Bare Bones Biology 002 – God as an Artist

God is an artist. At least that’s the opinion of Louise Erdrich, and that’s easy to believe in Texas in April. But I always thought of God as a great scientist. Bill Moyers says God is life. Maybe all our vision is a bit limited. Art, science, life. And who are we to judge God?

One of the comforts of science is that we need not to judge anything. Only to describe the measurable facts that are all around us. We can not change the way life interacts with the universe, using the basic laws of gravity, time and cause-and-effect. Probably God can’t even change the way the universe functions, now that it is set up to run that way. So why do we keep pretending that we are bigger than — God? Bigger than the universe. More important than the earth itself. We are not. We are not bigger than the universe. We are not bigger than the ecosystem. We can not change the law of gravity, and we can’t change the flow of time or of energy, and we can not change the law of cause-and-effect.

130401=Chama-ASC_2937LSsThe law of cause-and-effect is one of the most powerful forms of communication in nature. Once you decide to do something, and you do it, you will live forever with the results of your behavior, like it or not. You can not stop the dropped pot from hitting the floor. You can’t unburn that tank of gasoline. You can’t take back the missed appointment or the unkind word or the evil deed. You can’t change how you feel today over the awful thing you did yesterday. Better to not do it in the first place.

So why do we, and I’m including the biologists, why do we carry on dropping that pot, even though we know better? I have no idea the answer to that question, but maybe we need to explain the cause and effect laws of nature to more people. Maybe instead of fighting with each other over who broke the pot, we might want to stop dropping them. Instead of blame-placing and trying to grow our economy inside an ecology that cannot grow, and war, and genocide and confrontational politics, why don’t we start some useful behaviors. Blame-placing, for example, will not reverse time. It will not undrop the pot, and it will not take away the results of how we choose to behave. It’s an excuse to avoid doing something we know we should be doing. Or maybe it’s a displacement activity because we don’t know what we can do that is better.

I say what we should do is try to stop dropping so many pots in the first place. Especially the delicate, irreplaceable antiques. The biologists do not know everything, but they do know enough about how the ecosystem functions that we could live in it without trashing it. So why don’t we do that? Live in it without trashing it? Is it because we don’t believe in the law of cause-and-effect? A great lot of people do. A great lot of people do want us to change our behaviors and do want to help the ecosystem.

The problem, then, it seems to me, is that most of us don’t really know how. But a lot of us think we do. So we all want the same thing, and we each think we know how to get it, but we all know to do something different. If I were to make an evolution parallel, I would say may the better man win, but I’m pretty sure the better man also doesn’t know how, and I truly believe that we could reach a higher level of understanding if we would simply talk together about the bare bones facts of what it is that we are trying to fix. There is only one way to hold a successful fact-based discussion of any situation, and that is to honor the facts over our own personal opinions and beliefs. If we continue to fight against the facts, then the facts will win, because facts do not change. That’s a good thing. It leaves us with only our own behaviors to worry about.

So maybe it’s time to discuss those facts, and the laws of nature, and the basic realities of the ecosystem that we are trashing, and the difference between a fact and an opinion. Maybe that simple thing, learning the facts and discussing them, is the most positive behavior we can all do in this time and place.

Maybe we can get some people involved who have a broader view than just the biologists. Maybe some artists, TV personalities, maybe even a politician or two.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a weekly production of, and KEOS radio, in Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded at: