A faith/philosophy post is a bit overdue. I was taking a walk outside today. There is an artificially made lake on my campus. As I paced back and forth, peering into the water, looking up at the sky, allowing the various sights and sounds to attract my attention, I made a few observations.
As I stopped to turn around at the edge of the lake, where the water mingles with the sand that yields to a wooded area, I thought about how nature is made up of transitions. After all, where exactly does the lake end and the land begin? If I say that the lake starts at the first sign of water, even if that water doesn’t so much as come up to my ankles, then how is this different from a puddle elsewhere on otherwise dry land? But if I say that the same spot is strictly dry land, then how do I account for the tiny fish swimming around to the very edge and back? Puddles don’t host fish.
I’ve had a similar thought process lately when it comes to the beginning of human life debate that is ongoing in our society. Some people say we become a human person at the moment of conception, yet how is this possible if we know that a human embryo can split into two identical twins? Likewise, two separately fertilized eggs can merge into a single embryo around the time of implantation, resulting in a chimera – one person with two sets of DNA.
Others say that birth is the magic moment when we begin to be alive. But how do we account for premature babies? And what about the fact that a fetus has been shown to experience pain and react to sensory stimulation? Furthermore, epigenetics tells us that we are affected by what we experience while in the womb. If we didn’t have our life “turn on” until the moment of birth, there would be no evidence of living in utero.
Perhaps when it comes to deciding where the actual boundaries of a lake are, it matters little. But when it comes to deciding when life – especially human life – begins and ends, it matters a lot. However, I don’t think we need to know the answer to this question to proceed ethically and morally. When in doubt, erring on the side of caution seems to be the most reasonable way to go.
But returning to my observations from this afternoon…
I was entertained by observing creatures in their natural (or somewhat natural) environment. I watched a school of fish stop when I stopped, and face me as if expecting me to drop some crumbs for them to feed on. I noticed a dragonfly hovering in one spot, and was reminded of how our human invention of a helicopter is simply a man-made reproduction of something already existent in nature. I saw a spider walking on water, and recalled how amazed people were to see Jesus do likewise, yet here we have a different creature made by God to imitate Christ in this one physical way.
I thought of how our modern society robs us of such natural entertainment and education. How much can we learn by merely observing nature! So much more than a mere textbook can teach us. Yet we deprive ourselves of access to God’s natural school and play ground, and then try to compensate with virtual renditions of the real thing.
Honestly, this post is really about homeschooling. Homeschooling myself. Twenty years of formal education (right up until all doctoral requirements were met minus the dissertation) has done little in the way of better preparing me for life. And if education doesn’t prepare a student for life, then what’s the point?
Expecting a baby is giving me a renewed hope of learning about God’s beautiful world by parenting and educating my child. I am so blessed to have this opportunity!