Monday, February 16, 2015

Gallileo's birthday, trust, and freedom.

It strikes me sometimes how many of us approach religion from a sense of exclusion, fear, and guilt, when we're clearly taught, over and over, that we're meant to live in inclusion, trust, and freedom. I mean, how many times in the bible does some sort of heavenly presence (God, angel, etc.) reveal itself to a human (Moses, Mary, etc.) and its very first words are, "Fear not"? Because the human is afraid.

We are meant to trust God entirely, and we're meant to love each other, entirely, without exception. That's pretty much it. Instead we divide ourselves into groups and argue over minutiae, and that comes from fear, not trust. From hate, not love.

Today is Gallileo's birthday. In the early 17th century, armed with the newly-invented telescope and a brilliant mathematical mind, Gallileo discovered that the Earth and other planets revolved around the sun. Before that, everyone had assumed that since the earth was the ultimate form of God's creation, everything in the universe must revolve around it.

At the time, nearly all Christians were Roman Catholic. The Pope denounced Gallileo as a heretic and threw him in jail for 9 years, only releasing him when Gallileo recanted.

Nowdays, of course, we have no problem with the idea that the earth moves around the sun. Indeed, I would say that the majority of people understand and believe that the sun is only one of a countless number of stars in a universe far vaster and more complicated than 17th-century humans ever imagined. It is, in fact, more wonderful.

This illustrates why I get so frustrated with Christians that attempt to put God in a box. Why did the pope denounce Gallileo? Fear. The idea went that if Christians came to believe that the earth revolved around the sun, they would cease to believe that God created the Earth. The newly discovered truth would uproot Christianity.

It actually did no such thing. The idea that the universe was bigger and more complicated than just the Earth didn't seem to diminish anyone's belief in God.

Gallileo himself said, "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, has intended us to forgo their use."

Someone that goes with "Fear not!" I can see it. Can you?