January 21, 2014

It’s always interesting having someone else there for Morning Prayer. There are certain things in the liturgy said responsively when there’s more than one person, but honestly – I think it’s better said together. For instance, there is a call: “Lord, open our lips” and the response: “And our mouth shall proclaim Your praise.” Said separately, it’s okay, but said as a whole, it makes more sense.

Today’s Old Testament reading sparked a conversation about the Flood, and science and religion in general.  I rather like how Abdu’l-Baha put it in one of his Paris Talks:

“If religion were contrary to logical reason then it would cease to be a religion and be merely a tradition. Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism. All religions of the present day have fallen into superstitious practices, out of harmony alike with the true principles of the teaching they represent and with the scientific discoveries of the time.”

I’ve never found religion and science to be incompatible, but rather that they tend to use different vocabularies for the same thing.

As with the entire concept that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve, the concept that all humanity is now descended from Noah’s family (3 sons and their 3 wives), does not allow for enough genetic diversity for a viable race.  What I think many people forget to take into account is that the Bible is kind of the history of one line of people.  Other lines enter in, walk in parallel and exit over time, but the main characters come from the one family.

Starting with Adam and Eve – Adam can be representative of Adam Kadmon (Hebrew for “the first man”) and Eve representative of Havvah Kadmon (Hebrew for “the first woman”).  However, by themselves, Adam means mankind, and Havvah means womankind.  God created Adam and Eve – all of mankind.  The Bible tells the story of the first pair.  Who had 3 sons.  Given the complexity that God wove into our DNA, I’m thinking He probably arranged for a bit more genetic diversity. 🙂

So, then go up to Noah’s family.  The story of the flood in history is actually told in a wide variety of cultures, all happening at approximately the same time, so you have to believe that it is a historic event documented within the Bible (sometimes the history part can be difficult to prove).  However, those stories have to come from the ones who survived the floods…  They have their own histories and legends surrounding the great flood.  The Epic of Gilgamesh speaks of a story remarkably similar in Sumeria; the Myth of Deucalion in Greece, which is supported by the myths of the actions of the King of Arcadia at the time (and that’s a truly heinous story); the Myth of Dwyfan and Dwyfach in Wales; the Hindi Tale of Manu from India; or the Brazilian Myths in South America.  (And if you want more, there’s a list compiling them here.)

There are, of course, commonalities and differences in the stories.  Most involve a material versus spiritual/evil v. good/god-like v. lower self issue.  The time period for the flood is roughly the same.  In some, there are those who prepare ahead of time, saving what foods, animals and good people they can.  In some, it’s a complete last-ditch effort to survive.

Through all of them is a period of time the land is unable to be tilled, and the introduction of eating more than fruits and vegetables is introduced.  If we look at today’s “global warming” or “climate change” concepts, we can see that they’ve been around a good, long time – in the old days, apparently it was the fault of God, rather than man’s fault.  🙂  (Sorry, I have to laugh at the hubris that mankind thinks it can affect the Earth to a great degree.)  In any case, weather records weren’t really kept at that point in time, at least not that survived history.  Great floods, great draughts, great fires, volcanoes – those all made the news of history that survived.  Other than that, it’s speculation.  But, given the widespread stories of the flood, in areas not covered by the family lines in the Bible, I think it’s pretty safe to say the Earth went through a pretty major shift, and people all over survived in small pockets.  We get to hear the stories of Noah and his family in the Bible.

Conflicts between science and religion don’t make sense.  God created both.

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