The Lord's prayer - can a skeptic relate to it?

As almost every Sunday I went with my wife to church today. (My kid has asked me why I do it and my response, Sheldon's style is "unavoidable social convention". Especially with the wife.) And, as almost every Sunday my mind wandered from the inane rantings of our priest to more interesting topics - in this case the Lord's prayer.

As per previous posting, I have felt comfort in reciting the Lord's prayer. I am what you would call a tooth-fairy agnostic, so the comfort does not come out of belief but rather out of the familiarity and past associations with the words in this particular prayer. I have always liked it. And here is why I still like it.

"Our father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name..."

One who knows cannot help but feel wonder and awe when looking up to the night sky. Our small blue orb is insignificant in comparison to the marvelous objects out there, which come in all sizes and shapes. From the mighty Beltegeuse and Antares to our humble moon, going through all kinds of novae, super novae, black holes, quasars, neutron stars, gamma ray bursts, spiral galaxies, globular clusters... we are really nothing when compared to the vastness of the Universe. That is the reason Herr Doktor Einstein talked about God in the context of Nature and the powers behind the Universe. It was not the Jew God he was talking about, it was Nature as God. Hallowed be thy name indeed.

"Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven..."

Herr Doktor Einstein struggled with the non-deterministic nature of the Universe until his final days and this struggle left us wonderful anecdotes of his discussions with Niels Bohr, the father of quantum mechanics. We know that, at the subatomic level, there is nothing truly determined and we can only discuss probabilities. However, at larger scale, the Universe does seem to have rules and regulations, a kind of trascendental orderliness. (Hence the teleological argument). Would it not be wonderful to translate that order to our daily existence?

Consider the collision between two galaxies. It takes many millions of years but casualties... are few and far between. Gravity forces stars to move to other orbits and get out of the way. Even if two stars were to collide, it would not necessarily be their end... there might be a new, larger, brighter star being formed out of this collosal merger. At the end, the two galaxies merge into one, single, larger, mightier entity. Peacefully.

Consider a collision between two of our nation/states. Lots of people die and most of the time there is no merger of equals - one may end up opressing the other or both countries/states come out of the struggle with huge losses, both economical and in terms of human capital.

On Earth as it is in Heaven indeed.

"Give us this day our daily bread..."

What could be more basic than asking for our daily sustenance? Our body needs energy to move, breath, reproduce! Food is the source of that energy, herein symbolized by bread. Indeed, we need our daily bread.

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us..."

Ah, the golden rule! How can we live without it! The golden rule must be golden because it is a basic tenet of our life in the community - we have to respect each other and abide by a set of rules designed to make our communal life bearable and free of conflict. This is not an aspirational goal, it is a basic requirement of societal life. Do unto others as you wish to be done unto. Indeed!

"And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil..."

As I always tell my friends, those things in life that are nice or tasty or pleasurable are usually "sinful", unlawful or harmful to our health. So, a basic precaution of mankind is to stay away from those "temptations", not to mention evil which is to be avoided at all cost. Common sense, to remind ourselves of that in our daily prayers. Indeed!

"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever."

The closing is a reminder of the religious nature of the prayer. Nothing to say on the skeptic side but I would side with Herr Doktor Einstein and bow to the wonder of the Universe. For ever and ever is a little more than the Universe will last but from our limited perspective, the couple hundred billion years more the Universe will be around does look like "for ever and ever".

A long time indeed. Time enough to reflect on how this prayer brings out the common sense and realization of the things man really needs.

Note: I found Wikipedia's article to be extremely informative on the Lord's Prayer. Make sure to check it out.

2 comments:

Edmendez said...

Very interesting point of view.

Edmendez said...

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