The Lord Above?

Does God look like a hairy old white man?

One of the most bizarre phrases used by religious people is “the Lord above.”

To begin with, it implies that there’s a supreme being who resembles a mature male human.

But what’s even weirder about this phrase is the implication that God resides “above” us. If you raise a finger toward the sky it points through our atmosphere and then into a region of outer space. But because the Earth is spinning on its axis, a finger that’s pointing up is constantly pointing at a different part of space. This also means that a finger pointing up may be pointing at the same region of space that a finger pointing down was pointing at earlier in the day.

True believers might argue argue that this doesn’t matter because God is everywhere. But if their Lord is all around us and a part of everything, how can this God be a separate consciousness – a supreme being?

Science versus Religion, 1859 – 2014

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin (Wikipedia)

On November 24, 1859, scientist Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species wherein he explained the process of natural selection, in which the struggle for existence is self-regulated by survival of the fittest. The book is considered the basis of modern evolutionary theory.

On the same day in 1974, a fossil estimated to be 3.2 million years old was discovered in Ethopia. It was nicknamed Lucy and was found to belong to an extinct hominid species which was given the name of Australopithecus afarensis. This ancient primate is considered to be an ancestor or close relative to modern humans.

More recent scientific discoveries have proven there were several species of early humans living on Earth at the same time, and that they interbred.

In 2007 the Creation Museum opened in Petersburg, Kentucky. It promotes the literal interpretation of the Bible, including the belief that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days. One of its exhibits shows humans and dinosaurs coexisting on Earth in the past. In 2013 the museum’s administrators estimated that almost 1.9 million people had visited their facility, and claimed that yearly attendance has surpassed 250,000 in each year of its operation.

A 2014 Gallup poll showed that 22% of Americans still believe that the Bible is the literal word of God.

They Were Always There Among Us

LBGT flag
LBGT flag

When I was a young boy I participated in the popular practice of calling other boys queers, faggots and homos. I don’t believe I was meaner than any of my friends. In fact, most of us didn’t really understand homosexuality. We just knew these were among the bad words we could use to insult each other for the sport of it.

On of my best friends was the youngest child in his family so he usually learned the bad words before I did. He probably taught me how to use most of them. We moved to different parts of the country after we grew up and didn’t see each other for about 30 years. But he recently moved to my town and we reconnected. We were a bit nervous the first time we saw each other again. But within minutes it seemed like we’d never been apart and we agreed we were friends for life, no matter where either of us lived.

Still, a lot of things had changed since we were kids. We got to know each other’s families and it was obvious that one of his sons was gay. I didn’t bring it up because I was sure he already knew it and I didn’t really care. When he finally talked to me about it he was very relieved to find that I understood.

During a recent visit from my sister, who lives out of town, we updated each other about what had happened to all of the kids we’d known growing up in our old neighborhood. (We agreed that Facebook was a great tool for re-establishing contact with people.) She told me that she’d reconnected with a boy we’d both known who’d lived down the street from us, and that he was now openly gay. She said she’d exchanged lots of texts with him and he’d told her that knew he was gay when we were kids, but in those times he was too terrified to be himself.

I’ve noticed, however, that these days more gay people are feeling free to be themselves no matter where they live in America. Maybe I’m just more aware of them now, but I don’t think that’s the reason. For example, there are now popular prime time major network TV shows with openly gay characters – lovable characters. And the spread of legalized same-sex marriage shows that the U.S. has crossed a tipping point in extending long overdue civil rights to gays.

I have a daughter who goes to college in New York City. During my trips to visit her I’ve learned how Manhattan is an important refuge for gay people, a place where they are truly free to be who they are, along with others like them. I think these visits have helped me developed pretty good gaydar too. Everyday I notice people around me that I’m pretty sure are gay.  I didn’t use to notice them very often. But I don’t think that was because they weren’t there. They were always there among us, living in fear.

Shame on us.

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