Friday, 16 February 2007

The Wonder of Growth

World Science has posted new articles on: a seed vault to protect genetic diversity in the future; parent's don't realize how heavy their kids are; origami has some really cool mathematical properties; naps cut heart disease; pot helps reduce pain if you have AIDS; and how Cleopatra was ugly.

We may well have found the youngest star ever.
There in the midst of the famed gases of the Eagle Nebula, so well publicized through the Hubble Telescope, in the Pillars of Creation, is a bit of gas and dust dense enough to be a protostar, and probably very similar to what our sun was like.

Some have argued that God created the world, the universe, everything, in seven days. Others say He did it all long ago, over millions of years, or that He does it repeatedly, when something is just too irreducibly complex and He needs to step in. I guess I'm just not interested in that kind of god. A god who started everything, made everything, and then stepped back. My experience is with a God who is so intimately tied into His creation that He is present everywhere within it. He is so close to it that He breathes part of His Spirit into a portion of it.

To argue that He started everything off and then stepped back, even if only 6,000 years ago, strikes me as just...incomplete. Even saying He still sustains creation isn't enough. The main thrust of His act died, as if stillborn on the table. It lacks panache, finesse, a hope of wonder, the excitement of a truly new thing. I want a God who does something new- rivers in the solitude that eventually cut canyons from the mountains.

How much more exciting to think that He is out there still, forming new stars! Oh, certainly through the path of stellar evolution (not at all related to biological evolution, except as a platform), via the actions of gravity and randomness. And yet, present through it all, for in Him, the stars live and move and have their being. Perhaps He started it all off, and set it all up, so that it worked and meshed perfectly. I don't mean that all of the universe is perfect- but rather that the processes are wondrous. The concept of continuous change, of life and death, of building and destroying- who could imagine it?

And if He started it all off, does that negate His intimate presence? Does that diminish Him? I think rather it increases His glory, that He doesn't need to step in at every moment (or every few thousand years for the IDists), to tweak some bit that's wandered off in the wrong direction.

This also in no way denies His presence in the miraculous, where He interjects Himself for our sake to show some manifestation of the numinous. Whether or not that type of interjection was predetermined or concurrent with our reality is rather immaterial, for a Being outside of time.

What that stellar evolution lacks in DNA intricacy it makes up for in grandeur. It is certainly possible to look into the Heavens and deny there is a God. Ontological proof isn't the point. Rather it is simple worship. Here is One who revels in His creative acts, continuing them for the pure joy of it.

The God I follow dwelt among us for awhile, then dying and rising again. The myth of the dying God takes on new flesh in Christianity, and is central to the story, recapitulated continually throughout the life of the early church. Death brings life. There is value in undeserved suffering. Not that it is good, in any way. But rather that the Creator comes alongside His creation, and suffers with them. And in the process affirms the age-old myth of death and rebirth.

In stellar evolution, this is present, too. Stars go nova, becoming nebula, from whence new stars are born. There in the Eagle Nebula new stars are born. And research in January indicates that six thousand years ago the Pillars of Creation were destroyed by supernovae. It is hoped that some of these protostars remain. We'll find out in about a thousand years. But the cycle of birth and death will continue regardless. As will the wonders of a continuously changing creation.

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