CLERGY CORNER: Plato, DNA & God

Posted on 29 March 2018 by LeslieM

Who knows why we experience what we do, meet who we do, or read something when we do. Some say the what, who, and when of our lives are elements in a divine plan, and some say they are nothing more than pure serendipity. Whatever the case, they are the parts that make up our lives and formulate our view of the world. I recently had a what, who and when experience that put a more hopeful spin, at least for me, on our troubled world.

The what part of the experience were words attributed to Plato which acknowledge that love, in all its glorious manifestations, is what each of us seek in our lives. The who part of the experience, was David Christian, from San Diego State University, and his explanation of DNA, from which our search for love logically proceeds. The when part of the experience was re-reading The First Epistle of John, and specifically the words “God is love,” which for me, tied the whole experience together.

Now before going any further, we need to acknowledge that most theologians identify four different kinds of love: empathy, friendship, erotic and unconditional. The love at the core of our being is not apportioned by these distinctions; it is just there, as necessary to our well-being as is the air we breathe.

First, Plato’s words are as true today as they were when he wrote them in the 4th century BC: “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back.” Yes, God created us as unique individuals but our creation is defined and completed by our relationships with God, with our fellow men and with those we love. We have probably all considered the question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This question also applies to human beings: “If we wander through the days of our lives without any meaningful relationships, do we even exist?” The answer is an affirmative. Yes, a tree does make a sound, and yes, we do exist. Plato reminds us of this truth about ourselves with his words: “Those who wish to sing always find a song.”

Second, each of us has some measure of control over our relationships and whether or not we lift up our voices in song. However, the makeup of our DNA is another question. The essential components of our DNA are beyond our control.

David Christian described DNA as two chains each containing clusters of atoms. These two chains bond together when the atoms of one chain exactly match the sequence of the atoms of the other chain. Mea culpa if my understanding of Professor Christian’s description of DNA goes down the wrong track, but if it helps to remind us that our hearts are only complete “when another heart whispers back,” then I think we are on the right track to understanding that we are created for meaningful relationships; it’s in our DNA.

Finally, there is Saint John’s declaration that “God is love.” This is where the what-who-when experience gets complicated. If “God is love,” and if the first chapter of Genesis tells us that “God created man in His own image,” then how do we explain evil and hatred in the world? The answer, of course, involves God’s “gift” of free will. This gift enables us to act either in love or in hatred. Why were we given such a gift? We were given free will because, without it, our expressions of love or hatred would be meaningless; they would only be mindless reactions to the people and events around us. Our reactions are only meaningful if they emanate from our free will.

God’s gift of free will to mankind assures us that there is hope in the world. It enables us to respond to people and events by finding a song to sing based on the love God sang to the world, from the moment of creation; a melody He placed in each of our hearts.

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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