When you're done gawking at Ithaca weidos, (see post)should that be your inclination, then you must scoot over to the Cornell Plantations and take in the gardens. There really is something for everyone in Ithaca.
Stroll around and you‘ll think you‘re in one of those trademark new system paradise pictures straight from the Watchtower magazine. You half expect to see incompatible animals…..a moose, a lion, and so forth, with a young child somewhere cuddling one of them. Readers of Witness publications know exactly such pictures. They are paradise pictures, envisioning the earth as it will benefit by Kingdom rule, when those original Eden boundaries have been pushed globally, and the planet becomes what God meant it to be.
It’s not just the park-like setting of Cornell Plantations (under the umbrella of Cornell University). It’s the carefully tended variety, with every mix of color, form, and texture. Specialty gardens of every plant you can think of. Diverse and beautiful terrain with wetlands, gorges, glens, meadows, bogs, old-growth forests. And waterfalls. No Watchtower paradise picture is complete without a waterfall.
And you might, just might, in such a setting of tranquil beauty, come to wonder at contemporary wisdom which holds that it all sprang up on its own, through accident upon accident upon accident…each against million to one odds, and culled through natural selection. Orangutan armies banging forever at those typewriters.If there’s any chance we may see through such educated nonsense, it will happen while strolling the Cornell Plantations.
Okay, okay, you don’t even have to hold to the Witness view that God created each “according to its kind”….an unspecific word….allowing for “animal husbandry” variations within each kind, but always the boundaries between kinds intact. For purposes of this post only, you can, if you insist, take the milquetoast view that evolution is the tool God built into the first organism. (I mean, if you’re going to acknowledge that God did it, then why not acknowledge he did it the way he said he did?) Still, the milquetoast view does put God as the designer, and that will do for this post.
To think life all sprang into being on its own, however, with no intelligence behind it, no design…..well, maybe in such soothingly beautiful natural surroundings, you just won’t think it. You might easily think it at the mall, or the office, or while watching TV, but at the plantation gardens maybe you won’t think it. Instead, you may be struck by the seemingly obvious logic of Hebrews 3:4
Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God. Heb 3:4
I batted around with Moristotleonce the notion that atheism, so common today, must have been extremely rare in olden times. My noble sparring partner didn’t agree, of course, and threw a boatload of ancient Greek atheists at me, but upon inspection, only two appeared to be genuine atheists, and one of those two was such a sicko that he was subsequently withdrawn from consideration, or should have been. All the rest were more likely agnostics, and agnostics, then as now, are a dime a dozen.
For the thinking reflected in Heb 3:4 above is so self-evident that it must have taken much time to construct the mental gymnastics so as to get around it. Not merely to disagree with it, but to come to think of it as a foolish and naïve sentiment unfit for the modern sophisticated mind. Disbelief in God or gods is not really possible until you get around the seemingly self-evident notion that things showing evidence of design must have a designer. Of course, I’m aware that modern thinkers have learned to do it handily, but it is a relatively recent accomplishment. At the vanguard of scientific thought 300 years ago was Isaac Newton. He was not able to do it. Newton wrote more about religion than math and science combined. Far from seeing any contradiction between those fields, he pursued his scientific discoveries with the aim of explaining how God operates….discovering exactly how he designed this or that. To greater or lesser extent, scientists of that era had, if not a personal god like Newton, at least a "creator" or "first cause" mentality.
As another example, when Kepler worked out the laws governing planetary motions (they move in ellipses, not circles) and published his discoveries, he suddenly let loose with a paean to God, smack dab in the middle of his treatise. If you didn't know better, you'd think it was one of the Bible psalms. Would any scientist be caught dead doing such a thing today?
"The wisdom of the Lord is infinite; so also are His glory and His power. Ye heavens, sing His praises! Sun, moon, and planets glorify Him in your ineffable language! Celestial harmonies, all ye who comprehend His marvelous works, praise Him. And thou, my soul, praise thy Creator! It is by Him and in Him that all exists. that which we know best is comprised in Him, as well as in our vain science. To Him be praise, honor, and glory throughout eternity."
Does Kepler's praise not agree with Rev 4:11, and enable all to see where his heart and head were?
"You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created." Rev 4:11
The wise ones of the past might go so far as agnosticism, but no further, since they were not able to reconcile “design in nature” with “no designer.” Fed up with the hypocrisy of religion, many throughout the years worked toward the goal of explaining life in a manner that diminished God's role. Darwin was by no means the first person ever to propose evolution. His contribution was to suggest a plausible mechanism (natural selection) by which evolution could take place. Finally, a rationally explainable way to pull the rug out from under those abusive, self-righteous sellers of religion, who had for so long self-assumed first place in humanity’s hierarchy!
Yet even Darwin didn't pretend to solve the "first cause" issue. His book is "Origin of the Species," not "Origin of Life." That is, he deals with life’s organization, not its appearing in the first place, and did I not already grant permission to hold his evolution view (this post only) and still qualify for a “God designer” badge? It’s been thinkers subsequent to Darwin that have finally accomplished the atheistic nirvana of shutting God completely out of the picture.
I'm grateful that the religious outlooks of Newton, Galileo, Kepler and so forth are well documented. Were they not, I've no doubt today’s atheists would endeavor to count them all as blood brothers. They'd like us to believe that all scientists through the years have leaned atheistic, and it isn't so. Until relatively recently, outright atheism (in contrast with agnosticism) seems to have been an aberration.
Go down there to the Plantation Gardens, stroll the grounds, and it will all become clear.