I was rereading The Language of God by Francis Collins for a paper on which I am presently working. I came upon a place where he quotes one of my favourite authors, Annie Dillard. She reminds us that we have banished God from the world in which we live. We have found ways to show that He is not involved in our daily lives. We have plugged our ears solidly so that He will not speak to us. And now, when we think we might like to hear from Him, He is quiet. We hear of stories in other times and in other places where it seems like God might be at work and might be speaking and we wonder why we do not hear Him and see His miracles. Dillard says,
Now we are no longer primitive. Now the whole world seems not holy. . . . We as a people have moved from pantheism to pan-atheism …. It is difficult to undo our own damage and to recall to our presence that which we have asked to leave. It is hard to desecrate a grove and change your mind. We doused the burning bush and cannot rekindle it. We are lighting matches in vain under every green tree. Did the wind used to cry and the hills shout forth praise? Now speech has perished from among the lifeless things of the earth, and living things say very little to very few. . . . And yet it could be that wherever there is motion there is noise, as when a whale breaches and smacks the water, and wherever there is stillness there is the small, still voice,
God’s speaking from the whirlwind, nature’s old song and dance, the show we drove from town … What have we been doing all these centuries but trying to call God back to the mountain, or, failing that, raise a peep out of anything that isn’t us? What is the difference between a cathedral and a physics lab? Are they not both saying: Hello?”
(Annie Dillard in Teaching a Stone to Talk p. 87-89; as Quoted by Francis Collins in The Language of God p39.)
Oh God, how do I unplug my ears?
Collins, Francis S. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. New York: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster Inc., 2006.
Dillard, Annie. Teaching A Stone To Talk: Expeditions and Encounters. New York: HarperCollins, 1982.