Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The God Gene

Scientists in Germany have isolated the ability of humans to be altruistic with one another as one of the primary differences between ourselves and the great apes. If this ability is the place where we are pre-programmed to seek the highest good possible, it makes us incorrigibly religious—homo orans, the praying man.

Genesis portrays us as the pinnacle of creation, not just last, but strategically balanced between creation and eternity—breath of God, clay of the earth. The King James misleads us moderns with the words, "fill the earth and subdue it." They reflect the last vestiges of a medieval understanding of society which was highly hierarchical, with God at the top and everything below serving the next step higher. A better rendering for today would be "fill the earth and manage it."

Here in we are called to offer creation precisely what it largely cannot offer itself—the call to serve the higher good. It falls to us to manage, to keep as to keep a garden, but not our own garden, though we are sustained by it, but the garden belonging to that higher good.

"Good", "God," one word is the shorter version of the other, as if the first is the particular, the latter is the general. That which is good by definition draws its goodness from God, and in that it partakes of godness, and so we call it good. The priest is the one who stands between the divine and the community of faith. Humanity stands as priest of creation. When we fail we are merely animals.

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