The Music of the Spheres

I saw an article on the behavior of dew drops on leaves.

It seems so very simple.  My short interpretation is that the dew drop seeks a state of rest, which sends the dew to the tip of a leaf, even if doing so defies gravity.  Such a tiny little natural phenomenon creates such spectacular beauty in a meadow on a cool morning.

If I’m being honest, it’s thoughts like that which keep me agnostic.  The majestic beauty of nature in uncountable ways, from the vastness of space and the stars, planets, nebulae, comets, to simple dewdrops upon a field of grass or upon a spiderweb.

While there is no doubt in my mind that any god that might exist is not YHWH or Jesus, I could ponder an intelligence behind the beauty of the universe.

To an extent.

Here is where a Christian would extrapolate the idea of such beauty into a discussion of such symmetry requiring a designer – The way nature works to create such majesty can only come from the mind of an intelligent, all-powerful designer.

I believed that at one time, without reservation.

But like so many of those types of conversations, they’re really not comprehensive.  Because nature, while it contains so much beauty, also contains a significant, possibly equal, possibly greater amount of ugliness, horror, pain, and suffering.

Nature is vicious, merciless, and indiscriminate.

On the beach in Hawai’i an ocean wave crests and crashes onto the narrow beach, washing over the feet of two lovers walking hand-in-hand.

On Christmas eve, 2004, an ocean wave ravages across the Indian Ocean, killing 240,000 people in one chilling day.

The wonder of cell division is a basic and necessary factor in the propagation of all life on earth.

The wonder of cell division becomes a horror as a simple genetic switch is shut off, allowing uncontrolled mitosis, and loved one dies of cancer.

Warm and cold air swirl together in the desert, creating an impudent little dust devil.

Warm and cold air swirl together high over the midwest, creating a massive tornado that decimates a city in Missouri.

A breeze drifts across a meadow, bending the plants and the flowers, dusting the field with the next generation of green and gold beauty.

A breeze becomes a mighty wind over the ocean, swirling into a hurricane that devastates a coastal city.

A herd of gazelle bound across the Serengeti in beauty and grace.

One gazelle is not fast enough, and dies brutally as it is taken down and eaten by predators.

The insect world is infinitely beautiful – think of the fireflies as they dance and light up the trees at dusk in the deep south.

The insect world is infinitely deadly – think of the Latin American Kissing Bug, which has a cute name, but whose bite can transmit the devastating and incurable Chagas disease.

An egg is fertilized, cells divide and divide until one day a little baby is born.  His mother names him Martin Luther King, Jr.

An egg is fertilized, cells divide and divide until one day a little baby is born.  His mother names him Adolf Hitler.

Nuclear fusion brings us sunlight.

It also brings us the hydrogen bomb.

Things of beauty in this world can hide untold horrors, and I would venture the opposite is sometimes true.  In the same hospital where a baby’s birth brings tears of joy, a loved one’s death brings tears of bitter grief.  The supernova that lights up a telescope viewing from millions of light years away may have destroyed a planet buzzing with life – sure, not instantaneously, but as part of the process.  The Lion King may have tried to dress it up anyway Disney could, but the Circle of Life is ferocious and knows no boundaries.

Christianity tries to explain the beauty of nature as evidence of God’s wondrous design.  Christians also try to explain the horror.  Some say that all pain and death is caused by Adam’s sin, and that no pain or death existed before that point.

Scientifically, of course, that’s patently ridiculous.  I actually had a person from the Institute for Creation Resarch tell me that the teeth of the lion were ideally designed for — wait for it — eating melons.  There is an entire mind-twisting rationalization for the existence of clearly carnivorous species in a perfect, deathless perfection.

But one only has to look around, look through the beauty and see that the beauty and the pain are elements of one thing – survival.  All of these things are just what you would expect in a complex ecosphere where every lifeform is grappling for survival.

Enjoy the beauty, revel in it, but never lose sight that just under the surface, nature is an untamed and sometimes vicious beast.

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3 thoughts on “The Music of the Spheres

  1. The relative balance of the universe does not, IMO, preclude “intelligent” design. That said, I believe most “spiritual” minds haven’t fathomed the beginning of the universe or its lifespan, and that makes it easy for mythological misunderstanding to creep in and settle them in the comfy Genesis interpretation.

  2. Even destruction is beautiful. The Hindis know that.

    Intelligent design is precluded by being entirely unnecessary to understanding the world and our place in it. We’re just jumped-up apes who happened at random in a universe that is itself fundamentally random. The rest is just illusion.

  3. I don’t know if I like the label “illusion,” though, IIRC, that’s a specific coined philosophical term (?) The rest is rather our self-conscious application of value on life, community, our environment, etc. I don’t think that’s illusion. However, I do think it’s, well, arbitrary. It is certainly made up, but not out of whole cloth, rather out of the evolved mutuality we’ve developed over millenia.

    It’s up to us to recognize that we have created the sense of value we have for others, for life, and for things we find beautiful. That those things are arbitrary and not necessarily fixed for every person – though I’d argue very similar.

    I’m just rambling now – I find aspects of death and nature ugly because I value life so much – yet I find death also to be a beautiful, poignant aspect of being alive. What value life if not viewed through the inevitability of death?

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