Creationist? Atheist? What’s the Alternative?

The 70’s cheese fest, Happy Days, featured the Malaki brothers. I think they played football or something. (Revision: Further research leads to the conclusion it was a demolition derby, as the graphic below demonstrates) Because everybody feared the dreaded “Malaki Crunch.”
We are all moderates in some things and to some people. And so we all live in fear of a sort of Malaki crunch. The extremes can start to look like brothers. And they sometimes want to squish us between the intensity of their own views.
malachicrunch
An arena I frequently find myself trying to avoid a crunch between the extremes is on the question of just what the creation account in the book of Genesis means.
Lets call one of the brothers Larry Literalist Malaki. He wants to crunch me up because he is bothered that I am not taking the same portion of the bible literally as he is. Larry will claim he takes the whole bible literally. But he only does on certain hot-button issues, in certain stories.
And let’s call the other brother Sam the Secular Humanist Malaki. Sam might make a paternizing attempt at valuing the poetry of the bible. He doesn’t see anything like truth in it, though.

So here I am. In the middle. Hoping to out maneveur them both. There are some things I know. One is that sometimes we trivialize the truth by making it literally true only once. If we started hunting around for the original, individual worm eaten by the actual and literal early bird, we will have done more than missed the point. We will have cheapened the value of the statement, “The Early Bird Catches the Worm.”
Here in the middle, I believe that God unraveled the universe according to scientific laws. I believe the account that scientists give us about the order and reason these things happen is roughly correct. I believe they are not far from what the bible tells us.
There are a large number of reasons to think that the universe was custom designed to give rise to life. This is one understanding of what scientists call the anthropic principle.
I believe God knew that life would arise. I believe God watched the evolutionary principles he put in place. I think it’s a fool’s errand to wonder if he intervened in this process. God’s intervention is like our intervention. It might not even make any sense to apply this question, “Did God intervene?” After all, He is the ground and center of existence.
I believe that in some goofy apes, slowly losing their hair, he saw the lovely children he had been waiting for. His image resided in these creatures in some profound and special way. The big bang itself had erupted so that this would happen.
These protohumans might have lived in a way that is nearly incomprehensible to us. Niether civilized nor animalistic. For a time, they did live in this edenic way.
Was there only two? A man and a women? Maybe. Maybe not. I am not sure that it matters.
What is certain is that these almost humans, they weren’t living between civilized and wild. They were living in something else, entirely. Where we are defined by head knowledge and doubt, they were ruled by heart knowledge and faith.
This living had to be by choice, or it would be meaningless. There needed to be some sort of escape hatch, some veto power over God’s dominion. Without this, Adam and Eve would have been hardly different than the animals they had sprung up from.
And they took it. They rejected God. They walked into the world as it is now, they left the world that was meant to be.
And I have done this and you have done this too.

The meaning of our lives is to return to the culmination of what God was leading them to. We are meant to return to the Garden of Eden. This is not a step backwards, a starting over. Adam and Eve were headed in some direction before this diversion. And we are guided ahead, to that same destination that they were headed for.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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