Where Did We Come From?
This question has two answers. The first is historical, where did our religion come from? The second is pre-historical, where did humanity come from? In theological terms, this is Cosmology. Of course we should begin at the beginning, the Big Bang, the Creative moment, and go on from there, but let us start with our religion first.
But where did we really come from?
COSMOLOGY or OUR MYTH
Every human group has a story of its origins, an origin myth. Some people take the stories as fact. Some hear them as metaphors for that great creative force from which the universe came. So some say we came out of the Goddess’s great womb. Some say a Supreme Being made us out of mud and breathed life into us. There are as many names for the Creator as there are human groups. The ancient Vedas say we came from the void, from nothingness, and Brahman breathed and we were brought into being. In our faith, we welcome your story, your understanding of our origins.
Here is an origin story, and an invitation.
Once upon a time, there was nothing,
dwelling in absolute cold, absolute darkness, absolute quiet.
Some might say it was absolutely peaceful.
Others could only imagine emptiness, loneliness,
and the essence of potential,
Then something cosmic happened.
Out of Nothingness came our universe—
first the energy, pent up for that timeless, eternal moment
then the coalescence of energy—
gasses, molecules, photons, quarks everywhere all heading toward their future,
all hurtling toward consciousness.
Galaxies of suns spun off like fireworks.
Suns exploded and planets were born.
Absolute heat met absolute cold.
Absolute darkness was filled with light.
And it was good.
Here on our planet time passed.
A moon came to court the earth, to dance around and around,
and wink at her paramour.
The clouds of vapor rained down upon the face of the earth.
The land was drenched and water covered the planet.
And it was good.
Mountains rumbled forth and stuck their craggy heads above the seas.
Lightning played across the waters and fused all manner of molecules together.
In time, out of that primordial soup came molecules that could replicate themselves.
And life came to dwell on the earth.
And it was good.
In succession, life swam, then crept, then flew.
Life mothered forth all manner of creatures,
fanciful, bizarre, adorable and fierce.
They chirped and roared and squeaked and rattled,
sang their songs of being to the universe.
"I am," they sang. "I am."
One law ruled this world. Survive.
Live long and prosper came the blessing. Multiply your kind.
And it was good.
Simple creatures evolved into more complex creatures,
And soon the creatures were talking to one another,
listening, plotting their survival, and celebrating their successes.
And all this drama of creation, of becoming, of becoming life, of life becoming aware of itself,
So sayeth the scriptures.
It was good.
Come, you who sit on the top of time, peering into the future with wondering eyes,
feast your eyes on your past, and be glad.
For a moment cease your desires, all the yearnings built into your creature bodies,
and be at peace for a moment.
Sing your song "I am"
And learn another song, "We are."
Let us learn to give thanks, to glorify this creative force from whence we came.
Let us open our eyes to the wonder of it all, and sing, together,
"It is good. It is good. It is good."
An Anthropological Perspective...
Charles Darwin was a Unitarian. He was a devoutly religious person and a disciplined scientist, yet his theory of the evolution of life was met with outrage by the religious community of his day. But so were the theories of Copernicus and Galileo. Religion, especially fundamentalist religion, has been at odds with science throughout our history. Our Unitarian Universalist faith does not find incompatibility between science and religion. Why? Because we consider the search for the truth to be a sacred enterprise, wherever it leads.
And we have followed our noses into the nature of nature, into the reaches of our cosmos looking for our origins and into the molecular secrets of life itself. And what we have found has not lessened our thrall, our amazement and wonder, but has, with each discovery, made us more reverent.
Thus to look to the Big Bang and to evolution as the way we came to be here is not moving away from religion, but moving religion into the real world, and it is in the real world that our faith wants to be.
As for humanity “descending from monkeys” as the critics like to put it, DNA analysis has indeed put us as having 96% common DNA with chimpanzees and the great apes, less with monkeys. As we see it all of life is interdependent and interrelated. Thus we are an ecological religion and have an ecological theology. This brings us into a reverent relationship with the earth. And it reminds us that those who are called enemy are sisters and brothers, just as human, just as divine in their nature as any of life.
So yes, we accept and teach evolution in our church schools. Yes, we teach ecology and recycling and conservation. Yes we are sympathetic to saving the whales and any threatened species. They are, after all, our relations.