Basic Questions Old and New

In the Womb
In the Womb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

Wendy, Suzanna and I have been watching the new science fiction show Almost Human this year. While it’s not the greatest television show in the world, it is certainly one of the most unique. The basic premise of the show is that in the future technology will allow us to create human-like androids that can be used as police officers, soldiers, prostitutes, and etc. The android robots are almost human, and scientists in this future world are struggling with how to give these androids a human-like soul and emotions. Previous experiments to do so failed in disastrous ways forcing the extermination of the effort and the androids that were created from it.

Wendy and I have found the theological and spiritual issues/questions underlying the show fascinating. At the heart of it are questions about what it means to be human (and inhuman). Our conversations about the show lead me back to the beginning. They’ve led me back to the oldest, most foundational stories of humanity. Hidden in the temptation of Eden’s forbidden fruit was the desire to become God ourselves and supplant the will of our Creator and our accountability to Him. As our human technology builds Babel-like towards the mysteries of the heavens I see at the pinnacle of our current Tower’s blue-print the desire to wrestle the power of Life and Death away from God and to create and control Life ourselves. Cloning, medicine, cryogenics, robotics, genetics, and countless other areas of study are expanding into these basic, foundational questions about human life.

David’s lyrics in Psalm 139 are both beautiful and absolutely relevant to this conversation. David’s song leads me to ask if God is part of the equation in all of these foundational questions, or if we have successfully eaten the forbidden fruit and have ourselves become god without need or accountability to our Creator. If there is divine purpose in conception, if our days are ordained and the knitting together of the human soul is a mystery beyond human technology to replicate, then will our desire to harness, control and disseminate it like gods have disastrous spiritual consequences? I fear we will find our current technological and scientific pursuits will simply lead us back at the locked gate east of Eden and/or to the rubble of Babel.

These are the questions that have most plagued me with the issue of abortion (Please note: I am asking spiritual questions, NOT making political statements!). Science and technology push further and further into saving one mother’s prematurely born baby while at the same time medical science helps another mother discard an unwanted baby in her womb. In some cases the aborted life in the latter example was at a later stage of development than baby whom science saved in the former example. The common denominators between the two scenarios are the ability of medical science to save life or end it, and the will of the mother to choose which it will be. Setting the fate of the unborn aside, I wonder if we have unwittingly done long term spiritual harm to mothers in whom we’ve placed the power and responsibility to choose life or death.

I am increasingly concerned that science and technology are progressing faster than we can capably wrestle with the spiritual and sociological questions emerging from them. I believe these basic questions and conversations about who we are in relation to God, ourselves, each other, and the world around us are critical. I hear and perceive the sentiments of many who consider God a foolish myth and who place their faith in the limitless capacity and progression of human science and technology. Deep in my spirit, however, my soul echoes David’s lyrics and the notion that God the Creator is still very much involved in the ongoing acts and works of creation. No matter how far human knowledge and ability progresses, I suspect there will always be infinite mysteries “too lofty for me to attain” and I never want to lose sight of that nor disrespect it.

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5 thoughts on “Basic Questions Old and New”

  1. I love this post, Tom. It’s easy to jump in and say we have an answer to these types of modern dilemmas and to slap labels on issues we think are black and white. But the best way to approach topics such as these is to first admit we don’t have all the answers and then to move toward potential answers by asking valid questions.
    The part of your post where you describe science and human progression as limitless, I can’t quite agree with. On one hand, historical observation seems to evidence mankind’s inclination to decline at a faster rate than it progresses. But more on my mind is a mathematical concept wherein a subject moves toward an object at a repeated rate of 50% of the distance with each step. Basically, A gets halfway to B with each step, but never actually arrives. I think science is much like that. For evey problem we solve, at least one more arises in its place. For eveh advancement we make, we discover a whole new set of obstacles to overcome or questikns which need answers. We are ever advancing, but never arriving. For the sake of argument, perhaps this is the definition of limitless, but I’m inclined to think it’s more the ultimate limitation: to never reach perfection.

    1. Nice thoughts. Please understand that the idea of human progression as limitless is simply my reporting of what I have read and heard others saying. There is a world view out there that would say that there are no limits on what we humans can achieve in and of ourselves. I can’t personally believe that. I agree with you, and with what I read in God’s Message, that perfection is not something attainable in the human condition.

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