GodsBigsBlog: Geoff Machin — We Go Looking for God, When We Could Be Having a Beer

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

“Human beings are the only living things that know they exist and ask why. We’d probably have more fun if we didn’t ask so many questions, just go to the beach and have a beer.

Well, some of us do bother about these things, we live with the questions. That is God in us, I think. That is the extent to which we are made in God’s image.

The very fact that so many people push toward a meaningful basis for their lives is, to me, evidence of God’s existence.”

                           – Geoff Machin, Episcopalian  

Pinwheel Galaxy. Hubble Image, European Space Agency and NASA.

Pinwheel Galaxy. Hubble Image, European Space Agency and NASA.

I like what Geoff says here. I like to believe that the sacred is at work in the world. And I don’t mean in extravagant, show-offy ways (miraculous deathbed cures, multi-million-dollar wins at the lottery, elevator doors that open before one has had a chance to press the up-button).

I’m thinking of a leading force that invites us to be our generous, compassionate selves. A spirit that assures us that we matter and that therefore, by golly, our choices matter.

I think that’s what Geoff means when he talks about “a meaningful basis” for our lives. And I like the fact that Geoff thinks this way. He’s a hard-headed scientific type — a retired neonatal pathologist, born in England, who grew up in the Church of England and studied at Oxford.

He’s a realist who believes that Alfred Lord Tennyson got it right when he suggested that nature is “red in tooth and claw” — bloody and competitive — and that most creatures walking (swimming, swarming, floating, flying) around on this planet are not much interested in anything beyond where the next meal is coming from.

Yet Geoff also believes that we human beings are capable of a selflessness and a desire for meaning that belie our animal nature — and  these qualities originate in the sacred.

Geoff is one of the people I’ve interviewed for my book-in-progress, “Finding Holy: True Stories of Religion and Spirituality in America.” I know him to be a no-nonsense guy. Which gives me — that skeptical, no-nonsense part of me, that is — permission to give way to my long-held and much-treasured hunch that Something is going on out there ( in here?). Something Big.

Which is how “God’s Big Blog” got its name, btw. God Is Big. Of that much, I’m pretty sure.

What do you think? Does the sacred express itself in the material world? Or are we mortals pretty much on our own here in this humongous universe? What do you think of Geoff’s “evidence of God?” Is he on to something, or is he grasping for straws?

© 2009 Barbara Falconer Newhall

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