Saturday, March 12, 2011

God and Country

One of the great things about my job is that I get to travel, which also can be one of the worst things about it too.  ;-)  But every now and then I actually get the chance to explore the local terrain, like I did today.  I had an awesome hike in Pinnacles National Monument in California, and I am really kicking myself for forgetting my camera in the hotel.  :-(

The landscape was colorful, like imagine making part of a mountain from different colors of Play-Doh.  That vibrant and colorful.  At least some of it was, while the rest was just really cool.  And the air, the air smelled like a mix of lavender, jasmine, and honey.  Incredible!

So I started thinking on my hike about how people of faith react to beautiful landscapes, like this one from northern Argentina in the province of Jujuy, which I have also had the pleasure of visiting.  The look at land like this and reflect about how wonderful God is and how perfect and beautiful His works are.  In is also a means of God showing us how much He cares for us.  He has created this earth full of beauty just for our enjoyment!  And I have to say that when I've been in such amazing places, my soul aches with the intense beauty.  I feel alive!  I feel more spiritual than I have ever felt sitting in a pew.  Not surprisingly, some people of faith have felt the same way, and have organized nature churches and worship hikes where God is revered alongside His spectacular creation.

But it's not all that beautiful.  All of this supposed creation is not spiritually moving, such as this patch of Earth to the north and east of Jacksonville, Florida.  In fact, the overwhelming majority of the earth is rather bland, and some parts are downright ugly.  If we are honest in our faith, then we must likewise consider that God made the entire Earth and all of its boring and dreary places too.  And considering that these other places far surpass those few places of surpassing beauty, we would have to instead draw the conclusion that either God purposefully made a mostly boring, often ugly place for us to live or God gave no particular consideration to the aesthetic design of the Earth.  Both ideas have interesting implications.

If you think that God purposefully made the Earth with this landscape, he generally does not care if we enjoy it, and may even not want us to enjoy it, based on how few areas are truly beautiful.  That does not speak of a loving God.

If you think that God gave no consideration to the Earth's aesthetics, well, then, you are one step closer to atheism than you realize.  Such a lack of attention to detail strongly suggests the lack of a designer at all.

So what do you think?


  1. But, Wise Fool, didn't you know those bland places were intentionally made for mankind to dwell and have a place to grow food and have livestock? We can marvel at God's goodness in his provision, not just the beauty in the mountain tops...there must be valleys.

    Gotta love how someone of faith can spin every little thing, eh? I should know, I've done it loads of times.

  2. Too true! LOL!

    Of course, I would parry that counter-argument with the fact that even plains and flat lands can be beautiful in their own sense. The mesas of the south west, the rolling hills of the mid-west, and places like the Dakota Badlands attest to that. But anyone who has driven I-95 from Florida to North Carolina can also attest that hundreds of miles of pine trees and palmettos with completely flat land on sandy soil as far as the eye can see (which isn't too far because the land is so flat!) isn't really fit for beauty, farming, or cattle; at least not "as is" provided by God. :-)

  3. Some of that land is down right ugly, as is some of the land on I-10 from Tallahassee,Fl, to Louisiana. Then you'd have to also ask yourself about the desert and tumbleweed further past that. That would put anybody to sleep.