Conscious Parenting: The True Evolution Of Human Consciousness Happens At Home
While most scientists and most Unitarian Universalists today accept the story of evolution as an answer to today’s Big Question, they also recognize that creation myths were a wonderful way for ancient peoples to answer their own big questions and explain the world. Some people still strongly believe in creation stories like the story of Adam and Eve. Most UUs believe we can learn from and enjoy creation stories even if we do not believe they are literally true.
Many people believe in both evolution and a God that created the universe. Perhaps they see evolution as the mechanism God used to create everything.
Creation from the Dreamtime
Adapted from an Aboriginal creation story from Australia.
When the earth was new-born, it was plain and without any features or life. There were no rivers or mountains, no trees, no grasses, only flat red earth as far as the eye could see—except that there were no eyes for seeing. Waking time and sleeping time were the same. There were only hollows on the surface of the Earth which, one day, would become waterholes. Around the waterholes were the ingredients of life.
Underneath the crust of the earth were the stars and the sky, the sun and the moon, as well as all the forms of life, all sleeping. All the tiniest details of life were present, yet not awake or alive: the head feathers of a cockatoo, the thump of a kangaroo’s tail, the gleam of an insect’s wing, the rustle of eucalyptus leaves in the wind.
A time came when time itself split apart and sleeping time separated from waking time. This moment was called the Dreamtime. At this moment everything started to burst into life.
The sun rose through the surface of the Earth and shone warm rays onto the hollows, melting ice which became waterholes. Under each waterhole lay an Ancestor, an ancient man or woman who had been asleep through the ages. The sun filled the bodies of each Ancestor with light and life, and the Ancestors began to give birth to children. Their children were all the living things of the world, from the tiniest grub wriggling on a leaf to the broadest-winged eagle soaring in the blue sky.
Rising from the waterholes, the Ancestors stood up with mud falling from their bodies. As the mud slipped away, the sun opened the Ancestors’ eyelids. They saw the creatures they had made from their own bodies. Each Ancestor gazed at their creation in pride and wonderment. Each Ancestor sang out with joy: “I am!” One Ancestor sang “I am kangaroo!” Another sang “I am Cockatoo!” The next sang “I am Honey-Ant!” and the next sang “I am Lizard!”
As they sang, naming their own creations, they began to walk. Their footsteps and their music became one, calling all living things into being and weaving them into life with song. The ancestors sang their way all around the world. They sang the rivers to the valleys and the sand into dunes, the trees into leaf and the mountains to rise above the plain. As they walked they left a trail of music.
Then they were exhausted. They had shown all living things how to live, and they returned into the Earth itself to sleep. We don’t see them, but they are still present in every sacred place, and their music still hums through the world. In honor of their Ancestors, the Aborigines still go Walkabout, retracing the steps and singing the songs, connecting this waking time to the Dreamtime.
Adapted from “Charles Darwin” in Stories in Faith: Exploring Our Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources Through Wisdom Tales, (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2007).
From the time he was a little boy, Charles Darwin was an explorer. He loved to roam the fields and hills near his home in Shrewsbury, England . He was fascinated by the movements of small animals and insects and knew each wildflower by name. He was curious about everything he saw and heard and touched, wondering at the lives of ants and butterflies, examining and collecting rocks, delighting in the grasses, trees, leaves, and flowers that provided homes for his very favorite creature—the beetle.
Curiosity about the world and the place of humans in it was a gift given to Charles by both his grandfathers. They were Unitarians and believed that human beings did not yet know all the answers to life’s great questions. The clues were to be found in observing the world around them.
When Charles was eight, his mother died. Not long after, his father decided to send Charles away to school, where he might learn the things that young gentlemen in his day were expected to know: Greek, Latin, and ancient history. But Charles was more interested in the workings of an anthill or the mysteries found in a rock pile than he was in what was taught at school. At every opportunity he took long walks outdoors—watching, listening, and collecting. He delighted in figuring out how creatures behaved and how the natural world worked.
This wasn’t at all what Charles’s father had in mind. He was worried. What would young Charles do when he grew up? What kind of man would he be?
When Charles was fifteen, his father sent him to medical school to become a doctor like his father and grandfather. But he was not interested in medicine. Instead, he found people who would teach him all about different kinds of plants. He began to draw these plants in great detail, labeling all the parts, learning to tell one variety from another.
Two years later, Charles left medical school; it was clear that he didn’t want to be a doctor. His father was furious and thought that the endless hours Charles spent outdoors were a waste of time. Determined that Charles would make something of himself, his father sent him to Cambridge University to become a minister.
Charles was not unhappy with that decision; in those days, ministers often did science experiments and observations in their spare time. Charles planned to find a small church in the countryside and spend most of his time observing and drawing plants, animals, rocks, and insects.
He was still very interested in collecting beetles. One day, Charles tore a piece of bark off a tree and saw two rare kinds of beetles. He had one in each hand when he saw a third that he wanted to add to his collection. He quickly popped one beetle into his mouth in order to grab the third—with very bad results. The beetle squirted something nasty-tasting and Charles was forced to spit it out.
At Cambridge , Charles discovered what his life’s work would be and he began to call himself a naturalist.
Charles went on a journey around the world and as he traveled, he filled notebooks with drawings and notes. He stayed open to the curiosities of the natural world as they presented themselves: frogs, salamanders, armadillos, insects, and lots of fossils. When he returned to England five years later, he understood how plants and animals evolved from one form to another over the course of many, many thousands and millions of years.
Twenty-two years later Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species. Scientists, preachers, and teachers took notice, and so did the press. The boy collector with the gift of wonder, a spirit of adventure, and openness to new ideas had become the scientist whose theory responded to the “mystery of mysteries.” Today, people still take notice and debate what Charles Darwin had to say.
A Garden Is Born Evolution from UUA curriculum- riddle and mystery
Where previously there had been nothing, now there was something.
Within a black hole, a “singularity” developed.
What’s a “singularity?” It’s an area in a black hole where the density is so great the pressure squeezes bits of finite matter into a piece of infinite matter. Do you understand that?
I don’t either! It’s a Riddle and mystery.
But some mathematicians support this theory of how the universe began. They call the birth of the universe the Big Bang, but there wasn’t really a bang because it didn’t happen instantaneously.
The singularity began to cool off and as that happened, it expanded to become the entire universe we know today. It’s still cooling, expanding, and changing as we speak. Today, it’s 156 billion light years wide. Can you imagine how big that is?
I can’t either! It’s a Riddle and mystery. Cosmogony, the study of the origins of the universe, says this appears to be true.
Atoms became molecules. Molecules of different elements clustered together to form galaxies. Gaseous clouds of molecules formed into suns. Other gases became rock particles. Bunches of rock particles collided and stuck together and became the Earth. Earth has a non-living atmosphere of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Somehow, these elements managed to form themselves into living creatures. Planetary processes brought these elements together to form amino acids and nucleic acids—the building blocks of life—and they created single-celled organisms that grow and reproduce.
How did these non-living elements become life?
Many theories exist, but no one knows for sure. It’s a Riddle and mystery. Yet, we know that those single-celled organisms, like bacteria, changed over time. Changes in a living organism overtime is called “evolution.”
As organisms evolved, they became more complex. Single-celled creatures, probably living in the sea, evolved into life forms with trillions of cells, which live now in the sea, in the air and on land.
Life became more plentiful. The barren rock became a garden. Since all life has a common ancestor, all life is linked. Since all life has requirements to stay healthy and alive, we have a responsibility. It isn’t just that my survival might depend on your survival. My survival depends on the survival of trees and plants that create oxygen and the survival of particular bacteria which live in my intestines. Do you think it a far stretch to imagine that my survival might depend upon the survival of a rainforest ecosystem in South America?
I don’t either! All life is connected and dependent upon other life forms. It’s a Riddle and mystery.