The New BeerologyPosted: March 17, 2011
In honor of the Feast of St. Patrick, this post features two of Ireland’s greatest exports: George Bernard Shaw and Guinness Draught. Interestingly, plenty of the Irish population would argue that Guinness is proof that Shaw is incorrect when he claims that God is impotent and perfection has yet to be achieved: surely God is great and proof of His perfection comes in a pint glass. But leaving beer aside for the moment, let us consider our own existence and its implications.
It is beyond question that man is at the top of the evolutionary ladder. But is that because God chose the ladder to end at our imperfect level, or is it because creation (and indeed, God’s power to create) is limited to the slow and imperfect mechanism of evolution? As Shaw puts it, “can you conceive God deliberately creating you if he could have created anything better?” This understanding of God makes Him not an almighty and perfect being that condescended to create imperfection, but an ambitious and imperfect experimenter, slowly honing the craft of creation and building toward perfection. As dangerous as this idea is to conventional religion, it gives humanity a purpose; humans are no longer the lowly creations of a wrathful God, they are now the closest thing in the universe to perfection and part of a mandate to keep improving, keep building, and keep evolving spiritually and physically.
Beer of the Week: Guinness Draught – We may reconcile Guinness to Shaw’s world-view in the following way: God gave us beer, but only an imperfect prototype. Through the work of man it has evolved to what it is today. And man’s done a heck of a job. The technology and science behind the “draught” beer in a can is pretty impressive. I don’t totally understand it, but I do understand a tight, creamy head, and beautiful cascading, which is exactly what this beer has. I’m sure there are purists who will quibble that it is better on tap or that Guinness Extra Stout is better tasting, but this is actually a very good beer. Although I’d like it to feel a little more substantial to match the flavor.
Reading for the Week: The New Theology by George Bernard Shaw, an excerpt – In this excerpt of Shaw’s “Lay Sermon”, he outlines the theology he had been building toward: God as a driving force and will that is only effectual over an extended period of time and through the intermediaries of His own creation.
Question for the week: Does this interpretation of God do anything to address the question of first movement? Mustn’t there have been some first being on which evolution was to work? If so, doesn’t that establish some sort of minimum creative power in God beyond simple evolution?