Image of Creation
Have you ever painted a picture of creation, of the world that surrounds us? No, not with pencils on paper, but in front of your inner eye. If you like, close your eyes for a moment and paint your picture of the awakening nature in spring: paint the sun and the clouds, the flowers and trees, the birds and the fish, you and me.
Maybe the picture in front of your eyes has become as we know it from our children: simple, structured, the sun in the upper left corner, a few clouds next to it, a flower, a tree, a cat and a human being next to each other. The flower has the size of a human being, sometimes it even surpasses him. Some of them still have a butterfly or a bird flying through the picture.
The Psalm 104 "Lord, how are your works so great and so much! You have ordered them all, and the earth is full of your goods", and the sun song of Francis of Assisi invites us to paint a radiant image of the creation that surrounds us. And where we are looking, we discover the merry month of May. Lush growth, fragrant lilac, singing birds make our senses happy and free. Just sunshine everywhere?
We all know this is not the case. There are days when the sky is cloudy, and no ray of sunlight breaks through the dreary grey above us. The world is not as simple and sunny as the picture I drew - and life is not at all.
As enlightened people of the 21st century, we have deciphered much of the complexity of the interrelationships - up to the genetic information, the genes of plants, animals and humans, we now know all about it.
No day goes by without a press release providing information on what researchers in the fields of biology, genetic engineering and medicine have developed something new. Yesterday, there was talk of "gene-grass": plant geneticist Russell McInnes from the Research Centre for Molecular Plant Breeding in Perth has manipulated grass in such a way that the stalks grow much more gradually. In addition, this grass proved to be resistant, making maintenance of the lawn in football stadiums or on golf courses of this type much easier and making frequent lawn mowing a thing of the past.
The device used for this genetic manipulation is called a gene gun. Tiny gold beads are used as cannon fodder, coated with the corresponding hereditary substance and shot into the stalks.
On a golden ground one hopes to encounter another development: Seed companies cultivated seed unable to reproduce. This means that when farmers harvest the sown corn or wheat, they can no longer produce their own seed from the harvest and have to buy new seeds every year. This will enable seed companies to secure their annual sales and no longer fear that farmers will use their own seeds, in developing countries.
And last Sunday, due to the time of worship, a message came out saying that an American neurologist has photographed God in the human brain. Using a special technique, he photographed changes in the posterior cortex of people who were immersed in prayer or meditation. These changes should evoke a dissolution of the spatial and temporal perception and thus a sense of infinity. Neuroimaging is the field of research that aims to make God visible as a biological phenomenon in the cerebral cortex of every human being.
Grass, which does not grow any more, seeds that cannot reproduce anymore, God, who can be made visible as a biological system in the brain-bark of humans. The series of examples could be continued around embryo research, development of stem cells and much more. Science of the 21st century depicts creation in different images than "just the sun and clouds, a flower, an animal, a tree and a human being".
How about the pictures we drew a few minutes ago, which were marked by "Lord, how are your works so great and so much! You have ordered them all, and the earth is full of your goods" and "Laudato si o mi signore"? Are these images of yesterday's world being replaced by the image of science today? Has genetic engineering and medicine proved that man is the crowning glory of creation?
It depends on who has the pen in his hand when a painting is made.
Let's look at the scientist: Scientists present us with the images of what they have researched, i.e. the images of their own actions. Great are these images, gigantic in their effects. They intervene so in the creation and in our life that many a person's anxious question comes up: Where's all this going to lead? What actions will humans be capable of?
Let's look at the prayers of the 104th Psalm: He does not paint a picture of his own actions, but gets involved in what he perceives outside his own cortex. He gets involved in praising the Creator (and not his own glory):"Praise the Lord, my soul! Lord my God, you are very glorious; you are beautiful and splendidly decorated. Light is your dress you're wearing. You lay out the sky like a carpet, you build your chambers above the water."
Last Friday, Federal President Johannes Rau delivered the traditional Berlin speech on "Will everything be okay? For human progress". It acknowledges the great successes of science, which contributed to everything that has made our lives easier and longer today. But he also asks the question: "What is good for man?" The answer to this question, says Johannes Rau, "can only be found if we plan, respect and live our own ethical principles for our personal life and for the coexistence of people.
Ethical principles define the boundaries within which we operate. We know them as the ten commandments as human rights - or also as the environmental protection requirements to preserve creation.
Johannes Rau calls on science not to privatise these ancient principles and values, but rather to incorporate them into science and research so we do not become "prisoners of a concept of progress that has the perfect human being as a benchmark".
We are all think these demands are necessary. Someone put it in public.
But we should also take another look at our own pictures.
Ethical principles also place our images in a common framework, they give the images a relationship to each other. We know the gifts that make relationships sustainable: Love, forgiveness, kindness, kindness, gentleness, peace and joy.
Now let's have another look at our simple image of creation: a cloud, a sun, below a flower, a tree, a cat and a human being. The flower may be larger than man.
This simple picture touches us because it expresses the joy of a child or our own joy in painting. It touches us because it reflects our love for nature. Where we allow these values, love, forgiveness, kindness, kindness, gentleness, peace and joy in our daily activities and work, we place ourselves with our own image in the broad framework of the good divine forces that carry life - and which today still give hope for the creation of tomorrow.