15th Sunday 2005
You may have read in yesterday’s Times a headline story on a Cardinal from Vienna saying that the theory of evolution may not be compatible with the Church’s teaching about the origin of life. I could imagine that this commentary caused much groaning among Catholic scientists and many in the Catholic population as well.
You may also have seen a recent cartoon with a person advocating the theory of Intelligent design in the Universe with an oversized mosquito ready to attack him.
I am not a scientist and I am not qualified to enter into an argument about Darwinian evolution. But I have been bitten by a good number of mosquitos this past week while on vacation. And I do wonder if there is intelligent design in the Universe, why mosquitos? What purpose do they serve except to carry disease and torture the rest of the animal kingdom. Can anything good come from a mosquito?
And what about slugs? This past week on vacation I wasn’t a sower but I was a planter. Not seeds but annuals. I was trying to create an intelligent design in a small garden. Unlike the sower in the parable Jesus tells, my gardening was very intentional. I wasn’t just scattering the seed and letting them fall where they may. I was working the soil making it ready to receive. (I wonder if the parable of the sower supports the theory of evolution more than intelligent design. After all the sower just starts the whole thing off and it really is survival of the fittest.)
So, I’ve planted this garden and I’m very pleased with its order and beauty. I water it, pray for sunshine (that prayer wasn’t answered) And hope and pray that these new plants will take root in the soil. That they will yield a hundredfold of summer flowers. The next day, I come out to inspect how the Garden is growing and notice that the marguerite daisy petals have been eaten away. And then I see them, the slugs. The slugs must have something for daisies because they are the only flower that is being devoured. And I do wonder if there is an intelligent design in the universe, why slugs? What purpose do they serve?
Mosquitos and slugs? Where is the intelligent design in that. And yet I wonder if the harm that they do can possible compare with the harm that human beings inflict on each other, often with divine justification? The London bombings being only one example. If there is “intelligent design” in the universe why create human beings who would be capable of such evil and atrocity against other human beings? And why would the intelligent designer allow “the word of God” to be interpreted in a way that justifies such violence?
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even now! The events of this past week in the wide world or in the narrow strip of garden that I tried to design, have led me to meditate on this verse from St. Paul. This creation, ultimately God’s design, is so much mystery. The mystery of life itself. This creation, this world has a life of itself. As much as we strive to find reasons and explanations, philosophies and theologies that give order to the chaos, we live at the center of mystery. And will we have the humility to surrender our certainties and say we just don’t know. We don’t know why things are the way they are. We will continue to wonder and remain open to the possibilities that this creation and its creator offers.
Yesterday on my final day of vacation when the sun finally came back out, I was lying down outside and looking up at a vividly blue sky, white puffy clouds, green leaved trees and a bird soaring through the air. And all I could feel was a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty of this world.