Counter Arts
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Counter Arts

Why There is a God, and She is Science

We can survive this brutal world

An idol of Goddess Kali at a workshop in Mumbai during Navratri
Photo by Sonika Agarwal on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking lately about how light is movement. It bounces, and that’s how we know the world through our eyes.

I’m a big nerd when it comes to the physical world. Nothing makes me happier than when Nova comes out with a new episode about space or anthropology or geology. Seriously. I hunker down in front of the TV and revel in what humans do, in exploration and science.

I was an English and history major through my undergraduate and graduate career, and I squeaked by in my science classes. But I love the philosophy of it, the discovery, and the intuitive leaps.

So that’s why I’ve been thinking about light. The light we see in the stars is beaming down at us, not unchanging and permanent but changing and impermanent.

It’s so cool. And the interaction we have with our senses in the world is on a time-delay while our brains interpret it.

Isn’t it fascinating? Evolution brought us eyes over millions of years, billions of years — it’s astounding.

It’s what makes me a good Unitarian, to be honest. The changing and moving evolution of the world around me bring me to faith in a way that belief in an unchanging, scriptural God does not.

One of the ways humans developed, so science tells us, is in communities. We learned to depend on each other in groups. We can empathize with each other, care for each other, and have common knowledge that is greater than individual knowledge.

Does that not blow you away? I read an article in the newspaper once about how scientists revised the adage “fight or flee” as “fight, flee, tend and befriend.” These are our responses to communal stress.

This strikes me as feminist science. It considers the reaction of women in societies, though this is probably a sexist point of view in itself.

Men, of course, tend and befriend too, when it’s not beaten out of them by our culture’s cult of individuality.

When I consider that light is changing all around us and humans react to stress and change by forming societies, I conclude that there is a god, and she is movement and change. She is everything and nothing simultaneously, building and destroying as she goes.

I use “she” pronouns to talk about a god, to disrupt the monolithic structures of modern Christianity in America. I believe she is both he and she, something and everything, movement and time and discovery. Sue me, I’m a Unitarian.

Of course, you can find evidence that a male God lives in the sky and directs life toward a goal we can’t fathom, and it is our job to adhere to a set of rules we interpret from a book written in a desert culture thousands of years ago.

But I find god in science and interpretation and movement, in light and change and evolution. I find her in vaccines and in compromise and compassion.

I also find her in our propensity toward war and punishment, toward traditionally male-centered society. She is everything, after all. She is all possibility. She breaks down even as she builds up.

Our human strategy of adaptation to stress and change is built into our physiology, into our eyes and hands, and into our noses and tongues. We experience the world in its huge variety by imagining possibility and by clinging to each other.

Maybe the world is coming to an end as we know it. Maybe climate change and Republicans and individuality and war and brutality will defeat us as a species. Maybe!

But I have my tentative faith that our adaptations will save us, even from what we have created. I have community and science and new Nova episodes, society, and change and movement through time.

I have women and men and diversity and endless permutation. It’s awesome.



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Jackie Olsen

Jackie Olsen

Come for the insights on aging, leave with a doggie bag full of frogs and exoplanets. Now more poems about vacuuming! she/her/hers