God and Creation

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God and Creation Powered By Docstoc
					by: Cory L. Kemp

The NBC drama, The West Wing, is giving us something this Sunday evening that real life
doesn't deliver, a real, live debate of the political issues facing the fictional presidential campaign
of Democratic Congressman Matthew Santos and Republican Senator Arnold Vinek. These
characters, played by Jimmie Smits and Alan Alda respectively, decided between themselves in
last week's episode to set aside formal negotiations, canned formats and the wishes of their
campaign staffs, to simply debate openly. Now, the actors playing the roles are spending this
week preparing by reading position papers, practicing with their coaches, wondering how they
will perform, and who will win.

It has been an interesting process, this campaign from behind-the-scenes that is only implied in
the news blasts we receive from the media in real elections. Both fictional candidates have
struggled with the balance between personally-held beliefs and publicly-declared responsibility
to represent their constituency. What is most fascinating is how each man articulates this
balance. Wanting to believe our real-life candidates are as imbued with passion and integrity for
the political process, and those of us they represent, I am still anticipating my conversation

Intelligent design, as an educational alternative to evolution, is one of the campaign topics
already addressed. If may or may not be entered into the Sunday night debate, but it is an
interesting new label for what in the past has been called creationism. Creationism indicates a
belief that God created the earth, and continued on to finish up the world in six days, resting on
the seventh day. Intelligent design similarly focuses on a larger power creating the world in an
orderly fashion, with purpose in each step, but does not place a time frame of one week around
the process. Evolution presents the concrete process of what we know, so far, of how we as
human beings came to be, as well as how the whole of our environment shaped itself.

The usual argument is, at its core, a proof text for the separate but equal attitude we as a culture
attach to concepts that demand too much of us, and with which we really don't want to struggle.
Inviting all perspectives to this table means each participant would have to be served with
hospitality, kindness and respect, but not necessarily be as clear on their original position as
when they first sat down. Dismissing any long-held belief would be shown the door, because
disrespect would not, could not be tolerated, in order to develop a true discussion of openness
and mutuality. Quite frankly, separate but equal suits us because then we don't have to explore
our faith or expand our understanding of scientific values, and how they benefit us in highly
practical, and sometimes mysterious, ways.

Those who reflect on the theological concept of intelligent design, pose the idea that we as
human beings are more comfortable, and I would add, more confident, in believing there is a
purpose to our presence here, and how we arrived in the first place. The randomness of asteroids,
dinosaur deaths as precursors to our own opportunity for life, and who happens to avoid the
many pitfalls of the natural selection process, makes us nervous. It is disquieting to, say the least,
whenever our faith is challenged, but particularly in its foundational belief that God has this
whole creation process wrapped up, that this is one thing on which we can rely. Those who have
a belief system that does not depend upon the juxtaposition of faith and science might say that
God, as Creator, has many tools with which to work, and many people with whom to share them.
Contrary to an either/or debate, the belief that God created the universe in the first place doesn't
follow through to the point that God completed the whole creative process related to humanity.

While the earth as we know it was ready to receive us, however many years ago, we have also
moved forward a bit culturally since we began our stint here as cave dwellers. We have chosen,
through all these years, to move out of the caves and into progressively more comfortable
dwellings, not because God planted them in front of us and turned over the keys, but because we
created the path, with God, in each new step of our evolutionary process. Fire didn't come from
Ebay in a FedEx box delivered to the front door. The wheel didn't arrive from Goodyear just as
we decided we had to get home in time for Christmas. My point is that we have been granted the
gift of creativity by our Creator, and in many ways, we have done well with it. We live longer,
more healthy lives than ever before. Many of us have the luxury to take time to determine our
own futures. In other ways, we have ignored our responsibility to this creative process to which
God has called us. At the most basic level, there are still people who die from lack of food,
medicine and shelter that could be provided by more equitable distribution of wealth. When we
stay rooted in the belief that either God or evolutionary process created us, we deny our sacred
responsibility to use what skill we can to continue to craft the world into a worthwhile place for
all humanity.

So, I will be watching The West Wing debate this Sunday night, if only to see what a real debate
may look like, one in which the participants don't spout party lines, and don't assume that the
United States population can only see the world in poorly packaged dualities designed to divide
and conquer. I do want to believe that we, as citizens of this country are imbued with passion and
integrity for our political process, and how we choose to use that to impact the world.

This article was posted on November 07, 2005

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