Sunday, March 18, 2012

Addis Ababa: Lucy's home

While in Addis Ababa [three weeks ago now], I visited the national museum. It has some interesting artifacts and paintings, but none of it is the Real Reason to go there. So I'm going to keep those pictures small. You can see more detail by clicking on them.

The brands on the top right were used in place of signet rings to mark who stuff belongs to. I think they look pretty cool. I could go for that. On the left, you see a teeny rendering of Gondar, once the capitol city and also known as the Camelot of Ethiopia. Of course, all I can think about is Gondor, and it's one more proof that life really did begin in this neighborhood.

On the right is a massive throne. The seat itself is about at my waist height and the chair is more than a story tall. They have some interesting ceremonial garb.

There was a group of school children there. That was fun because some of them wanted to see a little model city outline on a pedestal but couldn't reach. Using appropriate international sign language, I picked one of them up and let her see. The grin I got in response was precious.

Upstairs they have some pictures I rather enjoyed. Among the things that makes Ethiopia interesting to me is the history of Judaism and early Christianity there. (Did you know Ethiopia is mentioned in Isaiah?


A painting commemorating the 1984 famine.

The real reason to go to the museum is to meet Lucy. She's buried in the basement. But she isn't conveniently located at the beginning of the downstairs where the other 2-4 million year old skulls are. She's down a lot of corridors and turns to force you to see the rest of the saber toothed bunny rabbits and gorgons and whatnot you didn't come here to see are before you finally find....

The missing link.

Our best guess puts Lucy at 3.2 million years old, give or take. According to the signs, she is not actually an ancestor of homo sapiens, but "more of a great aunt." That is, the same line that eventually produced humans had some off-shoots, some of which became chimps, and some baboons, and one of them became Lucy and her friends.

Having been on my feet for more than three hours and finding myself alone, I sat down beside her glass case to ponder. I sat there staring at her for 15-30 minutes, contemplating the Creation, the wonders God has made, and the many, many things we do not yet understand. "Why" and "Who" we have written down in scriptures and can't really be proven one way or another scientifically - it's the wrong tool set. "When" and "How" are beyond the scope of the Bible because they aren't the questions for which it was written, but science continues to learn and change its mind. I was pleased at the end to find ample room for both science as we now understand it and religion as far as it has been revealed to us.

I read a great quote today preparing my talk on faith. Harold B. Lee said,
It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God's moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.