It’s funny sometimes how science moves forward. Percy Spencer, an engineer working on radar, noticed that the chocolate bar in his lab coat kept melting when he turned on the radar unit … out of that discovery came the microwave oven. Alexander Fleming, while rummaging around through the dirty glassware in the sink in his laboratory, noticed remnants of a bacterial slime they were studying all over certain dirty Petri dishes but not on other dishes … that keen observation led to the discovery of penicillin. Last summer, a gardener misplaced a watering house around the tourist trap known as Stonehenge … from that mistake came a whole new understanding of the design and “purpose” of Stonehenge.
Things like Stonehenge fascinate me. They reveal a very distinct characteristic of that species we call “us”. Homo sapiens have many distinctive characteristics, such as the fact that we’re problem-solvers, tool-makers, and use a complex language. But another one of our clearly demonstrable intrinsic characteristics is an inner belief that “there’s something bigger out there”: a Great Being of some kind. If you look across all societies today, all around the globe, the seven billion people that live on the face of our planet today, the vast majority of them believe in some ‘Great Being’. The first stones at Stonehenge were put in place around 3000 BC, long before anyone had written any of the books that now make up the Bible (or the Koran, the Bagavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, or any other such sacred texts for that matter). Just about everyone agrees it was built for some kind of religious purpose. Clearly these people sensed some kind of “Great Being” out there. And there’s a mountain of paleontological and archaeological evidence going back thousands of years telling us that mankind all through the past had this same intrinsic drive towards some kind of belief: I remember coming across a scientific paper that talked about bones that were dated to 25,000 years ago which had been buried with little statues, apparently of their gods. We even have evidence that Neanderthals (our genetic cousins) had a sense of the after-life because they also buried their dead with tools and weapons.
For as far as we can see around us and as far as we can look back, humans as a species have always been in search of God. We have always been searching in the best way that we could: can anyone fault some of them for coming up with a different understanding of God than we did?
What do you make of this kind of stuff? Does it make you adjust your thinking on how people relate to God, and/or how God relates to people? Should we be so arrogant that we have the only correct view on God? The apostle Paul didn’t condemn the Greeks who put up a statue “To the unknown God” (Acts 17:23) … should we be any more judgmental of people who likewise recognize some “Great Being” but their faith looks quite different than ours? What do you think?