“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Mary and I enjoy watching movies in the evening to unwind from the day, and I have certain genres that I like. I suppose action with a little humor is my favorite. But I also like romantic comedies, Sci-fi, crime dramas, and a bunch of others, including fantasies - especially those that involve mythology. So, I have been enjoying all the Marvel superhero movies that have come out over the last 12 years.
I’ve always been fascinated with Greek and Roman Mythology, and the legends and tales that humankind has used to describe and explain their relationship with our world. Our myths and legends are efforts to describe how we fit into this miraculous Universe. We are an intelligent, curious, and insightful species. We make connections, and where we don’t see obvious connections, we come up with theories that we use to explain things.
Mythology is one such theory. Experts say the idea of the Greek gods began around 1600BC. For thousands of years human beings have tried to explain their existence and the world around them in terms of religion and philosophy, and in our ignorance, we created gods that looked like us. I always enjoyed watching the recreations of these gods in the movies – how the gods looked just like us but were vastly larger. They seemed to have the same emotions, egos, and flaws, and were different only in their size and their superpowers, like a Marvel Comic book hero.
Even as Judaism began some 1000BC, it grew out of this same mindset, with one exception – our God – Elohim, Jehovah, - use whatever name you desire, was the most powerful god. Our God was the God of the Most High – bigger and badder than any of those other puny gods. Still, our God was described much like the others, in that He lived in on high and did whatever pleases him; He had human feelings and reactions. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; he is a jealous, wrathful, yet loving god. Our God had all the same emotions and reactions as we human beings.
In 1000BC, religion was way ahead of science in explaining the world. Because science basically didn’t exist in 1000BC, storms, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and all other natural disasters were attributed to God; they were weapons that God used against some of His children when He thought they deserved it. We did not know about meteorology, physics, biology, microbiology, climatology, chemistry, astronomy, botany, zoology, or seismology. We didn’t know the causes behind the things happening to us, so we constructed theories about them. Since we knew nothing more, we assumed ‘someone’ was doing these things to us, so we ascribed big angry people as the causes of the things that harmed us, and thus gods were birthed.
Science began making its voice known a few hundred years before Christ, and had a profound impact on our thoughts about God well into the 1500s. The church taught that the earth was the center of the Universe, as Aristotle had claimed. To prove their case, they used such verses as Ecclesiastes 1:5 “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” Also, Psalm 104:5 “He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever.” In other words, the early church ignored anything science had to offer and continued stuck in the world of myth and legend.
The church clung tenaciously to their outdated beliefs and held a hard line against scientific insurgents. In 1600, scientist Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy, partly because he proposed that the stars were distant suns surrounded by their own planets, and he raised the possibility that these planets might foster life of their own. He also insisted that the universe is infinite and could have no "center". Bruno dared to make the voice of science heard and paid the ultimate price.
In 1633, Galileo Galilei was convicted of heresy for writing and teaching that the sun was the center of our solar system. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It took more than 300 years for the Church to admit that Galileo was accurate in his theories and to clear his name of heresy. Clearly, despite the church’s resistance, science was making inroads in explaining the world.
In the early 1700s Sir Isaac Newton advanced the ideas of science tremendously and was yet a religious man. He said, "Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done." At that point in our human development God existed side by side with science.
But since then, while science has continued to make tremendous strides, making new discoveries, and advancing new concepts, western religion’s concept of God has remained largely static since 1000BC.
When I was young, I believed in this archetypal concept of God. I know now that it places too many limits on Spirit. There are religions that cling to this old description of God, a god who affects our lives from on high, and that is wonderful. Wonderful, but confining. Still prevalent is the idea of God being a large powerful man in the sky, just like us but without our human frailties. Still floating around is the idea of God as an old man with a long flowing beard, holding a book in which He writes down our sins. Some of us still hold the notion that God will intervene with His creation, changing the course of hurricanes and influencing weather patterns in order to punishing the wicked. As I have matured, so have my concepts of God. Today, I know that God would never do anything to harm any of His children, no matter how mischievous.
Since 1000BC, in many regards, we have attempted to create God in our image, rather than being created in His image. I tend to think, however, that God is more, much more – not only available in external terms but also through our inner knowing, our conscious awareness of the One Presence within.
But I can't be too judgmental or complain too loudly. As human beings, we are just doing the best that we can. Without God’s guidance, we can only envision God through our limited human ideas. Similarly, a dog can only view us as part of its pack. But we have two legs. Still, we are part of its family…a strange, but wonderful provider, but nonetheless some sort of super-canine from its perspective. Some of us see God that way…some sort of super-being, a supernatural all-powerful being, who probably looks like us, and intervenes on our behalf.
Steven Weinberg is a theoretical physicist who has contributed to the knowledge we have on bosons, quarks and other subatomic particles, as well as the unification of weak forces and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles …. Well, you get the idea – he’s smart. In his book, Dreams of a Final Theory, he writes that we are beginning to understand that everything that exists unfolds from its primordial beginnings according to a simple plan based upon inevitable laws. He also claims that it is nearly irresistible to speak of these laws as “the mind of God”. But then he asks, why do so? If God can be defined so broadly that He can be identified with impersonal laws of nature, why do so?
Einstein, another pretty smart guy, believed in God as Espinoza described: a God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, and plays no part directly in the fates and actions of human beings.
Weinberg asks, but why substitute the name God for ‘harmony’ or ‘order’. What’s the point in describing God as ‘energy’? Spoken like a true scientist.
Well, here is the point from my humble perspective: If God is order and harmony, if God is energy, and if God is all these inevitable laws, then instead of God only being something that we observe and measure, God is something that we experience and connect with. God is an ally that we can draw upon, access, embrace, recognize our oneness with, and then express through our own being. It moves through us and we are part of it. That is the point.
But I think God is more than even this, much more awesome. I think God is also consciousness, universal awareness. God is all, and all is in God; God of the broad and narrow, the specific and the general, the common and the exceptional, the known and the unknown.
It is for this reason that when I read something like Stephen Hawking’s book, “The Grand Design”, I am enthralled and totally unintimidated. I am not disturbed when he says something like, “…philosophy is dead…” or because of spontaneous creation as the M-Theory predicts, it is … “not necessary to invoke God…to set the universe going.” According to the M-Theory, Universes bubble up from a caldron of spatial potentiality governed by physical laws. Since writing that book, and a mere 10 days before his death in March of 2018, Hawking revised downward some of the numbers comprising the multiverse.
Regardless of how many universes there are, have we figured out this universe yet? Not a chance! Now, I’m no scientist, but what is this caldron from which Hawking said universes are created? Science has no answer. In my mind, I ask, “Could this be God? Could this be the infinite consciousness of God going about the work of the Father?”
There are some of us who disagree with Steven Hawking. He was brilliant, but he came from a ‘model based’ scientific mindset. Something has to exist in order for us to extrapolate the information we need to move forward. Anything before the “Big Bang” is unproductive to think about because it doesn’t lead to any new information.
Not being a scientist frees me up from that limitation. I can ask, “What existed before the “Big Bang”? That is not an impediment for me. From where do these universes bubble up? In fact, the Big Bang theory has come under scrutiny and may be replaced by some other theory. Questions upon questions are unanswerable to such scientist because there is no model to draw upon.
It is impossible to describe God in totality. There are no words, no clear concept. As Paul said, “we see in a glass, darkly”, unable to perceive clearly the truth of God. We can only describe what we have experienced or have been taught by someone else and choose to believe. There is more to God than we can ever know.
But I tell you this... God is not limited to our models. Whatever limitations we are placing on God, it is my prayer that we kick the lid off them. I pray we allow the boundless grandeur of God to fill us. Science may gloat that they have moved beyond religion, and that may be so when it comes to myth-based and archaic religious concepts. But science has not moved beyond God; not even close. Science is adept at unravelling the mysteries of the physical plane, but they are incapable of seeing into the spiritual realm.
There are some of us whose concept of our awesome God is so great and so unlimited that we are getting tickled as science tries to catch up to God and get just a little peek of what is under the hood of God’s Creation.