“For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past.”
– Psalm 90:4
This oft quoted phrase from the Tehillim, the Book of Psalms, is used by religionists as a metaphor for everything from the smallness of man in comparison to God to explaining how one can reconcile the biblical six days of creation with science. In my ever evolving beliefs, as I move away from the rigidity of Orthodoxy and a personal God, I often reflect on texts to see if they have a more updated resonance for me.
While not necessarily an early adopter, I am an adopter and I have recently taken to listening to podcasts, which to old timers is basically talk radio on demand through your smartphone or tablet. I was listening to the most recent episode of Fresh Air that airs on National Public Radio (but is available as a podcast) and the guest was New Yorker writer Michael Specter who discussed his latest article “Rewriting the Code of Life,” – how through DNA editing researchers hope to alter the genetic destiny of species and eliminate disease HERE. Read the article or listen to the podcast because any attempt I give at explaining this fascinating advance in science will not only be wrong but will confuse you even more.
The ultimate point though is that if things progress in the science he describes, at some point in the future we will be able to isolate disease fighting DNA that can be implanted in embryos guaranteeing an end to say malaria or cancer. Listening to this I was surprised by my lack of disbelief and a by a certain sense of certainty that this was inevitable. I don’t know if the science will advance enough for me to see it in my lifetime but I have little doubt that if we don’t destroy the world first, such prophylactic therapy will come to pass, it just seems inevitable.
So, as my thoughts often do, they returned to God when I hear or read such things. My questioning, cynical side asks that rigid Orthodox version of God I was brought up on, to explain that to me. Here’s a question Ortho-God I no longer believe in, if the science is available why didn’t you just give it to us to begin with so that so many people do not have to suffer? Then my newer version conceptual God – the one I yearn for and seek through study, meditation and multi denominational services, the One who created the heavens and the earth but doesn’t sit in judgment over my level of Sabbath observance or dietary intake – answers me in thought, “A thousand years in my sight is but as yesterday past,” He says to me.
When I was growing up my parents told me of a time when there was no television. My children likely don’t remember a time without cell phones or Internet. My granddaughter will grow up in a world where she can see my face while speaking to me every day even if it is only through a computer screen. The point is we are dropped into the world at a time and place and what we have available to us is what we have available. To God none of this is new or old or inevitable, it just is.
So as I seek to welcome yet another Shabbat – a God given respite from the other days of the week in my own new evolved way, my thoughts and meditation focus on the greatness of God – not for his all powerful might and power, not for His anger and ability to punish, but for giving us the intelligence to evolve into beings that can find cures for disease, ways to save and sustain our planet and for figuring out how to solve problems. Many, myself included might, be a bit skeptical with how the geo-political landscape is shaping up. But we are a work in progress – We have the power to heal and repair and the same capability to do the opposite. I just pray we choose the right path.