True story. Last weekend we were in Hart near our Shack in the Woods. We went in for the festivities surrounding the annual Asparagus Festival. As I said, this is a true story, and our part of the planet is called the “heartland” of America for a reason!
Every year in one Oceana County village or another, there is a craft fair. Booths are set up in rows and each vendor, under a protective canopy, pedals their mostly hand-crafted wares. In one booth I came upon a husband and wife who were selling fossilized stones. Some were made into necklaces, and some were just designed to be bookshelf art. One piece caught my eye and I bought it. You can see it pictured below. It is a fossilized ammonite.
This piece caught my attention because I had just read Chapter IV, “The Luck of the Ammonites,” in Elizabeth Kobert’s challenging book, The Sixth Extinction. In this Chapter, the author explains how ammonites existed all over the waters of the earth between 300 and 65 million years ago. They all disappeared from the sulfurized waters of our planet after the worst day Earth has ever experienced. On one particular day about 65 million years ago a meteor dropped in on Earth from a low angle, south-to-north, slamming into Earth just off the Yucatan Peninsula. Kobert writes:
On an otherwise ordinary day sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid six miles wide collided with the earth. Exploding on contact, it released energy on the order of a hundred million megatons of TNT or more than a million of the most powerful H-bombs ever tested. Debris, including iridium from the pulverized asteroid, spread around the globe. Day turned to night, and temperatures plunged. A mass extinction ensued. “Basically, if you were a triceratops in Alberta, you had about two minutes before you got vaporized,” is how one geologist put it to me.
Along with the dinosaurs, the ammonites were eliminated. Extinct.
But the gentleman who sold me this 65 million year old fossilized ammonite said he didn’t believe in evolution. His wife said she didn’t either. Upon inquiry from me, he said, “How can we know what happened when we weren’t there?” She said, “I believe in a Big Creator.” Amazingly, the incongruity of it all seemed to escape them.
Yet, they are right!
With my gentleman vendor, who denies the science of evolution, I want to affirm the ineffable mystery of the Wholeness of Reality. Science is right, but science alone gives us a partial explanation. We need the facts, the data, the results of tests and experiments. But, if we trust only science without the personal experience to go with it, we are likely to end up in a heartless place. Those who reject scientific explanations are likely those who are advocating something with more meaning, more passion, and more heart.
With my lady vendor, who finds it hard to believe that the evolutionary process is God at work, I want to affirm the intentionality of the Wholeness of Reality. There is direction, purpose, and meaning to this cosmos within which we dwell. Without the mythology, without the story that answers the Why did this happen? question, everything is heartless.
Both the gentleman and the lady could not embrace evolution, in spite of the evidence they were selling in their booth.
But science is the truth. 65 million years ago we got slammed and everything that exists today evolved somehow from the stuff that survived that horrible day and the very long dark winter that followed.
He had a map. She had a map. The little piece of paper they gave me to explain my fossilized ammonite had yet a different explanation. Three different maps.
They are all right, and they are all partial.
Maps that are only full of scientific truth, but which lack passion and purpose and spirit, are right - but partial.
Maps that are only full of human stories and interpretations, but which ignore the scientific facts, are right - but partial.
In the Kin-dom of God we embrace the deep stories of our common humanity while also being kin to the observable scientific truths that have been consensually verified.
In the Kin-dom of God we embrace the warm heart AND the cold facts. Both.
Do you tend to side with your warm heart or the cold facts when it comes to the reality of God at work in the world?
Andy Atwood's Blog on an Evolutionary Faith and the "Kin-dom of God."
What would today's God-talk sound like if it no longer was based on ideas and beliefs that were created during times long, long ago when everyone still thought the earth was flat?
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