Wednesday, September 22, 2010

verse v prose

This post appeared on *hi* it's only me in May 2010, but comments do not get mailed to me, so I pasted it here along with some excellent comments.  The post aims to do two things - firstly to put over the very basic view of life and nature that has driven me along since leaving my mother's influence, and secondly to provoke thought about how verse and prose communicate so differently, whether we like it or not.

 Life? No mystery

The mystery of life and nature lies
With shimmering pebbles in a moorland stream.
While deeper than it seems to our poor eyes

A simple slate like lapis lazuli can gleam.
And in this river find deceitful stones
That hide their sparkle from a duller glance,

But make the eyes of others shine with lust
Of riches for the one who hones
This glassy rock to its refractive best.

But I digressed.
The wonder of a diamond stems
From qualities discovered at the hand of man;

While nature had, so many eons past
Pressed humble carbon into service as a jewel-to-be, 
it took a jeweler to add the essential polish 

The question that I really want to ask
is do you feel the need to ascribe nature’s hardest creation to a supernatural power?  Nobody has ever told you to believe that beautiful pebbles in a stream or on the beach prove intelligent design, have they?

And does the simple worm that moves only to eat and procreate speak of a ‘maker’ just because it is more complex than a stone? 

Where is the design here?  Molecules exist because atoms can combine according to strict rules – and do so whenever they meet because they must.

Even under conditions of heat and pressure where life cannot exist, complex molecules can replicate, and do so because they must.  These replicating molecules can organize themselves into ‘simple’ forms that can move and take stuff from their environment – which they do, because they are able. But the mechanisms within continue to operate because they must.

Fishes skipped on the mud and gills slowly changed to lungs – a whole new world rose from the water’s edge to be explored and exploited. Wonderful changes took place because they could. Forms changed slowly as small errors crept into the processes of replication.  Particles  
from space bombard us still and can make changes to the elementary atoms involved in DNA – the instructions for replication.  

To a very simple creature a simple change meant success or failure in the competition for resources, in the ability to recreate. The changed forms flourished because they were better, and nothing could stop them. For a while anyway.

 As creatures became very complex tiny changes had tiny effects, but over millions of years the complexities grew, and not for one second in the time it took dumb animals to evolve into even dumber humans (humorous episode) was there a need for an outside ‘designer’ to make something from nothing.  

My mother was a devout believer, and I respect the human need to fill in the gaps of understanding, and to praise something for the wonder of life (when it is wonderful) and beauty of nature (when it is beautiful).  

It is my position that simple christians are among the kindest and most selfless people by nature, and fundamentalists of all flavors among the most neurotic and dangerous.  There cannot be a single god that both groups believe in.  How can there be?


Carol said...

I want to thank you for the compliment about being faithful to God. And there can be a God for all, maybe we call Him by different names but he is all and for us believers it means that we love and trust. Even sometimes when we do not agree, because God created us and all and gave us differnt thoughts. Some good and some bad, that's up to us. By the way love the poem.May 27, 2010 6:01 AM

corfubob said...

Thank you for responding Carol, there is, it seems to me, great humility in believing god gave us our thoughts, but then you say what we think is up to us! Can both be true?

I think what unites us both is the desire to know the answers. For me, nature created the terrible diseases that infect children (for example) because nature is not given choices. You could say physical laws are god - but this god has no choices either!

Your god seems to be different - it/he/she created diseases that blind and maim children from choice, and can even cure them if they pray correctly. Am I wrong Carol? His 'mysterious ways' are not an answer for me. If I believed in god I would hate him for doing this. Are not little babies innocent?

I believe many things Carol, but take pleasure in being proved wrong, if this is a step towards a better truth. My beliefs are in my head - nature and truth are outside my head, living independently (lucky things!) Go well, and be happy, BobMay 31, 2010 1:40 AM 

Jen said...

Wow Bob, I am so tempted to argue with you (respectfully) but will refrain (mostly) because I do not have the time to do so in a quality way, so I would lose. :-)
Will just content myself with saying a few things ...
-You have only described HOW molecules exist, not WHY. The fact that atoms have these attractions and repulsions is a quality of theirs, not what caused them. It is an important detail of how the physical universe operates, not the reason for the physical universe. It seems to me that in the sciences, we are often told we will receive an explanation, when all we really get is a description.
-The Christian explanation for the universe is a complex one. The Bible teaches that we live in a world that was created completely good, but is now fallen, ruined, and so contains much pain. It's tempting to say, "But if God exists, that means He created either evil beings, or beings capable of becoming evil, so isn't that exactly the same as if He'd created sickness and pain Himself?" The answer is, No. It's complex. It all goes back to the mystery of free will. God is somehow able to create beings outside of Himself, who can take real actions that have real consequences, which left to Himself He would not have chosen, DESPITE that He knew what they were going to do beforehand. No, I don't understand that. It's reality. It's too complex to understand.
-About the form. I like the parts that scan and rhyme. The transition from poetry to prose was smooth (I thought). It's also appropriate that the poem leads you to contemplate beauty, but the prose sticks to the argument. However, it seems to me you have a lot more prose than poetry. If you want the form to be perfect, shouldn't it move back and forth more?July 14, 2010 8:03 PM 

Jinksy sai

Wish I'd come in at the start of this arguement... LOL :)August 28, 2010 11:13 AM 


  1. I believe in God, as my higher power. However, fundamentalists are some of the most neurotic and dangerous people. I know this first hand. And that's all I have to say about that.

  2. Beliefs (of this kind) are only a small part of a human being's make-up. Psycho- and Socio-paths find many different ways of asserting their egos, do they not? Thanks for stopping by Willow.

    Jinksy? OK - then just put an end to the argument - it's in need of a decent burial.

    Jen. If only you could explain the nature of this 'WHY' you suggest needs asking. Unless you deny the existence of a physical universe (and some people do) it is easy enough to see the process of 'cause and effect' In this case 'how' and 'why' are the same question, yes?

    Prime cause? Who says there must BE one? A timeless cycle does not have a prime cause.

    Another 'why' implies a 'reason'. "Why aren't you going to Willow's ball?" "Because I have no clean socks" "Why was I ever born?" (question and statement) Sensible answer - "because my parents wanted a daughter to play with my brother"

    "Why do dragons breath fire?'" Another category of 'why' questions. I think of this type as 'grammatical' Merely a correct combination of words without answer.

    Briefly - there must be a cause, there is no need for a reason. Or can you think of one Jen?

  3. I like the poem.

    Well, first I have to make an excuse for my English, it is not up to what I would wish, especially when the subject is abstract matters.

    However, when it comes to the question if there is an God or not, I find it fascinating that no matter how many answers science comes up with, no matter how many links in the chain of understanding is provided, we are still left with a 50 – 50 % possibility.

    One problem is, that many people, also scientists, are confused about the two different issues, HOW and WHY.

    If there is a God behind everything, the creation of course had to be done in SOME way. Well, what we see and understand could be one way, but, since we are human beings, our nature leads us to ask why it couldn’t be done differently.

    To me, absolutely no miracle is bigger than consciousness. Here, on a piece of dust in the universe, I can look at the sky above me, being aware of the stars and a tiny part of the greatness. Accepting that situation, the thought of a creator is not at all more difficult to take in.

    But, faith is a reaction, more than an achievement.

    What if there exists only one consciousness in the universe(s)? That every individual here on earth owns a fragment of it, we might even share our tiny bit of it with God - that maybe IS the full an eternal consciousness.

    The Norwegian author Sigrid Undset once wrote something like, “everything eternal, except an full insight in God, would turn out to be hell”

    Anyway, this was only a few thoughts upon the matter. Thanks to Bob for an interesting blog.

  4. Thanks for this thoughtful comment Rune - email on way.

  5. I think every person sees nature different. To me a worm is disgusting and of now interest although I have to recognize that it is good for the earth in the garden. Pebbles I love and I see many designs in each one.


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