Garth A. Rattray, Contributor
EASTER ALWAYS enhances my religious/spiritual mood. I have been thinking recently that nothing is wrong with religion, but plenty is wrong with the way that many people chose to interpret and act upon their religion.
I must confess that I do not always take the Bible literally. I believe that the recording of divinely inspired 'words' and of events may certainly have been warped in the translation of ancient scripts, altered by the early 'Holy Fathers' or buried in profound anecdotes. What I seek is the message behind the stories.
For instance, the story of (a disobedient) Jonah being swallowed up by a whale and transported back to Nineveh (to complete God's mission for him) is hard to swallow (pardon the pun). Of course, people will say that all things are possible with God. However, I have always doubted that God had a habit of breaking his own immutable laws. There is and never has been any whale or large fish of any kind that could swallow a man whole and keep him alive for three days and three nights in its belly before vomiting him out on shore safe and sound.
This, therefore, begs the questions: Was it a submarine of some kind? Was it a miracle of some kind? Or was it something else entirely different and explainable? There is a school of thought that asserts that when Jonah was thrown overboard, he was (very fortunately) saved by another vessel. The vessel was navigating by the stars (as was the custom) and it was taking Jonah to Nineveh by sailing towards a constellation named 'the whale'. It was said that sailors sailed "into the belly of the whale" whenever they steered their vessels straight towards the midsection of that constellation.
I find nothing wrong with that explanation; it is still an amazing and compelling story of God's Word made manifest and of His power. The explanation that a boat sailing "into the belly of the whale" saved Jonah's life and took him back to complete his mission sits just fine with me.
Regarding the New Testament, I believe that one of the reasons that Jesus the Christ performed miracles was to get people to take notice and see the power of God at work. Christianity still uses the allure, wonderment and awe of miracles to save souls, but this may have a distinct downside for some followers. I am not going to deny that miracles still occur today. I have two (scientifically) documented cases of untreated cancers that inexplicably disappeared and never returned. However, naturally, most ardent believers virtually expect that God will work a miracle or two for them or for their loved ones when adversity, sickness and/or death stalk. This brings with it the risk that their faith will be shaken if no miracle is performed.
But, I don't need miracles to be impressed. I see/perceive the power of God in everything around me. I, therefore, can't understand why many devout believers have a hard time believing in the science behind 'creation' and evolution; in my opinion, science is the greatest proof of the existence of God.
When science gets down to the smallest particle imaginable, at the subatomic level, the ultimate question is always, 'How?' When science gets up to the largest expanse imaginable, to the limitless Universe, the ultimate question is always, 'How?' The answers lie with the power of God. Our conception (formation) is a miracle, our ability to think, breathe, move, feel and even sleep are all miracles to me.
Too many people spend too much time praying for and waiting for miracles in their lives when the greatest miracle of all is that life is in us and all around us.
Garth A. Rattray is a medical practitioner. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com