What do my daughter and Brian Cox’s latest tv series have in common? Both of them really bring home to you the fragility and the breathtaking splendour of humans. Beth’s tiny face is so helpless and yet she is a miracle that my husband and I had a part in creating. And Brian Cox’s explanation of the chemistry and physics that make us out of star dust shows what a miracle and how monumentally insignificant and tiny our lives are.
Of course, it’s possible and for some desirable to view science programmes as nails in the coffin of religion. (Maybe less so than in the past) But If we remove God from the equation of creation we run the risk of two points of view about the relevance and value of humans. Either we legitimise our own selfishness, because after all your life is your own and it’s ok to prioritise yourself – charity begins at home, global warming is just an excuse for the government to tax us etc. In other words we deify ourselves.
Or we come to the conclusion – and this is much rarer since it is much more harrowing to get your head around – that fundamentally there is no intrinsic value to humans at all – read Straw Dogs by John Gray if you want to see the logical conclusions that follow from that path. (But don’t read it if your faith is shakey this month or you feel depressed…it’s like putting your hand on a hot cooker plate just to see…).
But if we have a faith, if we believe we are created then we can neither view ourselves as so important that we can push the resources given to us and our lives into whatever strange shapes we like nor as utterly irrelevant. Instead, in terms of creation we are a bit like Beth – utterly unimportant in the grand scheme of things but breathtakingly beautiful.