God in a Jar

So I’m trying to put together about 16 worship services and 35 sermons for this weekend.  Which means of course that anything and everything else in the world is on my mind and itching to get done.  

I ran across this response response from comedian Ricky Gervaise regarding an essay essay that he wrote about why he is an atheist.  I haven’t had the time to read the essay yet, but I did briefly peruse his responses to questions.  I’ll be going through these a little more thoroughly next week.  Or next year.  But there was one initial response I wanted to jot down so that I can really sweat getting the other stuff done that HAS TO GET DONE IN THE NEXT SIX HOURS OR I’M GOING TO LOSE MY JOB.
I think Gervais summarizes his position very nicely in his response to reader (at least allegedly reader) questions:  
All it (science) knows is there is no scientific proof of anything supernatural so far. When someone presents a jar of God it will test it. If it finds some evidence of “godness” it will follow the evidence till it knows everything it can.
Several interesting thoughts from this.  First off I think it’s interesting to notice what Gervais says will happen even if we could produce a “jar of God”.  Not worship.  Not adoration.  Not marvel.  Simply study.  Because of course, by definition, who would find something they could capture in a jar and examine under a microscope worthy of worship?  How silly!  We might be impressed for a while, but only until we had reduced whatever beauty or mystery or otherness to it’s definable pieces and parts.  Gervais is willing to categorize, but not to worship.  He understands all too clearly that the demand of empirical proof of God is not the route to convincing the atheist that God exists.  It is only the route to demonstrating to atheist and theist alike that such a God surely could not merit our worship or adoration.
In another vein, it very clearly summarizes the hyper-limited range of things which qualify as existent or proof.  If you can get it into a jar so that a microscope can look at it, then it exists.  Otherwise it doesn’t.  This sounds rather odd at first, until you realize that this helps explain the insistence of some scientists that everything must be genetically or chemically explainable.  All those universal things that people regularly rate as the highest and best and most important things in the world – spirituality and love and kindness and goodness and bravery – all those things must have a physical definition that can be examined and defined under a microscope.  Otherwise they don’t exist, and any fool can tell you that yes, these things exist.
Not being fools, by and large, many scientists and casual observers such as Gervais postulate that all of these things, since they very clearly do exist (as he demonstrates quite compellingly later in his responses in relation to a movie experience he shared with his mother and his feelings about her now that she’s gone), all these things must have physical explanations.  Explanations that can be viewed under a microscope or a spectrometer and explained.
Love?  No, love is a figment of our imaginations.  Love is really a firing of neurons and a series of chemical responses in the brain.  These are programmed by our genetic sequencing which makes us predisposed to certain traits and features in other people (regardless of sex, of course).  No mystery here – just our genes making sure we get busy and reproduce (or live in same-sex relationships which are, of course, despite their obvious genetic failure to pass on genetic material, every bit as moral and viable as heterosexual relationships).  
Spirituality and experience or faith in the divine?  That’s just a very particular area of the brain firing off in a certain fashion.  We’ve scoped it out and mapped it all out.  No mystery there.  In fact, the very fact that we can map biophysical responses to what people assert are spiritual experiences must prove that the spiritual experiences are not real.  The brain is creating the sensation of a real experience.  It’s impossible that the brain would be physically affected by a spiritual experience.  Because we have no way of measuring if that were the case.  End of discussion.  
Gervais is a clever and funny man.  I like his very British drollness and deadpan delivery.  I appreciate that he’s given thought to some very important issues.  I just marvel that a man who is obviously so bright can so adamantly and condescendingly demand that all of existence be boiled down only to physical things that we can measure under a microscope.  Only to things that we can explain, and in explaining, someday manipulate.  This despite the universal fact that quite literally every single race and culture and society known to man and history has been woven through at fundamental levels with some notion of there being more to the physical world than what we can see and touch and quantify.  
By insisting on such a narrow definition of reality, Gervais and others who think like him believe they are eliminating the problem of a God they can’t control or define or even understand at an appreciable level, and yet who still demands certain things of them and has the right to make those demands.  However, they create equally disturbing alternatives to this one that they can’t stomach.  That we are nothing but biological automatons, impelled through life simply by our genetic programming.  Unable to do or act or speak in any appreciable measure of freedom.  Fooled by our genes into thinking we are free, thinking we are responsible, thinking that we are exercising choice when in fact we are doing nothing of the sort.  
Yet at the same time, insisting that we are capable of bypassing this genetic programming.  That we – with our months of experience in genetics et al are fully capable of circumventing genetic programming that allegedly has been ongoing for millions of years.  We’re that smart and capable.  We have to be.  Because the only other alternative is that we find ourselves back with the same dilemma we sought to avoid – having to obey something beyond our control or our understanding.
Gervais and others seem to prefer the theory that we are helpless automatons that might someday manage to outwit our very being to take control.  It reminds me of another situation a long time ago where people sought an alternative to simple obedience.  Except in their situation, they had a very real choice, they had a very real power to obey or not to obey.  They were never automatons.  They were children.  Creations.  And their efforts to slip out from those roles and become masters and creators has wreaked destruction through all of creation ever since.
I wish that Gervais and others could see that, but I doubt that they will.  By their definitions none of that could have happened.  Even if they have no way of proving it with a jar full of evolution.  

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