Monday, December 26, 2016

Wisdom, Power and Goodness

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"Geometry, the first and noblest of sciences is the basis on which the superstructure of Freemasonry is erected. By Geometry, we may curiously trace nature through her various windings to her most concealed recesses. By it, we discover the wisdom, power and goodness of the Grand Architect of the Universe and view with delight the proportions which connect this vast machine. By it we discover how the planets move in their respective orbits and demonstrate their various revolutions."

I recall sitting in a science class in high school. Our teacher, Mr. Mohr, dropped a chunk of sodium into a beaker of water. The sodium instantly fizzed up and zooped around the beaker like an out of control power boat. Then it burst into flames and finally exploded as the students oohed and aahed. When the rumbling subsided, the diabolical Mr. Mohr called on an unfortunate student, "Henry, what made it do that?"

Henry beamed, "God."

The class thought it was funny. Mr. Mohr, who had the sense of humor of a wounded gorilla, didn't. In his own gruff and unsympathetic way he explained that just because we don't understand something doesn't mean it's a direct result of God's action.

True, but in fact the Masonic ritual teaches there is a relationship between God and the physical universe. From that relationship, as we learn in the Second Degree lecture, we can not only observe the magnificence of the Creator, but also draw moral symbolism from metaphors we see in His physical creation.

God and science are not at war. They can't be. Think about that… they can't be. It is we humans, who don't have all the answers when it comes to understanding either God or science, who somehow perceive there is a war. As Henry discovered, it's a slippery slope to take something we don't understand, stop research, and conclude it's God's work; in that event, what happens when we discover the scientific principle behind it? Historically, many have taken the stance that the research is wrong in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is, in fact, right.

In the 17th century, for example, humans did not understand the solar system. It was taken as scientific and religious fact that the sun circled the earth (Psalm 104 tells us: "He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." ~Psalm 104:5, NIV)." When scientists proved the earth, in fact, did orbit the sun, rather than being inconsistent with God's design, it revealed it. The church, however, still didn't warm up to the concept right away. Today, scientists and virtually all religious establishments know it to be an incontrovertible fact.

Today's hot buttons include evolution, the "Big Bang Theory" and a few more points of contention. Regardless of your point of view on these issues, the facts for each are overwhelming; and with some religious groups challenging scientific evidence we are, on some level, back in the 17th century. Scientific discoveries are not political, not vindictive and not anti-God. They are based on fact. (Not, by the way, just on observation — any idiot can observe daily that the sun circles the earth). These discoveries don't offer proof of God one way or the other. They prove we have learned more about God's universe and, as we are admonished, should "view with delight" all such revelations.

What these scientific discoveries do prove is that God is bigger and more complex than we can ever comprehend. So complex, in fact, that when asked to prove God exists, famed theologian and Freemason Peter Marshall responded, "How could my tiny mind prove God?"

The Reverend Marshall went further. He turned the tables and asked his questioners to prove they existed. Fact is, he was onto something. Any legitimate, credible scientist today will tell you, your body is nothing but energy. Your house, everything inside it, the trees outside, the very ground you walk on is nothing but energy. This is not some kind of New Age folderol; it's scientific fact. Sounds kind of spiritual, doesn't it? Or, as Dr. Wayne Dyer put it, "You are not a body with a soul. You are a soul with a body"

If what you personally believe about God seems inconsistent with scientific facts, consider this: scientists have already observed the world of relativity and the quantum world appear completely incompatible. Yet, they coexist! Can't God coexist along with them even with perceived inconsistencies? And don't we know on some level all those inconsistencies have to iron themselves out, even if that process is beyond our human capability to figure out?

So many concepts still baffle our best scientists: dark matter and dark energy; the nature of time and matter inside black holes — the "singularity"; a unified theory; the possibility of parallel universes; backwards time travel; dimensions beyond the three (four, if you count time) we live in; quantum entanglement, a phenomenon so strange and baffling that Einstein called it "spooky." To each of these, the best scientific minds around would say, "We just don't completely understand." Or, perhaps more accurately, "We just don't have all the facts."

Many, even some scientists, think there may be spiritual elements to these mysteries. The scientists, however, will not draw conclusions without proven facts — pesky hindrances that some outside the scientific community have the luxury of ignoring. In our lifetimes, we will most likely solve some of these mysteries. To many, those discoveries will not just reveal scientific facts. They will also give us greater insight into the wisdom, power and goodness of the Grand Architect of the Universe.

And I, for one, finding far more spirituality in science than science in spirituality, anticipate each new discovery with delight.

For the Whence Came You podcast, this is Steve Harrison with the Masonic Minute.

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