by Ron Holland
I believe GOD, the Creator of our Universe and all that we behold each waking day, has given us the tools, talent and tenacity to ferret through life’s arduous journey. The question is often asked: Does the God of scripture intervene in the affairs of Man?
Theologians and Philosophers have wrestled with this question for hundreds of years, especially as it relates to human suffering and the evil that pervades our world. Does GOD, the Creator of our Universe, violate the laws of physics and interfere with nature to find us a parking space, or hit the lottery, help a football team win a game; nudge a truck from careening into a bus load of church goers; halt a tornado from barreling down on a family huddled in a basement; heal a child from a dreaded disease; or stop a rapist, murderer or child molester; prevent a holocaust, genocide or the enslavement of an entire race of people?
If the God of scripture does intervene in the affairs of Man, especially in the aforementioned situations, it would mean that he’s partial to some people and not others. To say that the God of scripture is sovereign and does what he wants in these circumstances is both disingenuous and sanctimonious. It’s beneath GOD’S character. It contradicts the notion of partiality. We all know there are victims of these tragic events that also called on the God of scripture to intervene and was met with complete and utter silence.
I’ve personally stopped asking if the God of scripture intervenes in the affairs of Man. All of the pain, heartache, despair; sorrow, loss, disappointment; joy, happiness, triumph, peace and serenity that I’ve experienced and witnessed helped me to arrive at this conclusion: GOD, the Creator of our Universe and all that we behold each waking day, has planted deep within our DNA, the molecular structure of our cells, our genetics and the limbic system in the cerebrum of our brain, the tools to navigate life and our physical world.
GOD does not have to peel back the ceiling of our Universe or part the clouds in the sky to find us a parking space or nudge a football to the center of a goal post. To me that cheapens GOD. And in a world full of rich diversity, traditions and need on an unbelievably large scale, I don’t believe that GOD violates the laws of physics or tinker with nature just to play favorites.
What of Prayer? First, prayer is a natural inclination of all human beings. Prayer reminds us that we’re intimately and spiritually connected to the
Creator of ALL of humanity. I don’t embrace the notion that one group or religion has exclusive access to GOD. Life is universally connected and ALL of life is connected to GOD.
Now, our prayer is a manifestation of the physical, emotional, biological, and I dare say, spiritual yearning we have for the Creator. It’s also the interconnectedness we all have to each other. We’re all intricately tied regardless of race, ethnicity, culture and tradition. In fact, all of life – whether it’s a leaf in a tree, a bird on a branch or a newly born star in the distant regions of our solar system, life is the connective tissue that binds us to existence. This too is the genius of GOD.
When you examine prayer beyond its religious implications, there is a physiological consequence to the action. Triggered during prayer is an increase in activity in the Frontal Lobe and decrease of activity in the Parietal Lobe of our brain – which is known as the “god” parts of the brain. This ingenious structure of our body was the gateway in which I believe GOD already “intervened.” At the moment of our creation GOD fashioned and tooled humanity to survive and persevere in this physical existence.
GOD has prepared us to physically, mentally and emotionally survive a world fraught with so many challenges. GOD equipped us to respond to tragedy, turmoil and all of the grief that bedevil mankind. So as we traverse life’s arduous journey, there’s a function in our brain, chemical reactions in our body and other physiological and emotional activity that causes us to act. The regions of the brain – the Amygdala, Hypothalamus, Thalamus and Hippocampus are all activated providing us the physical interconnectedness to address the needs within our prayers. So when someone says GOD answered a prayer, it makes perfect sense because he provided all of us with the tools to address our needs.
What guides a surgeon during an operation on Aunt Nancy are the hands of a trained physician who responded to the human and spiritual interconnectedness that GOD buried deep within all of us. GOD does not have to lean over Heaven’s balcony, disrupt the fine-tuned and precise physics that governs our world to physically intervene during Aunt Nancy’s operation.
Man has tinkered with methods of healing for thousands of years. Although new challenges in the science of healing constantly emerge, GOD endowed our planet with the medicinal properties to relieve pain and aid in healing. From plants to trees to serums from the most unlikely creature dwelling in the Amazon, GOD’S intervention was when our inhospitable planet settled within the habitable zone of our Sun and allowed Earth to be the home of humanity. And, he’s endowed the smartest and most capable among us to explore the depths of knowledge to address our physical needs. So that if Aunt Nancy doesn’t survive the operation, we understand that death is an integral part of life and that the established parameters of life and death have been adhered to.
GOD does not have to part the sky and nudge a tornado to prevent catastrophe. The physics and science that undergirds the structures Man builds to withstand Nature’s fury has been imparted to us by GOD. The laws we create to prevent or give consequence for a violation of human dignity such as rape, molestation, genocide; slavery or holocaust has its genesis in GOD crafting the Limbic System of our brain in such a way that when these tragic events occur, we have the tools to cope with or eradicate these violations.
And it’s helpful to know that death is an integral part of life. Death is the inevitable fate of Man, animal and plant. There’s a biological clock that began winding down the moment we entered this world. The death of stars, planets, galaxies and solar systems has occurred for billions of years. Death has been with us since the moment our Universe came into existence. Death cannot and will not be avoided. Our need for GOD’S physical intervention is rooted in many ways, in our fear of death and the consequences of our personal actions.
In the last few years, I’ve had to grapple with every choice I made as a man, husband and father. I’ve also had to deal with the consequences of my choices. Up until a few years ago, church and being Christian shielded me from my responsibilities. How? Well, when the storms of life arrived, it was either another “test” from the God of scriptures, or satan was fiddling around in my experience. I resorted to scripture, doctrine, dogma and church cliche to help explain the turmoil swirling around me. These religiously inspired explanations inevitably lead to urgent prayer to survive the experience.
I realized in the last few years, that everything sustaining about church was actually detrimental to real spiritual growth and maturity. While I was calling on the God of scripture to save me yet again, I avoided a profound question: WHAT RESPONSIBILITY DO I BEAR IN ALL THAT IS HAPPENING IN MY LIFE? In short, I had to recognize that it was the choices and decisions I was making that brought the storm into my life. It wasn’t another supposed “test” from the God of scripture. The storm wasn’t satan meddling in my life or tempting me yet again. The hell that I was experiencing is and was a result of my decisions. And when the consequences of those decisions knocked on my front door, instead of facing what I did, I attached a religious or spiritual connotation to avoid placing the blame where it actually belonged – on me! And as a result, I sought intervention from the God of scripture.
I wanted the God of scripture to swoop down and rescue me from my bad decisions. And when I begged, pleaded, cried, moaned for the God of scripture to come to my aid; when I beseeched his presence or an audible confirmation that he was hearing me or begged for an Angel to appear or for the sky to crack open and his hand to reach down from Heaven to “Make a Way out of No Way,” I realized that after all of those years in church and all of those bible verses and all of the prayer, the answers were already there – in my hands, my mind, my heart and the decisions and actions that inevitably follows. GOD fashioned my hands and mind to ferret through the challenges of life. I finally realized that my wailing, crying and pleas for the God of scripture to intervene was a very human response to my lack of personal responsibility. I realized that as hard as life can be, it’s much more difficult when we make bad choices.
So now I don’t wait for things to magically happen. I don’t wait for things to occur by osmosis. I don’t conflate the oral tradition and metaphor of an agricultural people who saw the natural occurrence of rain as a blessing – enabling them to grow crops, feed cattle and store grain, with GOD somehow requiring money to prove faithfulness.
I don’t perceive knowledge and reason as a threat to spiritual growth, nor do I think the wisdom of Man is folly to GOD. The Creator has gifted us the ability to think, reason and unravel the mysteries of this world. GOD has proven that neither knowledge or a so-called Tower of Babel threatens his majesty. That is why satellites blanket our planet and technology allows mankind to explore the outer regions of our galaxy, solar system and Universe. Does GOD, the Creator of our Universe and all that we behold each waking day tamper with the physics that govern our world to help find a parking space, nudge a tornado or help a football team win a game? For me the answer is No! But, the genius of GOD is that he’s given humanity the ability and opportunity to accomplish whatever we set our minds and hearts to.
Ron Holland is the host of the Public Affairs show, ‘COMMUNITY VOICES’ on WPZS -100.9 & 92.7 FM, Charlotte. He’s also a Producer and Board Operator for WOSF – Old School 105.3 FM. Ron is also a Production Assistant with all three stations. Any thoughts on this week’s commentary send Ron an email: email@example.com