Every Day is Earth Day

If we need one day a year to remind us to treat it with respect, veneration even, so be it.  It doesn’t do any harm to celebrate “Earth Day.” But more appropriately every citizen of the planet would be aware of this every day. The Earth is our shared temple.

I’ve been getting some flack for taking on “religion” as a blog subject. “Religion is divisive,” I was reminded. It certainly can be, but I can’t help but feel if more people of analytical bent tackled the subject, and discussion became freer and less charged, it would be less divisive, and possibly even unifying. Respect for other people’s views — religious and otherwise — is as sacrosanct as respect for the Earth.

Besides, as a writer, I can’t help but write about things that interest me, and religion is pretty darn interesting. It presents what is universally considered the big questions: Why are we here? What happens when we’re not? As a reporter, I have a burning curiosity to get to the bottom of this. As a writer, I can’t help but be impressed that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time (The Bible Society estimates more than five billion copies sold since 1815).

Besides, religion isn’t divisive for me. I relish hearing all views, especially those that aren’t strictly aligned with mine, because to be challenged to think of something differently is a lot more interesting than simply being validated, which amounts to inertia. It takes courage to challenge ideas (some ideas more, some less), and I think people should be encouraged to speak out on all topics, rather than discouraged.

I believe that in communities where prejudice is

“Put your religious posts under “science,” the friend urged. In some cases that would certainly be fine, but there are other sociological aspects that wouldn’t really have a place there. It’d be a stretch to write about Pope Francis and file him under “science.”

But there is certainly a scientific component to religion, particularly for those of us who see nature as an expression of a Einstein himself said “I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are details.” Einstein, like Spinoza, did not believe in a God concerned with quotidian affairs — the fates and actions of human beings. They believed in a God that reveals itself in “the orderly harmony of what exists.”

Though atheists like to claim Einstein and Spinoza as one of their own, such clearly was not the case. Spinoza proclaimed himself a pantheist — one who believes God and nature are one in the same. While Einstein was not averse to quoting Spinoza, he stopped short of a wholehearted embrace of hte earlier thinker’s religious worldview. Spinoza (a Dutch philosopher of Sephardi/Portuguese origin, 1632-1677) predated by more than 250 years the influential German theoretical physicist (1879-1955), who was raised in a Jewish household but enrolled in a Catholic elementary school.

In an interview published in George Sylvester Viereck’s book Glimpses of the Great (1930), Einstein addressed his attitude toward pantheism, explaining: “Your question is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza’s pantheism, but admire even more his contribution to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and body as one, and not two separate things.


So I’ll keep blogging about religion, although possibly the next post will be tagged for biology.