CHOICE

Reflection by Bowen Miller

Hi Bowen, the bit in red is now correct, so  you could either drop that into what is saved on the website, or replace the whole document.

In the 17 years I have been a Christian, one question that has constantly changed is the one about choice. Choice and control have been at the heart of religions since the beginning of time. The human race has been assigning characteristics to a world that has been harsh, unforgiving and unknowable since forever – whether it be by animal sacrifice, hoping to appease a god and bring about change to an unfavorable circumstance, or  by magic and meditation to gain some level of a personal power. Then, more recently, by exploring science and philosophy to seek a higher level of  knowledge about ourselves and the world and therefore gain a sliver of control.

In much more recent history, some believed that science was going to answer the questions about the universe and upend religion, making it irrelevant and no longer needed – another step in evolution. I was watching an interview with Brian Green, one of the foremost physicists in the world. His view of whether God exists aligned more closely with that of Richard Dawkins who was one of the foremost critics of religion and an outspoken atheist. Brian Greene spoke about  a conference for those in the scientific community during which delegates who had religious beliefs and those who did not were invited to have a conversation. What surprised him, was just how many brilliant people there, including a Nobel laureate, had a faith. His takeaway from this conference was an understanding of how useful religion was for these people and how much it guided them within their lives both professionally and personally, and  he believed it was something of great positive influence.

For me it’s interesting to hear  people who were previously opposed to any and all expressions of a higher power’s guidance, now acknowledging that there might be a place for functional and healthy expressions of faith as a cause for good – even Sam Harris has done this in recent times. Well, what does this have to do with the price of eggs?(as my step father used to say) Well, I think that there has been some dust settling around the question of personal agency and our purpose in our world today, as we are less likely to trust science to give us our answers. We are being faced with questions of morality as the entirety of our world comes into focus. Opinions on climate change, refugees, sexuality and many other issues  are split according to the data available and how it is interpreted. We are faced with decisions around buying a smart phone which has conflict minerals inside of it, and buying clothes that are made in conditions not much better than what a slave might be living and working in. We also need to understand how we might welcome people, not of our own ethnicity or country, in a way that not only looks after them but also enhances the value of the life we currently have.

As this new year progresses – I’m faced with the question, “How much does what I do matter?” In the face of uncertainty and circumstances that I feel I have little control over, what choices should I make? In all this, I’m reminded of the guidance that I have received from God over the years: ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ The hardest questions in life have answers with God. In his life and presence, even the mountains quake, so I’m reminded of the awe of God and I know that his guidance will lead me to where I need to be, even if I don’t understand all of it.

 Sometimes these answers come quickly, sometimes they come slowly. And, sometimes the answers evolve. But, I have found, that eventually I have my way forward.

WHAT DID YOU THINK?

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