Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The World is not Flat!

There once was a time that people believed the Earth was flat. It was a major paradigm shift when people began to think that the Earth was round. Now with satellite pictures from space, the evidence is incontrovertible that the Earth is round. However advanced our modern technology is, there are other outmoded beliefs that have not yet been supplanted by more evolved understanding.

We still believe there is such a thing as race. We still think that war can bring peace. We still believe that an eye for an eye is just. We still think that life may not start at conception. We still believe that things are either nature or nurture and not a combination of both. The list goes on and on and there are people on both sides of the arguments making valid points.

The other day I had a conversation with one of my brothers. We were complaining about ants, mosquitoes, and pollen. These are issues everyone in the South can relate to. Somehow the conversation turned to whether insects and trees have feelings. My brother argued that only people had feelings because only people had souls and only people have free will. He later extended his claim to include some other animals.

I suggested that perhaps anything with life has a soul. I said that anything that lives and dies has a soul. I added that if something can defend itself it should count as a sentient being. Then I decided to polarize the discussion further by suggesting that even inanimate objects have souls. I said that the motorcycle contained the spirit of the horse. I said that the airplane had the spirit of the bird. My brother politely disagreed.

As I went further out to the extreme, I began to consider bigger things. I asked my brother if he believed that the Earth itself had a consciousness, had feelings, free will, and a soul. He said no. I asked, "Why not? The Earth had a birth and eventually will die. It breathes through its seasons. It defends itself in many ways. It certainly seems to have moods. Why not?"

While my brother seemed to find interest in my theory, he still did not agree. I followed this conversation up with some friends with nearly the same results. People believe their pets have souls because they have observed their emotions. But anything that does not emote in a manner similar to humans (tears, smiles, facial expressions) is not thought of as having a soul.

It fascinates me that people can be so egocentric. It is as if we believe we are separate and better than the rest of nature. Even when I provide examples of plants showing emotion and free will (e.g., drooping leaves or flower petals, bending and stretching to go toward sunlight, and responding to human touch, human voices, and music), people reject the notion that they are the same as us.

It also fascinates me that people can be so self-contradictory. The very same people who would deny that a car has a soul, have given their cars names and talk to them, and they talk about them as though they have emotions and free will (e.g., "She just doesn't like to start in the cold. She hates it when I accelerate too fast.").

If God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, then God must be everywhere, influencing everything, and knowing everything all the time. If God is in all things then all things have spirit.

I am not suggesting that we should start praying to rocks. I am merely suggesting that we should re-examine our beliefs about the world around us. Perhaps we would have more respect for nature if we acted like we saw God in all things. Perhaps we would have more love for ourselves if we could see our divine spark.


1 comment:

  1. Anthropomorphism in a nut shell.