Living Your Own Big Story
“Who am I?” One catholic priest asked one renowned astrophysicist. “You are a collection of particles governed by the law of physics.” He replied.
It was an unusual meeting and I was lucky enough to be part of it to tell the story.
Last week the annual Festival of Science was taken place in our local ‘Scitech Discovery Centre’ which attracted famous scientists from all around the world to share their recent discoveries with public.
Many progressive churches in our area welcomed the festival too and encouraged their worshipers to go and play in a God’s wonder playground as they called it.
At the end of each day the religious scientists and some local religious representatives met for a dinner on the top floor to discuss: ‘Science and Religion.’ The next day a head of the local Aboriginal group, who continuously lived in this part of Australia for 40,000 years and is considered one of the oldest cultures on earth was invited for this special dinner too. A small group of us, lucky 'SCIRO' volunteers were called to serve these big minds.
“If we are just a collection of particles, how do you explain the constant search of humans to find meaning and purpose to their lives?”
One evangelist priest said: “We have been given this highly functioning mind and soul and body by God to use it to our best advantage to serve him."
My friend pouring a glass of vine to this preacher smiled: “I am not religious by any means but Whitney Houston was my favorite singer and she was evangelist like you. Her mum told her she is best serving the Lord by using her voice he has given to her.”
“A great example, thank you,” the preacher smiled broadly then he turned to the catholic priest: “Better than yours ‘body and Christ’ ritual one, I heard you are using a blueberry juice instead of vine now.”
“Well, some do, much healthier option I would say,” the catholic priest returned the smile: “I also heard that world best singer to this day has died from drug overdose, alone loved by the world and no one particular. It seems to me she needed someone to listen to her without judgment so a confession may save her life.”
“For us the life of sacrifice and suffering is just a stepping stone to a better next life.”
Buddhist guru spooned his Lemon Myrtle and Desert Pea soup while turning to his Aboriginal fellow on the right:
“I love your native plants you can not find them anywhere else in the world and they truly enhance any dish, don’t they?”
“For us the land is our mother and father who care for us and everything what is on the land is sacred to us, it has a meaning and purpose to life.” The Aboriginal grey bearded man bowed his head in acknowledgement.
“You see,” the priest beamed victoriously on the astrophysicist: “Just a random bunch of particles would have no purpose in suffering and sacrifice but God gave meaning to it, didn’t he?”
Another astrophysicist picked up her vine glass: “As a religious person I am grateful that God has allowed me to study planets and discover cosmos."
" As a scientist I also know that we are highly functioning collection of particles and we are just a part of of hugely complex natural system.”
“Also sacrifice and suffering is not unique to humans as we would like to believe,” a biologist nodded towards the astrophysicist: “Most of the living creatures show different degree of emotions also they are presented differently to humans but their suffering is equal to humans.”
“Many mammals and we belong to this group too, sacrifice themselves in order to preserve lives of their offspring or in mourning for their lost long life mate as humans do.” Another student of science serving the biologist added suddenly: “I come from very religious background, you see and I struggled to comprehend once at ‘uni’ how different religious groups feel self righteous about their idea of God and how humans are so full of self importance to the point they ignore scientific evidence in order to fit it their own image of themselves.”
“We are born storytellers,” the Aboriginal man picked up his tapping sticks and quietly rhythmically continued:
“Our Dreamtime stories have been passed in songs and stories continuously for forty thousands years to give our people place and reason to be here and meaning."
Other religions are much younger although more sophisticated being preserved in writings or majestic cathedrals or tombs. We all tell our stories from the time our own story started and what we knew about the world at that time. For very long time science and religion was the one and the same thing. Then came the time when the science has advanced so much it was believed that there will be no place for religion anymore in it because how can humans continue to believe our world is just six thousands years old as the bible said when you can look at us Aboriginals and you know we are living evidence it is not true. And yet people need to believe they are more than a collection of random particles and they need to believe their existence has purpose. Why? Because we all need to be loved and we all need hope. So let us keep dreaming and tell our stories in our faiths enhanced by music and art because it is what we do the best.”
“Many Nobel winning scientists keep their faiths, because in the absence of evidence their faiths give them purpose to keep searching.” The religious one said.
“When your scientific evidence clashes with the established religious theory how do you deal with it?” The non religious physicist asked?
I treat both as separate entities I guess,” The religious astrophysicist bowed her head. “The established religious theories from whatever religion they come from, the one I have grown up or the other, are just pure human interpretations of the history and philosophy and God’s teaching. They are imperfect as humans who interpret them.”
The scientists both religious and non religious picked up their glasses and bowed in respect to the religious representatives sitting opposite to them and the physicist who was asked the first question that evening proclaimed: “Let us all work together for better humanity with all we know and discover and don’t know yet. If God is real or just a natural order of things that keeps everything in harmony we may or may not ever prove but people will keep searching for the meaning of their existence and their suffering as well looking for hope, if they can not find it in science they will go back to faith to find it. The answer is imperfect as humans are so let them to have it.”