This week, the evolution versus creationism debate reared its head in the cyber connections many homeschoolers share. It’s a perennial squabble in any heterogeneous group of homeschoolers (and, in my experience, any group of homeschoolers is heterogeneous). Just to clarify, I teach evolution, although I doubt that surprises anyone who knows me or has read this blog before. This won’t be a rant against homeschool-friendly science texts teaching creationism (guess the latest scuttlebutt?) or an attempt to change a single mind about an issue that is poorly framed much of the time.
Yes, I accept the science of a 13 billion year old universe with its big bang beginning. Earth’s shorter, at least on the cosmic timeline, 4.7 billion year existence and life on earth’s 3.8 billion year beginnings are among my teachings to my children and inform the way I see the world and its workings. My children share this long look at our universe and planet along with a good understanding of what Darwin found on his voyage and just what those finch beaks teach us about how life evolves over time. The age of the earth and evolution of life on this planet permeate our understanding of science, history, language, and religion.
I hold to the geology, biology, astronomy, microbiology, botany, zoology, physics, biochemistry, and archeology that continue to add to our knowledge of the earth’s start and life’s origins. Raised by a biology researcher and professor (Methodist then Presbyterian) father and zoologist/religious studies and women’s studies professor (Catholic then Reformed Jew) mother, I grew up with science and religion, co-existing without strain or compromise or either. And I never gave it a second thought. Growing up in Protestant and Catholic churches (often in the same Sunday), I saw denomination as a personal choice, a way to express one’s experience with the divine. And while morality classes in my Catholic high school raised ethical questions regarding how science is used, the science itself was just that– the science.
Now I’m a practicing Unitarian Universalist, actively seeking a spiritual path that best helps me experience the divine and, simply put, be a moral, loving, peaceful, compassionate human being. Call it Lutheran, Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, or Jain. Call it what you like. It’s humans reaching beyond our egos, our physical beings and all the stuff we call “self”, a connection to more, to meaning beyond the end of our noses. Call it God, Yahweh, Adonai, the Tao, Shiva, Allah, whatever. Call it nothing at all. (That which can be named is not it not the Tao, say Taoists. As soon as we name the divine, we limit it. That’s another post.)
This universe, our world, life itself, is holy and sacred. More amazing to me is the expansive timeline of the universe and life itself. More recent discoveries about the interaction of subatomic particles deepen my appreciation of and reverence for the origins of our universe. Every discovery of an older fossil, earlier human, more ancient rock, or distant planetary system increase the mystery and divinity of the whole works. And the divine is no less so for 13.7 billion years of vast existence, more time and space the human mind can truly grasp. This holiness decreases not a mite for 4.7 million years of evolution of life on earth, changes more gradual than our measly 70 or so years allow us to observe yet leaving a trail for us to follow and ponder. We share a sacred space for a blink of an eye, earth’s existence speaking. Let’s share it in peace, wonder, and awe.
Postscript: I’m a fan of Peter Mayer, a folksinger from Minnesota. His CD, The Great Story, contains 13 songs that celebrate the majesty and holiness of the universe and earth. Three are put to video with lyrics overlayed. While I’m partial to Holy Now, all three speak to me. The Symphony of Science offer an interesting listen experience as well. What speaks to you?