Thanks to Jane Berg for sharing the Grand Canyon NP Fb “Timeline” link. The image of the meteor over Grand Canyon conjured up the image of “The Star of Bethlehem.” Pre-scientific elders, astrologers and shamans viewed cosmic events like these as omens or cryptic messages from The Great Spirit. Many people today are far too sophisticated to believe this, but I am not convinced that the ancients were wrong. After all, every branch of science begins with an unfathomable mystery. It is as if we have entered a theater which has been playing a movie for 15 billion years. We have no idea of how, when, where or why it started and no clue where we are going. We do know that we are an insignificantly (?) teeny speck of matter floating in an incomprehensibly vast universe. Little wonder there is a chronic feud between “pure scientists” and theologians. Thankfully, we have guides like Newton, Galileo, Einstein, Muir, Thoreau and Eiseley who can see the wisdom and beauty of the yin-yang relationship.
Astronomers are adept at juggling boggling numbers of stars, planets, galaxies, light years, novae and black holes. Even so, none of them can wrap his/her limited mind around terms like infinity and eternity.
One of my favorite quotes is, “words have no meaning,” which simply means that they only have the meaning two people agree to give them. Scientists are prone to chide religious folks for believing in myths and unproven assumptions, however, when asked to define infinity and eternity, they must defer to equally inadequate, unproven mythologies and assumptions. They glibly agree that the universe began from “nothing” in an event called “The big Bang.” If this is so, however, perhaps infinity and eternity are not “givens” and we may undergo a “Big Gnab” event (Big Bang in reverse) and the universe will suddenly disappear.
The story of the “Star of Bethlehem” was recorded by astrologers from several diverse cultures. There are several theories as to its cosmic origin, however, what is not debatable is that “something” extraordinary happened.
As far as we know, man is the only animal who can comprehend time (or at least he thinks so). Any parent of a 5-year-old child knows the difficulty of communicating how long a week is before a birthday or Christmas. Most adults are not much better off. I am in awe of scientists who can juggle billions of years of geologic time with terms like epoch, era and eon. This difficulty can be greatly magnified at the Grand Canyon. While most tourists are properly impressed with the grandeur and geologic history, no small number leave utterly bewildered by both. This feeling can actually be amplified by walking along the canyon bottom. Most of us need an alternate “time stick” to go by. Analogues can be helpful.
If we compress the 1.8 billion-year-history of the rocks at the bottom into one calendar year:
Each day would equal 5,000,000 years.
Each hour would equal 225, 000 years.
Each minute would equal 3,000 years.
Each second would equal 60 years.
This means that Jesus would be born on Dec. 31, at 11:59:20 PM.
Most people living today would be born at, 11:59:59 PM.
In the US, we are living in a time of unprecedented intellectual freedom. We are free to express our opinion on any subject, however, it is not our prerogative to rewrite history to accommodate our limited mental capacity. Maya Angelou warned us that generally, Americans think that they are liberated thinkers, but often they are not. One of Dr. Martin Luther King’s favorite lines was, “Let freedom ring!” He was referring to spiritual, quite as much as sociological, freedom.
People are free to draw their own conclusions about the importance of the Biblical accounts that led up to the Christmas celebration, however, it is philosophically irresponsible to ignore New Testament authors thus obfuscating the truth that their writings have had a profound effect on the evolution of western civilization.
St. Paul described love as the greatest human quality. Psychologist Erich Fromm agreed and added that without love, the human experience makes no sense.
Like all human rituals and ceremonies, Christmas has pluses and minuses, however, the pure essence of the holiday is unconditional love and “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”