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Gravity and the Elephant

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Surely everybody knows what gravity is. Then again, given that 20% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, maybe everybody doesn't know about gravity. After all, before an apple allegedly activated Newton's noggin, gravity had no name.

Gravity is so common that we take it for granted. Gravity is why we go down if we jump off the Empire State building. Mother earth is not going to let us fly off into outer space.

Yet as commonplace as gravity is, not even the keenest physicists claim to understand the complexity of the force of gravity. In short, despite incredibly complex models and theories, no one really knows why gravity works.

Readily admitted that we know a good bit about the properties and effects of gravity. All of this understanding has come as the fruit borne of the scientific process. Above all, scientific inquiry seeks truth for the sake of knowing the truth. Science must objectively investigate without attachment to what will be found. Likewise, science must be willing to completely abandon whatever does not work. This includes useless beliefs and practices. Good science must be totally open minded and always be willing to incorporate new evidence. Even with something as ordinary as gravity, science goes to extraordinary lengths to see gravity for what it is, as it is, as opposed to useless conceptualization and speculation.

Now, if open-minded, objective, rational scientists have yet to adequately comprehend natural gravity, how much more difficult is it for close-minded know-it-alls to comprehend so well the will of supernatural God? A classical story from India always comes to mind.

Once blind men encountered their first elephant, of which they knew nothing. One felt a leg and declared that it was like a tree.

"Liar," declared another at the elephant's ear. "It is like a giant palm leaf."

"Fool," cried the one feeling the trunk. "It is like a giant snake."

"Idiot, it is a small snake," shouted the blind man who was handling the tail.

That's the way it seems a lot of the time when it comes to religion. People fighting over their beliefs about a Supreme Intelligence are about as attractive as a barroom brawl sparked by idiots fussing over a subject upon which none of them know a thing. Then again, you would think that people who claim to know so much about God would have enough sense not to have inflicted far more violence and mayhem than all the barroom brawls combined. Far more people have died at the hands of the powerful invoking the name of the Almighty than by barroom drunks merely provoking.

The great irony is that with the founders of all the major religions, they were all such open-minded seekers of the truth. And at the heart of their findings, they all reported that approach and attitude is all important. First hand experience matters, not blindly following an institution. To paraphrase Jesus, religion was made for us and not us for religion.

To varying degrees all institutionalized religions claim to know the absolute and eternal truth. They might very well know the grand truth of truths. All I know is that for a truth to be both absolute and eternal that truth must constantly prove itself correct with every last situation that arises in every era and environs. Anything less and it fails to meet the standards for being absolute and eternal.

Nothing science has ever found has caused me to reject Jesus' message of compassion, justice and love as the sanest course of action. Admittedly, science has caused me to realize that they are factual errors in the Bible, but not with the message of Jesus. The world does not literally have four corners and the sun does not revolve around the earth. But it is still true that people are going to treat you the way that you treat them. The mercy you show will become the mercy you are shown. The truth does set you free.

Any religion or belief system that cannot successfully incorporate new evidence within its system is not manifesting absolute and eternal truth. When organized religion refuses to hear anything but its own beliefs then it essentially declares that God can be only the way it conceives or else God cannot be at all.

Instead of fighting like blind men over an elephant, we need to be at least as respectful and considerate as scientists searching for the truth. Then if we could add a measure of good cheer and friendliness, we might even have a nice day. Who knows? Without fighting like idiots over God and our precious opinions, who knows what we could accomplish if we actually tried to get along?

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B. 1952, GA, USA. D. To Be Determined. Beloved husband, father, grandfather, lover, confidant and friend of many from bikers to Zen masters; American writer and speaker, known for his criticism of Mammon's unholy trinity of big business, big (more...)
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