The Long View

I love to consider the world through Christian spectacles, to consider what my faith has to show me about the world. I also loves scientific spectacles - they provide a gorgeous view as well. The work of our scientists illuminate Reality, just like my faith. We have of course observed the folly of wayward rationalists, but the scientific community historically does a bang up job of whipping themselves into shape. They smooth out the edges, and eventually deliver an illuminating and life-giving vision of our world.  

Anthropology, archaeology and evolutionary biology, in particular, help me understand the human condition. Considering our slow rise from amoebas puts our world in a helpful context. 6 billion years is not the same as eternity - for my purposes though, it serves as a suitable replacement. Within this eternity, I see the small blip of human existence - I see the last 50,000 years or so.

 

Seeing the world scaled out to 6 billion years, then zoomed in to 50,000 years - this window allows me to dismiss localized phenomenon like the 2008 financial meltdown, shootings last night in Saginaw, and the vapidness of Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives. Through this window, those events are too small to see.

 

Through this window, I see the long arch of human history: I watch us invent agriculture and begin to trade goods, I watch us transform from tribes into nations, and then, gloriously, watch us claim our nations for democracy, watch us declare the equal value of every human being, I watch us build a world, where I - a physically small and weak 23 year old womanย  - can live in relative safety and independence, free to contribute my mind and my hands to my community.

 

From here, I see us trend towards peace - I see a dramatic drop human life lost to violence. From here, I see life expectancy and literacy rising. I see women becoming equal partners in the creation of their world.

 

And, of course, I also see us stumble - I see our last 100 years. I see Industrialism, Materialism, and their wars. I watch us abandon our cities and fatten our children on cheap sugar and industrial animal fat. I see our families become isolated and lonely: once a safe place in a diverse and well connected community, I see them become mooring posts, thin protection from a vast and anonymous world.

 

I see this past 100 years as an abrupt departure from millennia of progress, millennia of building a world more fit for human flourishing. I'm comforted, though, knowing that it is only 100 years - a mere moment in the life of our world, perhaps a short paragraph in the story of humanity.

 

We are not doomed, we are not damned, we've only made a wrong turn. We have world enough, and time. We can refocus, rebuild and continue our march towards a world where all of creation flourishes together, a world worthy of human beings - beings made in the image of God, beings made for greatness, beings made to make beauty.