Saturday, August 27, 2005

Origins

The other night at bedtime my daughter asked how people started having babies. She is only six, but her mom is a midwife, so she did not mean the obvious mechanical question. No, she wanted to know how anyone had the first baby if no parents had been born. I'll admit, I ducked the question. It was bedtime and was trying to get her to sleep. But you would think that two years of seminary might give me a better answer.

Either something came from nothing or something has always existed. I'm sure I will give her an appropriately vague UU sounding answer. She really likes The Everything Seed. Apparently six year olds are comfortable with a vocabulary of reverence.

2 Comments:

At 1:55 PM, Blogger erdmond said...

There's an AMAZING trilogy of books that might fill the need. We have the middle one, and my almost-8yo loves it. From Lava to Life.

Its the story of the creation of the universe/planet/our biosphere...told in the first person (great illustrations & engaging 'voice.'). Its a really extraordinary book - its simple enough to be read to a 6yo but introduces all the ideas of how cells evolved and how division & specialization started, how oxygen started out as a toxic byproduct before it was the necessary fuel for life - and eventually how sexual reproduction started. (which, of course, answers the question of "how did something have the first baby." :D)

My oldest son was facinated with the pregnancy of his little brother, and was involved in all aspects of the pregnancy (he loved prenatal visits) and was sitting on the assistant midwife's lap at my knee as his little brother was born (he was riveted).

We spent a lot of that year reading books that were about the genesis of life on the planet. He wasn't really ready for 'facts of life' level of information at that young age, but when it came to cultivating a reverence and amazement at the diversity and beauty and robustness of life on the planet, and how that related to my pregnancy, he could never get enough of that.

They really make us think about the fundamentals, don't they? They spark of The Deep Thinking :D

 
At 2:31 PM, Blogger TheCSO said...

There is one disadvantage to that approach. (And keep in mind that I was a rather literal-minded child.)

I can have a great reverence for how life came to be, for just how flat-out amazing it is - but when it comes to the Why, there's just a big unknown. It's the Creator question, broadly constructed - as a kid, raised Christian, I just sorta accepted that God made the world and so forth. Then, later, as I entered into the theological questioning and awakening that eventually led me into UUism, I realized that there was rationally nothing to support that belief. Nor is there any other belief about Creation that has rational backing for it.

I suppose I'm just supposed to venerate the question itself or something. Doesn't work for me. The only way I've been able to avoid the crushingly depressing nature of that question is to not think about it, ever. Basing reverence on known fundamentals, which is what we're discussing here, leads inevitably into the question of Mysteries. As much as I envy those mystery traditions that are able to in some way imbue an impression that the Mystery has been explained and communicated, I just can't reconcile that with empiricism.

A reverence of the fundamentals is certainly important. It's just that, at least for me, it hits a dead end after a while.

 

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