The work of Rev. Jude Geiger, a Unitarian Universalist minister

Darwin, Faith, Mind, Heart

#27 Small Group Ministry Session on “Darwin on Your Bumper” Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian,Brooklyn – Based on a Sermon by Rev. Holly Horn preached at First UU on 1/29/12 found here:

Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting  (Please read aloud) by Rev. Jude

We are called in this life, To grow our hearts wider, To build that vision of love made manifest in our world. May our purpose be one in this. And in our coming together, May our lives find wholeness and depth.

Statement of Purpose:  To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.

Brief Check-In: Share your name and something you have left behind to be here.

Covenant Reflection

Reading: An Excerpt from the Sermon, “Darwin on Your Bumper”

In the course of time, Darwin rejected the Bible as a divine revelation, rejected the trinity, divine omnipotence, the divinity of Jesus; ultimately he rejected the concept of a personal God.

Darwin experienced this, not as a broadening of his faith, but as a continuous loss. His inability to find religious meaning later in life was paralleled by an aesthetic incapacity. While he had formerly taken great pleasure in poetry, he wrote: “But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry.” So, too, with music. He wrote to a friend: “I am glad you were at the ‘Messiah,’ it is the one thing that I should like to hear again, but I dare say I should find my soul too dried up to appreciate it as in old days; and then I should feel very flat, for it is a horrid bore to feel as I constantly do, that I am a withered leaf for every subject except science.”

“Darwin lamented that his brain had atrophied to ‘become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts.” He wrote: “If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” He himself understood that he had lost the ability to worship. One biographer wrote that, with the loss of his own faith, he grew to depend upon that of his wife, Emma: she felt for him what he could not feel for himself. (Phipps, 152-4)

The cost of scientific genius, for Charles Darwin, was very great, indeed. But those who brand him an atheist are simply wrong. Even at the end of his life, the theological issue which most concerned him was not whether God existed, but what kind of a God a reasonable person could accept.

Discussion Questions: 

Do you find yourself wrestling with the same issuesDarwinhad regarding faith and spirituality? How so? How (or when) are we like the withered leaf he references? Why do we “worship?” Is there someone in our lives that helps to bring us out of our shell? How do you balance the logic of our minds with the depth of our hearts?

Closing:   An excerpt from the writings of T. S. Eliot – #685 from Singing the Living Tradition

What we call a beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

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