent design. I often joke about how NOT-intelligent the design of the world is (Have you seen that March of the Penguins movie? I used to like penguins until I saw it; now I think those are the creatures most horrifically enslaved to an inefficient genetic compulsion I've ever seen. Granted, it's kept them going for all these thousands of years, but man, yikes. When and if their climate changes, they're all screwed, them and the poor polar bears. Yes, we lament only the cute and cuddly seeming), but a recent viewing of a NOVA documentary on the Dover, Pa., case really gave me a good view of how intelligent design is an evolution (pun intended) of creationism with a shiny new gloss.

What I found most interesting about the creationism supporter on the Diane Rehm show was his insistence that his arguments weren't based in the Bible, but he took issue with how "materialism" (not the Brittney Spears-worshipping kind, but the kind that's based in the material of the world, he says) removes the ultimate purpose from human existence. Which, really, isn't a religious issue at all, but a worldview issue. Actually, that kind of anthrocentric worldview to me sounds vaguely like human-worship; that is, it says that we're so very important that we were created for some special purpose, and any idea that says we're just here through random chance reduces us to nothing more special an aemoeba. Which is impossible because humans are too important to be the same as aemoeba.

I rather find the concept of human existence in the world -- and hell, aemoeba existence, too -- as a product of random mutation rather awesome (not in the same vein as "these earrings are awesome!" but "That f-5 tornado bearing down on my house strikes awe in my heart"), moreso than that of some creator who has designed us for some purpose. Out of all the billions upon billions squared possibilities in the universe, there you are, just you, a unique person. Sit back for a second an appreciate that as a miracle, one that's reduced to the mundane by the fact that there are 6 billion and counting miracles walking the earth.

Admittedly, that sounds a bit like human worshipping, too, but with a different focus, one on being rather than goal, purpose or ultimate accomplishment. Very much like how the concept of God's grace was described to me, that we receive it not because of anything we do or even believe or join, but because we are.

Comic book scribe extraordinaire Alan Moore said it better than I did more than 20 years ago in his Watchmen series, about when the whole creationism mess was first rearing its ugly head:

Doctor Manhattan: Thermo-dynamic miracles... events with odds against so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless
generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter... Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so
specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold... that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermo-dynamic miracle.

Laurie Juspeczyk: But...if me, my birth, if that's a thermodynamic miracle... I mean, you could say that about anybody in the world!

Dr. Manhattan: Yes. Anybody in the world. ..But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget... I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from the another's vantage point. As if new, it may still take our breath away. Come...dry your eyes. For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly.


Erudite Redneck said...

Um, this comes eerily close to my own path!

"... So ... basically, the road to heaven is constantly under construction and features the occasional porn shop and casino in border areas. Got it."


drlobojo said...

If a "child" is capable of "choosing" between Creationism or Evolutionism, then does it not follow that they are capable of choosing between belief in a God and Atheism? Should we insist that that too be part of the curriculum, not as "Religion" mind you but say, as part of a Math class.

When people discuss evolution, they generally pass over half of the equation necessary for it to work. They dwell on the sex and the death parts, and the change of the organism parts and almost never notice that the organism would not have to evolve or change if the environment didn't change.

So given a Star's size determines the mass cloud it attracts, which determines, the basic orbits that its planets will form in, which determines the type of planet it will be, which determines what geologic and geomorphological sequence it will go through. Like type 3rd generation Stars everywhere in the cosmos will likely have like type life within a range of varibility. By the way it takes a 3rd generation Star to have cooked and recooked the elements to the point that they can make life and gold too.

It ain't all that random. There are "principles" that govern the cosmos outside of existance of anything in it. For example the music of the perfect fifth is everywhere in the cosmos regardless of whether it has something in existance to be played on. Oh, yes, and just for fun, the ratio of the perfect fifth is 1:.666.

You seem to be on the path of The Way.

HapaThealogy said...

ER: Of course it does! That's because we're Out There.

Drlobojo: (blank stare) Someone pull the string on my back so I can chirp Barbie-style: "Math is haaaard!"
Seriously, though, I love that concept. Math freaks me out, but only because I recognize how governing it is to all that is in the universe.