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“Think Different-Accept Uncertainty” Part XI: Beginning a Probe of the Miracles Attributed to Jesus

7 June 2012: 2 Comments »

Deconstruction is always easier to do than reconstruction, but it is not nearly so important.  It is never enough to say who or what Christ is not, but we must move on to say who or what Christ is.  The task is complicated, however, by the very fact that the Jesus story, as related in …

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Question & Answer

Gretchen from Seattle, Washington, writes:


The scholar philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, defined God as the “Uncaused Cause” and “the Prime Mover.”  I keep wondering what came before the Big Bang – what do you think?





Dear Gretchen,

When I get this kind of question, I wonder first, what makes anyone think that another person in any walk of life has the capacity to answer it!  Second, I wonder why anyone would think that even if this question were answerable that it made any difference.

Who do you suppose was present to record the beginning of history before the “Big Bang?”  How did that person communicate his or her findings?  In what language was this narrative recorded? To which other person was the story passed on so that the record was kept alive?  I suppose it is flattering for me to think that you attribute such a capacity to me.  For the record, however, let me say that the “Big Bang” is now estimated to have occurred somewhere between 13.7 and 13.8 billion years ago. Life made it first appearance on this planet earth about 3.8 billion years ago. Human-like creatures did not arrive on this planet until about four million years ago and self-conscious, fully human life may be no older than 100,000 to 250,000 years. To go beyond these few known facts about the origins of the universe is little more than idle speculation.  Astro-physicists now believe they can get within the first minute after the “Big Bang,” but no one can venture beyond the Big Bang, since both time and space result from that moment also.

I am reminded, however, of a story, apocryphal I’m sure, told about St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, in Northern Africa (and probably about other particularly wise men and women).  Someone is supposed to have asked him what God was doing before God created the world.  His answer was that God was creating hell for people who ask questions like that!

Enjoy the present and do not worry about how you got here. You will be a happier person because of it.

~John Shelby Spong


Read what Bishop Spong has to say about A Joyful Path Progressive Christian Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds: "The great need in the Christian church is for a Sunday school curriculum for children that does not equate faith with having a pre-modern mind. The Center for Progressive Christianity has produced just that. Teachers can now teach children in Sunday school without crossing their fingers. I endorse it wholeheartedly."

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