Thursday, March 26, 2020. Humans have basic questions. Where do I come from? How am I? We want to know how the world works. We want to know who we are. We want to know what the framework of our existence is. What can we say?
We also try to understand the human mind and spirit. It matter all what exists? What about intention? What about personality? What about spirit? This touches the old question of matter or spirit. Dualism sees spirit with its own existence, complementary to matter. Since physics developed modern quantum mechanics, our idea of what matter actually is, has significantly changed. The world appears to be very strange - but not less beautiful, in the light of modern physics.
How to gain insight? …
The approaches to find answers to the basic questions of life are many. Of course, we first need to talk about human reason and about experiments. It is one of the main features of modern science to be convinced that it is not opinion which counts when it comes to truth, but arguments, experiments, observations. It is very exciting to look at this in more detail. The theory of cognition and knowledge examines how we are able to understand things, and what the limitations of our cognitive processes are. It is quite interesting to see that we use a limited mind to investigate the boundaries of our limited mind.
The complementary approach to science is that of biblical revelation, which comes through the action of God and through the spirit of God. It sees God as the original source, who is both creator and maintainer of all what is. He has given the laws of the universe, and he is in the middle of it as the lord of all laws and processes. This type of approach does not contradict science, but it is complementary to science in the sense that science cannot predict the actions and decision of God, nor can it properly explain them using the laws which he can put on hold any time. But it is possible to report and observe the consequences of his actions, as it is reported by humans in the books of the bible and beyond.
Today, the combination of physics, biology, chemistry and medicine has gained more insight into the processes which drive live. We understand the structure of cells, enzymes, bacteria, virus infections and many further parts of the body animals and humans. We can do many things which were beyond our reach 100 or several hundreds of years ago. At the same time there is still a deep lack of knowledge when it comes to our cognition, and even very simple physical processes of our body are out of the range of our know-how. Also, we still do not understand death, there is much unknown.
Human Life …
There is more to say about our approach to gain insight into human life. We need insight which touches and properly treats all stages of human life. Birth, adulescence, partnership, love, age, death. We need to find adequate concepts for all of this. There is our desire to be important. There is our human desire to be loved. We want to be unique. We want to be seen. We want to play, to talk, to do, to make a difference.
Evolutionary biology tries to develop concepts which explain human behaviour as mechanism which have been important for evolution. The idea is that over many millions of years higher animals and finally humans evolved from very simple amino acids. It is an interesting concept. At the same time it is fascinating to see the explosion of cultural life from about 3000 BC, with languages and writing developing about 1500-1000 BC. This is a time, where biblical tradition already started to develop the stories and narratives which are given to us in the five books of Moses, who might have lived about 1400 BC, plus minus 100 years. Abraham, whos story is described in the first book of Moses, is said to have come from Ur to Kanaan around 1900 BC, plus minus 200 years. In terms of human cultural development, these books are very early in human cultural history, with high probability edited and finally composed many years later during the excile time of the people of Israel 600-500 BC. The critical view into these stories is very late, florishing strongly at about 1970 AD in many western theological seminaries.
What can we say about the existence of God? The experience of both Jewish and Christian believers is that God exists, that he is present through his holy spirit. The Christian message is convinced that God is spirit, that he is beyond time. God is the creator, not the creation. But he does penetrate all creation, and it is possible to talk to him any time, with your voice or silently. It is important to look deeper into the biblical stories. It is important to understand the character of God, who is said to be love, truth, trust and purity. God wants you and me, he wants to be the God and center of our life. The Christian view sees him as the origin, purpose and goal of all what is.
So does God exist? How do you find out? I would say it is good to study the Christian tradition, the New Testament books as well as the Old Testament books. But some study them for decades without finding God. Others hear only a few words, and find him immediately. To find God you do not need to learn many things, but just open your mind and your heart to the words which Jesus spoke, listen and take it serious … (Roland Potthast)