We spent endless hours in deep theological thought and conversation. There were three of us - Joe McGarr, Lee Keenan, and me — the conversations spanned almost seven years.
Four of the years, 1978 through 1982 were during our seminary days, the remainder while we were still living in the same region. The three lingering questions were these: are we as humans predestined, why do so many suffer and die from preventable tragedy, and the most difficult question - who or what is God.
The one with particularly intense intelligence would often end our discussions with these words of wisdom - “until humans are intelligent enough, wise enough, and willing to accept that perhaps there is a way of knowing the answers to these questions - we’ll just continue to repeat the same mistakes over-and-over again.” Joe, during this particular session continued - “until the church - particularly ours, begins religious dialog using twenty-first century science, real history, and reality - these answers will remain at arm’s length.”
Much water has passed under the bridge of life since 1986 - both Joe and Lee are with One. I believe that they both would agree that two of our three “debated” questions have been resolved: humanity is not “predestined”, and “we” are the reason for war, starvation, continuing disease and tragedy. Still there are those who blindly refute science, history, and the truth of reality - accepting answers predicated on little reality, the absence of science, and embracing “repurposed” history.
To accept or believe each member of the human family is predestined is to ignore the reality of life and logic. One cannot possibly believe in the process of “freedom of will” and also accept as reality the theory of predestination - the literate mind reveals one cancels the other. If one accepts the theological preposition that “God directs all life prior to its beginning and mandates its end” - then one must accept that God alone is responsible for the death of 22,000 children each day - death from starvation, preventable disease, and war - I reject that connection.
Theology, no matter the religious house - teaches us that “sin” is evil, and that “evil” is external to us - that evil and sin are forced into human life because of a struggle between good and bad - “God” and “Satan”. I can understand the development of that theological “dogmatic fact” since it was developed tens of thousands of years ago and considering those who developed those theological necessities knew no science, recorded little if any history - and accepted that the earth was flat and the known universe rotated around the earth. Hmmm - that should give us a clue to theological validity. Sin is a human concept, its origin and nature embraced in our life since we first climbed down from the trees.
With predestination behind us, and any thought of this worlds trauma caused by “Satan” dispelled - the one remaining question is who or what is God? For me - the wonder of the Cosmos gives witness to a creative force that we’ll never fully comprehend – this creative force is “one” with everything. Nothing that “is” will ever cease to be, everything simply changes - all matter once separate returns to the absolute unity with One. We and all creation are the “stuff of stars”.