Religion column — Living water
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
Modern science will relate that humans are made up primarily of water. The rest of our constitutions consist of some protein, some fat, a few minerals and a trace of carbohydrates. Now, let us acknowledge, if we were to head to the laboratory and carefully mix the identified elements, even with a good stir we would be left with a smelly, inert goo. Nowhere, in the aforementioned cocktail, are there all of the requisite ingredients to produce human life.
Our DNA, fully “fleshed out” in the Human Genome Project of several decades, brought us further towards this goal of knowing about life. Even with the billions upon billions of variations, with the aid of computing power, new insights have been gained. Recent discoveries have identified a promising DNA solution to the insidious Sickle Cell Anemia. Certain cancers have been further identified and potential cures are in the offing. All of this is as a result of peeling back the layers of what makes us “tick.”
However, to what credit are these discoveries ascribed? Each lauds the contributions and accomplishments the Nobels have given to humankind. Yet, in any analysis, the human breadth of knowledge and wisdom must, by its very nature, be limited.
Of course, we know a bit more that we did yesterday. On occasion, our insights may take a sizeable leap. Consider the cure for smallpox, the polio vaccine, or the Moon Landings. Each stands an example of our striding towards greater knowledge. However, just because we obtain knowledge, this does not regularly, nor assuredly, garner truth. Our histories are rife with the incorrect suppositions of our societies; as entire populations held the earth was flat; bloodletting was a cure; and the phrenologists measured the bumps on our heads, which indicated our conditions.
Our continuous reliance upon a natural solution to the complexities of our lives negates the potentiality of a super-natural solution. What the viewpoint purports is, “if it cannot be proven, by analysis or postulated theorem, then the position is invalid.” However, by the negation of the supernatural there is an ignoring of all of the potential solutions to our quest for knowledge.
There has been a lot of ink spent on the question: “What does your inner voice tell you?” Each of us has this ability, if we choose to use it. When we think, we often will hear ourselves in an internal dialog; if not conversation. The very idea of conscious thought, and the internal vocalization, may only be scientifically addressed in a small way. Yes, we know some of the chemical processes in our brains, but what is the control beyond that? There can be no denial of a literal unspoken “voice,” in our heads.
As we often seek simple answers to complex issues, it is quite easy to redact the “voices” to simply a series of physiological issues; assailed by unknown forces. Yet, in the exclusion lays the foundational fault in the practice of exclusive natural solutions.
Collectively, we all know of the necessity of water for survival. We know water is not just an integral part of our makeup, but for our very existence. Without it, we die. Jesus, as the Son of Man on earth, was no different than ourselves when he was with us. Walking in the desert, he came upon a well, attended by a Samaritan woman; who was considered unclean by the Jewish sect which Jesus belonged. He would have none of the prejudice and asked to drink.
The Samaritan woman was incredulous that a man, not of her tribe, would drink there. Jesus responded, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Such is the juxtaposition between the natural and supernatural. So often, our sciences and societies provide the well of knowledge; yet consistently avoid the larger questions, which can only be answered by the realm of the supernatural.
When we go to this well of natural knowledge, we as Christians, may also be challenged, or even worse. Such is the plan of our Creator, and our Savior, as we drink the supernatural, living waters of the Christian Faith.