Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Atheist and the Bear

An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that the evolution had created. "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!", he said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing.

He ran even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pumping frantically and he tried to run even faster. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant the Atheist cried out "Oh my God!...."
Time stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.
Even the river stopped moving.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, "You deny my existence for all of these years; teach others I don't exist; and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"

The atheist looked directly into the light "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as Christian now, but perhaps could you make the bear a Christian?"

"Very well," said the voice.
The light went out.
The river ran again.
And the sounds of the forest resumed.
And then the bear dropped his right paw ..... brought both paws together...bowed his head and spoke:

"Bless us, Oh Lord,
and these thy gifts which
we are about to receive from thy bounty,
through Christ, Our Lord....AMEN!"

I love that joke!! Moreover, it fits in to this entry!! Yet again, Father Roderick has managed to grab my attention by the throat. In Daily Breakfast 479 - There’s an Alien in My Church!, the Good Father speaks of a press release from the Vatican pertaining to SETI and the church which says that Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God.

I am reminded of the time before I was even seriously dating the wonderful woman who would eventually become my wife, when I would spend hours outside at night, staring up at the stars, trying to catch glimpses of meteorites, bollides and solar flares. Much like the atheist in the joke, I would sit there in the sand plains of South Carolina marveling at
the great expanse of space with nary a thought as to how it got to be. One night though, it occurred to me though, that all..... this had to have started somewhere, right? But what was there before? Where do black holes lead to? It all of a sudden became very clear to me that the design of the Universe had the fingerprint of the divine upon it. I didn't exactly believe in God per se at that time; I had been an Odinist previously, and had just advanced to the Universalist theory (God is God, it doesn't matter what you call him/her) but I knew, I just knew it was all Gods doing. I may get in trouble for doing this, but I'm going to post the Friday, November 14th2003 Devotion from Living Faith by Aileen O'Donoghue, because it goes so well with the Story Father Roderick was relating.

God Is Greater Than The Cosmos
.......They seek God and wish to find him. Wisdom 13:6

Do those seeking God in nature not find God, or is the God they find not the one they learned about in church? In packaging God for classrooms, picture books, and dashboard medallions, have we believers inadvertently made God smaller and less mysterious than the universe? I live in a particularly large universe, since my work involves studying galaxies a billion light years away. This means the light I analyze has been traveling across the emptiness of space since before life on earth evolved past algae blooms. the God I find in this universe is much vaster and weirder than the one presented in the typical homily. I suspect that the God of the homilists and the listeners know in their hearts is also vaster and weirder than words usually express. Perhaps we need to learn to speak from the depths of our hearts so seekers will see that the God we worship in church is not only larger than picture books and dashboard medallions, but larger than the universe.

Aileen O'Donoghue is associate professor of physics at Saint Lawrence University in Canton, New York

In closing, I'll simply quote the Jodie Foster movie "Contact"

Ellie Arroway: Dad, do you think there's people on other planets?
Ted Arroway: I don't know, Sparks. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space.

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