Our world is full of divisions; we see it everywhere. We divide ourselves by religion, by politics, by science, by age, by gender, by social status, by athletics, by morals... the list goes on. We human beings are constantly playing a game of "This -vs- That" and doing everything we can for our side to win. Consider the presidential candidates and the campaigns going on right now. We see constant division of human beings over a plethora of different issues in the political realm. So there's this division among humans because of our individual differences. This has even had an impact on the Church. As Bishop Gregory has said many times, "There are over 40,000 different branches of Christianity. Christ established one church; what have we done?"
So there's this constant debate over "This vs That" and which side is better. I've noticed a lot lately the topic of Science and Religion coming up in conversation. I've noticed this desire to make new discoveries and to find answers, but not knowing where to look. Do we look to science to find answers? Do we look to religion to find answers? What information is correct? What information is biased? I face these questions myself and have found myself frustrated trying to figure out where science and religion meet.
Thankfully I've witnessed amazing things in Orthodoxy that completely baffle science. And I've also encountered things that completely baffle the Church. There's an interesting dichotomy and irony in science and religion that there are no more answers; only theory and speculation exist. Once we reach the point of no more answers, it's now a matter of how we deal with the unknown. My favorite example is that of Myrrh-streaming icons.
Really, just take a moment to think of what a myrrh-streaming icon is. It's a piece of wood, with an image, that exudes a fragrant oil substance. People are anointed with the substance and are healed (sometimes instantly). In the church was say, "Glory to God! A miracle!" In the secular world we say, "What's going on? There must be an explanation!" If you think about it though, we as Christians experience things from both sides of the fence. As an Orthodox Christian myself, I've stood in front of a myrrh-stremaing icon watching the myrrh exude from a laminated print. I ask myself how it works. I wonder how the volume of myrrh is greater than the volume of the icon itself. I have my moments of skepticism (maybe a bit of a harsh term) while observing the Miracle of the Icon. The point is, it's ok to question and wonder about our world and universe. Our desire to figure things out is natural and should be fostered. And in order to learn, we shouldn't put ourselves at odds with other people and with other perspectives.
As Orthodox Christians we should be the ones finding common ground and figuring out how we can bring unity to a topic, to a group or to a conversation. So today it's science and religion: How do they fit together?
Just the other day during the Divine Liturgy, my priest spoke about how our culture is one of intellect and prestige, whereas Orthodoxy is a life of living through guidance by the Holy Spirit. He went on to say how the Holy Spirit is wise, intelligent and has the ultimate discernment. I found comfort in the idea that the Holy Spirit Who descended on Christ at His baptism, is the same Holy Spirit Who guides and influences our lives on a daily basis. This same Holy Spirit gives us everything we need in a beautiful simplicity.
So let this be some food for thought. Allow yourself to give your worries and concerns to the ultimate Comforter, to the Spirit of Truth. Through the opening of our hearts to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will achieve unity through peace. Call to mind the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the merciful." Simple things to live by that are meant to bring unity, not division.
My challenge to you is this:
Be the glue of peace that holds humanity together.
Be the anchor of humility that keeps humanity grounded.
Be the shield of compassion that blocks hate and persecution.
Be the light for all of those in darkness.
As Saint Paul says in his letter to the Phillipians, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." If Saint Paul can do it, surely we can too.