Our outlook on life depends on what we let our mind see.
We live in this world as a species at war with itself. I don’t just mean the visible, battles for land, food, resources and power. I mean in our way of looking at things, even within each of us individually. And then, it spills out without our even noticing.
We battle between creationism, science and imagination. Some people claim evolution is a science and creationism fantasy. Others object. This leads to conflict. I say ‘prove it or, for that matter, disprove it.’ That’s what science is supposed to do. Within a species you can prove evolution, for your various wild and tame breeds of canine, feline and equine are proof enough. But I’ve never seen anything to suggest solid proof man came from a monkey. And the odds are astronomical against even a single cell coming to life without a guiding mind behind it. So it’s not like gravity, where you can drop something off a cliff and instantly prove it. If you want to teach science, you can’t claim all science is reproducible except this one thing! That makes it a scientific theory, not a fact. Whether I believe (or want to believe) the alternative theory is besides the point. I, for one, know I can’t really prove either.
The truth is the beginnings are so far back no-one knows for sure. They can claim they do, but to some extent it’s all belief. Why they can’t admit it, is beyond me. At the same time, are we so sure we want to prove everything? Even bringing a child into the world is a perilous venture. And we’re trying for artificial intelligence. Who knows what will happen when the imperfect intelligence of humanity succeeds? It’s unlikely to create perfection. Many a sci fi movie is based on the robots rebelling against mankind. (Well, if mankind rebelled against God than I guess that would make us the robot’s god and turn about is fair play.) And we’ve already seen ‘Planet of the Apes’. No, I definitely am not keen on that being proven. I’m pretty sure my alarm at the idea isn’t soley due to a belief in God.
On the other hand, the creation story is an account no doubt passed on for generations by storytellers before written. It seems to have lost some details along the way. For instance: if Eve came for Adam, where did Seth’s wife come from? Was she from his rib? Was she his sister? Was she a monkey? (I find that thought disturbing for a lot of reasons. No one said imagination is always a good thing.) And these children of the nephilim they mention, like the giants,-what did they look like? It says ‘giants’ came from them. And giant bones have been found. (Even now the human race seems to be getting taller all the time. Would we seem giants to our ancestors?) We know dinosaurs existed, was that before humans or a different part of the world? At least some of it does dovetail with science: there is plenty of evidence, both scientific and in world myth that there was a great flood for Noah. And the evolution with the animal kingdom could explain how he stuffed so many beasts into the arc. You don’t need every breed of feline, just a starter set. And of course, some creatures were born for life in the water anyway.
Young children seem to ask these questions automatically. Then as they grow older whether Christian, Atheist or any other, their curiosity gets squashed. ‘Don’t ask’, the adults say, we don’t have the answers and fear we wouldn’t like them. Why not, I don’t know. Okay, so you believe God wrote the Bible through man. That means for all humankind, not just the rocket scientists and biologists. He certainly didn’t write it with picking apart the DNA of dinosaurs in mind.
I for one, wonder if some of our ancient religions and myths aren’t connected. Science fiction is unafraid to confront such questions. Stargate dared think ‘what if the ancient gods’ were aliens. Well, what if they were these ‘children’ of nephilim or nephilim themselves? They don’t have to be actual ‘gods’ in a pantheon for there to be a Zeus or a Hera. Just someone bigger, more powerful and maybe more high tech than humanity at the time. Were there centaurs? Or was there someone with poor vision in a horseless society who was attacked? Perhaps all his colleagues, having heard it, then saw what they expected to see. Perhaps Pegasus sprang from ancient versions of the modern western: the legendary wild white stallion. As the ancient people saw it make a mighty leap away, perhaps on a high mountain, the sun and clouds contrived wings.
I believe we need the ability to dare to imagine, even if we don’t believe in others viewpoints. Myth and legend often starts with a grain of truth. That’s no surprise. There probably always were storytellers who’d master a stories ‘spin’ (now they work for politicians) and capitalized on the best features of a true story and expand.
Unicorns and dragons probably, in some form, did exist. Maybe they still do and we just don’t recognize them. Ancient tapestries show unicorns that looked like goats with one horn. Yet now we expect a magnificent horse like creature. A one horned goat would be a mere genetic mutation to us. Paintings show Sir George battling a dragon much smaller than he and the horse. Perhaps this is a metaphor for the ‘dragon’ of Revelation, the devil. If so, he’s smaller than expected. On the other hand, maybe dragons were lizards descended from dinosaurs and were (or even are) just unrecognized. Maybe it’s not that unicorns and dragons have gone, but our ability to see them. We’ve lost it either to science or faith, when we need imagination. A dragon is supposed to be terrifying by our ‘western’ standards (as opposed to the friendlier eastern dragons) . So as we become more confident and build better weapons, our imagined dragon must be bigger and scarier. He needs more than fangs to attack the children and a powerful body. He now needs a flame thrower gullet and giant wings to take to the skies.
Is your mind full of the mundane or is it full of wonder?
But to some extent, we need them all. We need the faith (for even a belief there is no god can be considered ‘a faith’ for you can’t prove there is no god, either.) We need science. We need imagination. Perhaps imagination is the place where science meets faith and either creates a war or releases a sense of wonder. If our faith can answer the question science asks, it will be all the stronger. And if it can’t? Then we maybe we either need to think outside the box or we need a bigger box. We have far too much war. We need far more wonder.
Wonder creates answers and solutions to problems the ‘wonderless’ accept as the status quo. It invented the wheel, encouraged someone to tame the first dog and ride that early horse. It created the car and the computer and sent satellites into space. It painted the Sistine Chapel and Cinderella’s castle. It creates problems, true, but also dares to dream of solutions. It dares challenge the possible. Wonder guarantees there is joy and beauty to be found round nearly any corner: if we only have the imagination and courage to look.