Thursday, September 5, 2013

Muir's Spectacles

I love John Muir’s book, “Nature Writings” because it is nice to see the world through his eyes. I sometimes forget how beautiful the world is and how it is such a miracle to simply exist. Muir always tells the seemingly mundane natural occurrences with such wonder and curiosity. It is impossible to not follow him in his fascination with nature. I’m so grateful that he wrote down his views of the world. His adult faith was a type of Pantheism in which he saw the mind of God in the natural order of the world. I find it amazing that he developed such a rich view of the natural world, even when his father seemed to be blinded by Christian fanaticism.

Dick’s “Christian Philosopher,” which I borrowed from a neighbor, I thought I might venture to read in the open, trusting that the word “Christian” would be proof against its cautious condemnation. But father balked at the word “Philosopher,” and quoted from the Bible verse which spoke of “philosophy falsely so-called.” I then ventured to speak in defense of the book, arguing that we could not do without at least a little of the most useful kinds of philosophy.

“Yes, we can,” he said with enthusiasm, “the Bible is the only book human beings can possibly require throughout all the journey from earth to heaven.”

“But how,” I contended, “can we find the way to heaven without the Bible, and how after we grow old can we read the Bible without a little helpful science? Just think, father, you cannot read your Bible without spectacles, and millions of others are in the same fix; and spectacles cannot be made without some knowledge of the science of optics.”

“Oh!” he replied, perceiving the drift of the argument, “there will always be plenty of worldly people to make spectacles.”

To this I stubbornly replied with a quotation from the Bible with reference to the time coming when “all shall know the Lord from the least even to the greatest,” and then who will make the spectacles? But he still objected to my reading that book, called me a contumacious quibbler too fond of disputation, and ordered me to return it to the accommodating owner.

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