Rethinking God: Introduction
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” Stephen Hawking
“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” C.S. Lewis
“There is a theory which states that if ever for any reason anyone discovers what exactly the Universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another that states that this has already happened.” Douglas Adams
Since as long as we know man has puzzled over the meaning and reasons for existence. For many of us this “jigsaw puzzle” seems to come into place when we come into a belief system of faith. We take comfort as the pieces come together and an overall picture begins to form. We dedicate our lives to this new picture and determine we’d like to do everything we can to help others put the pieces together so that they, too, can see how beautiful the picture is – especially if our own lives had been a jumbled bunch of pieces beforehand.
But still in the back of our mind, if ever so slightly, we can’t help but notice that there are a few small pieces of the puzzle that never really fit or come into place. Some of those pieces we just leave blank and chalk it up to “mystery,” while other pieces we end up cramming into place despite their ill fit because that is where we have been told that it must go. Many are content to leave it just at that because, after all, “Who can know the mind of God?” While others, understanding the mystery, continue to go on but can’t quite help but have that nagging feeling in the back of their heads of, “Why don’t those other pieces fit?” Still others, bothered by missing and ill fitting pieces, resolve that this is no true picture at all and end up disassembling the puzzle in order to create a new picture or no picture at all. Unfortunately, when creating a new picture, even if some of the formerly ill fitting pieces begin to fit together, a new set of the original pieces no longer fit together – which like before, you simply ignore or cram in to fit, thus starting the process all over again.
Or compare it to an algebraic formula. Those of us who have studied algebra at some point in our lives might remember that often the solution to a problem was an equation or a formula. And the way to verify your answer was correct was to plug in various #’s to your formula and make sure it always comes out right. Now I would never want to imply life or any belief system is a simple formula, but what if for allegory sake we likened our beliefs to a formula where you simply “plugged in” the text of your belief system as well as life experiences. Most of us who are fairly confident in our belief system would say that the majority of times when you “plug” things in it seems to come out right That is why we’ve settled on the belief systems we have. But then for a few, or maybe many, of us we still find that while the majority of things we plug in come up with “Ah!” moments, there are still just those few things that you plug in that come up with the inevitable “Huh?”. Again, many are comfortable simply calling those “Huh?” moments a mystery because there is no way anyone can fully comprehend God or the Universe; and we, therefore, simply go on with life. Then there are others where the “Huh?’s” continue to nag them, so they begin to compromise by adjusting either the formula or the text of their belief system to make it all better fit. And finally there are others for whom the number of “Huh?’s” simply begin to outdo the number of “Ah!’s” so that they finally either throw out the formula or scrap the text of the belief system all together.
In the “puzzle” of life, philosophers and theologians have always been confronted with two primary questions: 1) How does God exist?; and 2) How does Existence exist, or to put it another way, how did something come from nothing? Theologians and the religiously minded are often content to leave question #1 as a mystery and say that is an explanation for question 2. Secularists, or non-believers, are often content to leave #2 as a mystery; which in turn, they argue, makes #1 unnecessary.
The religious often point to the order of the universe as proof that God exists. They liken the chances of such an ordered universe with intelligent beings existing without an intelligent, creative being as its source to the same likelihood of a jet airplane being assembled by a tornado in a junk yard, or a watch being perfectly put together by shaking all the individual parts in a box, or Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey being written by an explosion in a print shop. Atheists, on the other hand, say that the religious fail to understand the complexities of our vast universe and of existence itself. That with billions, if not infinite, of possible combinations played out over billions, if not an infinite, number of years that it is entirely possible, and even likely, that an ordered universe with intelligent beings would “accidentally” be created. These explanations are seen as polar opposites – completely incompatible.
But what if they are not as opposite as we may think? What if we are looking at two sides of the same coin? Is that even possible? What if billions, if not infinite, combinations played out together to “accidentally” create over a length of time an ordered universe with intelligent creatures, reflecting the very natural laws and character of its intelligent, creative, and I daresay even loving, source?
What if we did not need to rewrite the “formula” or text of our belief system but simply reexamine it? Perhaps look at the “formula” we have so long held in place but this time from a slightly different perspective – and at the very most, tweak our understanding of it? What if by doing so, while certainly not eliminating all “Huh?’s,” we at least found the number of “Huh?’s” diminished – and maybe even found in that a few more surprising “Ah!’s” What if we took a step back from the jigsaw puzzle and looked at it from a larger distance and from a different angle? What if by doing so, you were suddenly able to find the missing pieces and, in the end, not only wind up with a more accurate picture, but a more beautiful one at that?
For those of you who are getting concerned, especially those who may adhere to my belief system, which is that of following Christ, I am not proposing a major shift in theology so much as a perspective change. A change that may bequeath surprising results. Perhaps it is simply time to “rethink” God.
And whatever you may believe in, whether you are a believer or not, I simply ask you as you read the following pages, to give me one thing to start with…to say “It’s possible.” That’s all. It’s possible.
And whether one believes in God or not, there is one thing that we must all admit. The Universe is telling stories. Because no matter what you believe, the Iliad and Odyssey were, in fact, written. Even if you don’t believe in God and even if it was all an accident, existence itself did, in fact, create the universe and the universe did, in fact, form the earth, and the earth did, in fact, form the man, who did, in fact, tell the story – even if accidental. The Universe is telling stories. The question is, why?