The influence of gaslight or electric light on the growth of paraheliotropic trees

bonebrushing the edges of the res interna (upper transcend)

Category: religiosities

Darwin and Religion

“A man regarded in 2009 as an avatar of atheism had originally intended to become a clergyman and, even after he had fallen away from any semblance of Anglican orthodoxy, agreed with the Reverend Charles Kingsley and the Reverend William Whewell, master of Trinity College, Cambridge, that it was just as ‘noble’ a conception of God that he worked through divinely instituted natural laws as that he used his powers directly to create each species. Four years after the Origin appeared, Kingsley wrote that ‘God’s greatness, goodness and perpetual care I never understood as I have since I became a convert to Mr Darwin’s views.’ Darwin insisted that he saw no good reason why evolution by natural selection ‘should shock the religious feelings of anyone’. Nor do those now using Darwin to power up secularism have much time for the historical figure whose funeral at Westminster Abbey was the occasion for the archdeacon to praise Darwin for having read ‘many hitherto undeciphered lines in God’s great epic of the universe’. Disbelief, Darwin wrote, eventually ‘crept over’ him, but that disbelief is less accurately categorised as atheism than as an unstable mix of agnosticism and a robust form of deism not uncommon among clerics of the Victorian Church of England. Even in America, many late 19th-century Protestant theologians had no great problem reconciling evolution with a rational and purified Christianity. (The strong assimilation of human beings and their mental capacities to the animal model was a sticking point for many – but then it still is.) Nor was biblical fundamentalism nearly as much a feature of Victorian opposition to Darwin as it is of the early 21st century. There are almost certainly more ‘young earth creationists’ – those claiming that the world was created in exactly six 24-hour days somewhere between 5700 and 10,000 years ago – among the educated and semi-educated classes now than there were in Darwin’s time.”

Of course, the fact that we are animals does not mean that we are only animals. Just as ants communicating with pheromones emerge into some strange thing called community, so too individual humans, with their community of mind and probability-calculators and metalevel-thinking might be something more.

Additionally, one is reminded of Peter Altenberg, who famously said, in answer to a paramour’s critique that he was only interested in her sexually, “what’s so only?”



The dance of bliss

Sitting on the slope of the Mann Music Center in the Summer of 2001

It was the summer of 2001, the summer after my first year of college. Six months earlier I had driven down to Baltimore with my new friend J to see the String Cheese Incident play a gym. The music was complicated — Jay said “try to listen to each instrument.” It was all new to my ears.

Phish, leaders of the scene, was newly on hiatus. Trey Anastasio, lead singer, lead guitarist, musical genius, was playing with his new band at the Mann Music Center, in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. It was a beautiful day. I was there with friends and aquaintances from high school — they tried to buy mushrooms beforehand and I had a gooball. Goofball. The mushrooms didn’t work but the gooball did.

I remember still sitting there on the grassly slope, surrounded by people, staring at the stage and listening to the music. This is our religious experience, I thought, this is our temple, sitting there, with friends and strangers.

So much of my life was ahead of me. Surprises — joys and tragedies. Deaths, war, and love, and journeys and new friends and old friends. I sat there, listening to Trey Anastasio play guitar for the first time ever (first time for me, first time in the historys of the universe that I had heard such a thing).

We are here to witness. We are here to participate. Times moves on, like a song, without any regard to any attempts to slow it down — but we are here. Our presence does not go unnoticed. While God may be silent, gone, or absent, there are others in this world and we can see ourselves reflected in their eyes — we give each other meaning — we give each other love — we are very small, we are, we are so fragile, so fragile, and our time together is brief, so brief. We are unique and beautiful. The songs we sing linger in the air — the lives we touch are touched and are forever changed — though our names will be forgotten, and our minds and egos and lives will blow away like the wishes of a dry dandelion, we are a part of this thing — liquid screens may fool us, and artists make up tales (shadows of shadows) but the sun burning shines on us. It is real. Our love is real. The world is real and sad and painful but joyous and every day is another day another opportunity to listen to the music and sing along to feel connected to go home to love to tell someone you love them to thank them to be thankful to journey home. I sat there watching Trey, surrounded, surrounded by strangers, happy strangers, and the drug was a mild one, smoothing the ridges easing the pains and I felt joy and I felt happy and between then and now there has been darkness and love but I can still feel joy I can still be happy and I am happy no matter what the winter comes and the winter passes and spring comes and summer and long days will return long days will return and Phish returns and Phish returns — and I return to some leaf covered road and —