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God is Copyright © 2000 by Ralph Robert Moore. God was first published in 2004 in Issue 5 of Songs of Innocence (and Experience).
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an essay by ralph robert moore
Is anything true?
Would it be dangerous if anything were true?
Truth has as one of its attributes constancy, and it is in the constancy that danger exists.
The planets do not orbit the sun precisely the same way each season. If they did, if they only once exactly repeated their orbits, they would be locked into a pattern. A pattern-- a reliable repeat-- signals death, because once anything is predictable, it is closed, and therefore finite and dead.
Logic is not truth. Logic would force us to reject the opening statement of this essay, since the statement's declaration appears to require the declaration itself to be false. But the declaration is self-canceling only if we limit the world to logic. Logic is artificial. It is not organic. It is only one path, and a timidly straight one at that, in this vast, solid and wispy world.
Science is fascinating, a hot afternoon in the attic, but it's not truth. The power of science is convenience. x appears to be true, and y derived from x seems to work. This approach is fine, but it's not all-encompassing and never can be, since it is concerned only with that small corner of reality which can be measured. Life is not inches. Science is a footnote to a text it cannot enter.
A retreat is to think mathematics at least is pure and constant, such as Aristotle's A=A.
Examine it. If the first A can be distinguished from the second A, if only from its positioning across an equation, then both are not equal. A is not an absolute value. Its value is relative to its position in the equation. The fact the first A can be distinguished in any way from the second A shows both A's are not, in fact, equal.
I believe in God.
I say that realizing the statement is as meaningless as saying, I don't believe in God, because there are so many gods to believe or disbelieve in we can never exhaust our faith or our skepticism.
God has taken three forms in our world.
The oldest concept of God is as creator. The all from which everything else came. The Universe is about 14 billion years old. That number is frightening, because big as it is, it is not bigger. It is reassuring that the Universe is so vast it cannot be intellectually comprehended. It is bothersome that something that complex is so young, and therefore seemingly so temporary. It follows that our suspicion the Universe will have an end carries another pang, absurd as that pang may be, since it will occur billions of years after our death, and the death of anything remotely like us. But still, we want something to continue, even if not us. The concept of God as that which has always existed and always will offers permanence.
In time, the idea of God as creator evolved into God as purpose. The manifestation of God as purpose is Heaven. Many believe the purpose of this life is the afterlife. But purpose must also be found on this plane, or it won't be found in Heaven. Heaven is not that important, not until we are there. There is a reason why we don't start in Heaven. Heaven itself has evolved to where many now believe one of the attributes of Heaven is revelation. Will all our questions be answered in Heaven? Even in that light, we may still be debating whether or not God exists, and if not that, something of equal importance. There can be ghosts without God, just as there can be God without ghosts. God as purpose is the form of God most seized upon, because the idea of afterlife as reward allows discussion of the opposite, that of afterlife as punishment, which has been used as a means of control here on Earth.
The third, most recent, concept of God is God as presence. "He moves in mysterious ways." The God that affects our lives, and who can be petitioned, through prayer. This God is the God we feel to be most personal to us, even as this God is probably the most unknowable.
What is God?
Is the Universe part of God? Or is God part of the Universe?
Most legends teach of a fall from God. There was God, in all purity and light, and then Angels and Man oozed from God, swords and apples, and then impurity. First came goodness, and then from within it, evil.
But what little we know of the Universe suggests otherwise.
What we can perceive of the Universe, "from germs to galaxies", as it's often expressed, represents only about five percent of the Universe's content. Thirty percent is represented by "dark matter", about which little is known, and sixty-five percent by "dark energy", about which virtually nothing is known, other than that dark energy is repulsive, unlike the known force of gravity, which is attractive.
If a component of God is love, and certainly that makes more sense than the nonsense pushed in God's mouth by religion, then only about five percent of the Universe can even remotely be considered Godlike.
Which suggests there was not God, and then evil (indifference) descending from God, but rather indifference (evil) to start, and then God (kindness) magnificently arising from the Universe's coldness and stone.
Not a Fall, but a Rise.
As biology arose from rock, perhaps spirit arose from biology. Perhaps the Universe, vast and nothing, reached an expansion where it wanted to know itself. God not all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, but new and local, vulnerable, a collecting of death energy.
Seen that way, God is exciting. God is a hole in the Universe that keeps growing, accumulating, in the cold black and white indifference, kindness. A kindness to which each of us can contribute. God as an infant, floating, newborn from stone, frightening in its potential, powerful in its loneliness.
What must the first of us have thought, dying, whisked up to the surprise of white light waiting, low-browed and alone among the stars, the first angels, and by being such, the first dot of God in the Universe?
In the terminal ward, an old man with blue tubes in his body painfully stretches his arm out over the edge of his hospital bed, pale fingers clutching out, clutching out, until they grasp the white wisp of a Kleenex puffed up from its box. Swinging the heavy Kleenex over aluminum and linen, he holds it out to the young woman seated, crying, at the bed next to his, the bed in which her pale brother, bald and deep-eyed, holds her hand.
Out of the big bang, the hot spread of stones, their whirling to warmth, the stickiness of cells, the crawling, the walking, evolved, eventually, kindness.
There is something new and weak in the Universe.
background on the essay
For most of my adult life I prided myself on being an atheist, until I began to see patterns that suggested, to me at least, an intervention.
The work of Dr. Raymond Moody and others, exploring 'near death' experiences, also swayed me towards the idea that life for us does not end with death, any more than, for the fetus, it ends with birth.
What interested me in writing this essay was the degree to which we reject anything which can't be measured. Many take pride in being a sceptic, but since the definition of a sceptic is one who questions the status quo, and the modern secular status quo is that God does not exist, our 'sceptics' might better be called true believers.
My curiosity towards God does not extend to religion, one of our worse blights. Talk about getting it wrong. I hope someday we'll be able to throw out the bathwater and keep the baby. As Lenny Bruce said, "People are leaving the Church and going back to God." We can only hope.