Today’s Scripture Reading (January 16, 2017): Isaiah 25
Sigmund Freud spoke of the illusion that nature has been vanquished. But the reality is that
… she will ever be entirely subjected to man. There are the elements, which seem to mock at all human control: the earth, which quakes and is torn apart and buries all human life and its works; water, which deluges and drowns everything in a turmoil; storms, which blow everything before them; there are diseases, which we have only recently recognized as attacks by other organisms; and finally there is the painful riddle of death, against which no medicine has yet been found, nor probably will be.
All of this is part of his treatise against “the ideas of religion.”
He starts off his diatribe against religious ideas by outlining all of the ways that religion has had a positive effect on society, which includes things that we might include under the notion of moral laws. But then he moves on to the concept that we are shortchanging our culture if we do not believe that these positive changes could be attained by a means other than religion. Surely we could learn not to kill each other, not to objectify women and to treat each other with respect without the meddling influence of a God to shape us and tell us what is right. I have to admit; I am not sure that we could ever learn that – maybe not even with God.
This concept he follows up with all of the ways that nature is out of control. It is this “out of controlness” that seems to necessitate a belief in God. Freud stresses that we will never have answers to all of this – but isn’t that okay?
Part of me wants to recognize all of the ways that we have, through intellectual pursuit, brought nature even more under control than it was in the days of Freud. There are so many sicknesses that Freud could not imagine that we would conquer that are no longer part of the “fears of man.”
And yet, with all of the promise of science, we have not conquered death. And there are still hurts, many of them human-made that still brings a tear to the eye. We need to end religious conflict and religious hate. But we are still a people who stand in need of our God. It may not be logical to the scientifically driven mind, but we need and have an answer to the question of the “painful riddle of death.” We believe in a God, who according to Isaiah, will “swallow up death forever.” The Apostle Paul agreed as he quoted this idea from Isaiah. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). In Christ, and by faith, we know the answer to the painful riddle of death. And it is found in the God who created us.
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Isaiah 26