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Our quest for answers must continue even if we think we know it all

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: March 18, 2013 6:18AM



I can see, in my incredible recall ability, this girl named Madeline riding her dinosaur, chatting on her cell phone. Paying no attention to the traffic.

She was not wearing a seat belt. So that’s where these bad habits started!

I have crazy dreams like that after Indiana wins a big basketball game.

Anyway, some guys who like to dig up stuff found a fossil somewhere in Java some years back. I have not heard if they decided whether she was a Homo Sapiens or a Homo Erectus. Heck, Fox News could have told them.

They arbitrarily called her Madeline. They could have named her after me, because my first name seems to fit either gender, but Madeline is nice, and is not often spelled wrong.

I have not heard much about this discovery since, but the inference in some scientific thinking was that Madeline, last name unknown, “probably had the capacity to undertake complex reasoning.” She should have run for Congress, but in those early days, there was no Congress as we know it. I wonder what folks read about for fun.

I am writing this under a cloud of hesitancy because when I first heard about the Madeline thing, it sounded like, well here goes: Evolution. There, I said it and await my punishment.

When I think about evolution, I remember the witty wisecrack that I often heard back there in rural Indiana: “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.”

And then I remember a fellow who wondered: “If we have evoluted from monkeys, why are there so many monkeys still around?”

And I remember wondering, as I still do: If we have evolved, are we done? Are we there? Boy, I hope not. It is not finished.

In my amazingly wise grasp of theology, I wrote after reading about Madeline, that “Somewhere between the literal belief in the creation account of our beginning and the continuing discovery of earlier wonders lie answers to questions we do not even know how to ask.”

Therein, I believe, if anybody cares, is the admonition to keep on searching for cosmic truths that may help us grasp the meaning of life, now and when it is finished here.

There is a magnificence in the Earth, all around us, mixed as we know with sorrow and pain. We fail the test if we get so hung up on where we all came from and why we are here at all, that we miss a lot of music, sunsets, smiles and the sound of a baby’s laugh.

And I believe that we err if we keep our eyes and hearts so tuned in to where we are going that we forget how to make where we are a happier, kinder place.

We do not listen well. If we listen attentively we might hear the voice of what Lincoln called the better angels of our natures. We might hear the admonition to get on with our belief in a higher force, to get on with our evolving and climb the highest mountain together.

We are not sure exactly why we are here, but I suspect that this girl they call Madeline and her crowd may have, in their own way, wondered.

I will wager my useless 9 iron, and even more, that we will be better off if we stop fussing over who owns certain pews in our churches, and who claim to understand the Bible completely. Even who has the best church potlucks. Deep stuff like that.

We are made, I believe, with the ability to ask questions and search for the truth. Browning said man’s reach should exceed his grasp. If we tell ourselves that we know the complete answers, we have been asking the wrong questions and not reaching enough.



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