Is religion a downer? 9-17-2008
A new interfaith effort: 9-19-2008

Nature's dependable laws: 9-18-2008


The other evening my wife and I attended an outdoor wedding, after which the reception was held at a party room attached to the Boulevard Brewery just west of downtown Kansas City.

The room opens out onto a large patio area (on the third floor) from which there is a wonderful view of downtown, Crown Center and some buildings south of there.

The day had been rainy, and there even was a bit of mist in the air while the ceremony was taking place in a park. But as sunset neared, the western sky began to turn orange and the sky began to clear, though off to the east it still was cloudy and dark.

Perfect, I thought, for a possible rainbow. Which is precisely what began to appear over the northeast section of downtown. After a bit, there even was at least the hint of a double rainbow. (Full disclosure: I didn't have my camera right with me, so the picture here is not of what I saw that evening.)

All of which made me think of the rainbow story in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is, of course, at the end of the story of Noah and the flood, told in chapters 7 through 9 of Genesis. Once the flood has ended, God promises never to do that again. As a sign of God's covenant "between me and you and every living creature that is with you," God puts a rainbow in the sky. God promises to remember the covenant whenever a rainbow appears.

Rainbows also appear in the New Testament in Revelation 4:3 and 10:1, and you can look those up.

I take the scriptures to be authoritative for my life and I believe they contain what we Christians would call God's word to us. I do not, however, read scripture literally and do not believe it is necessary to think of the God-talking-to-Noah story about rainbows as literal history in the way we understand literal history today.

But I do think rainbows and other physical phenomenon are helpful reminders to us that ultimately God is the guarantor of the physical laws of the universe, laws that make life both possible and dependable. And I'm in no way ashamed to admit that when I see rainbows in the sky I think of God's faithfulness to human kind. Well, I also think of physics lessons I once learned and now have forgotten and I give thanks that I never became a physicist, as much as I loved the discipline. My bad math skills would have made me a danger to all of science.

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Just to maintain some perspective here, I want to link you to this BBC story about growing threats from radical Muslims in Yemen, where a car bomb exploded Wednesday just outside the U.S. Embassy. In yesterday's posting here, I linked you to some information about people defending Islam as a religion of peace. I agree with that, but we simply can't lose sight of the fact that some radical Muslims are willing to use violence for religious and ideological purposes, in violation of their faith. And that's what we all must work against. (And, yes, historically people of nearly every faith have engaged in or supported violence in defiance of their religion's core theology.)

* * *

P.S.: A reminder: In the comments section here you may post a maximum of five times a day, each no more than 300 words. Thanks. Bill.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.



a theist

It is also interesting that atheists are so sure they are right even tho they are in an extreme minority.

"Even tho man has been worshiping and seeking 'God' for thousands of years, we know they are all wrong."

atheist non-reasoning

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