Living in the Mystery, part 1

One of the big reasons people claim they do not believe in God is what I call the Endless Loop of Creation Problem. If we were to write the ELCP as a computer program, it might look something like this:
            define God=Creator
            let God create Everything

Do you see the problem here? The very first line of the code actually creates God as the creator. Until God is somehow created, nothing else can come into being, yet if God is the creator of everything, and nothing comes into being until God creates it, who or what created God in the first place? Hence the endless loop. If there was a time when there was nothing, and God created everything out of nothing, where did God come from? The atheist position is that God had to come from somewhere, which implies something created God, or even if God created God’s self, there is still something out of which God could be created, which means there was something that existed before God.

This endless line of “where did that come from” questions causes many people to conclude God cannot exist, or if there is a God, there is still something even more powerful which created God, and something more powerful still that created the thing that created God, and so on and so on. I’ve been there. Most of you reading this column have probably at least struggled with the ancient question, where did God come from? Answering that question poorly has created an entire industry: Ancient Aliens. God is an ancient alien who came here and either interbred with the indigenous, primitive species, or seeded the planet whole cloth as an experiment in genetics. Either way, God is an alien humanoid.

It shouldn’t surprise us that the people who wrote and are described in the Bible struggled with this problem, too. Where did we come from? It’s probably one of humankind’s oldest questions. Trying to answer it leads us to all sorts of crazy conclusions, all colored by our limited understanding of reality, and our self-centered insistence that all life in the universe must look like us—including God. This is an unimaginative, short-sighted answer to the questions of the nature of God and human beings.

There is a better answer, an ancient Judaic answer. When asked why God did this or that, the ancient Rabbis in their playful wisdom often answered simply “It’s a mystery.”

It’s a mystery. If we’re going to believe in a cosmic singularity—God, then certainly much of God’s activity is and must be mysterious. We are human beings. Our experience in this universe is like that of a newborn infant. We’re still crawling around trying to figure out which switch makes the lights turn on at night. Trying to define the nature of God is way beyond the scope of our ability now, and it was even more beyond the scope of the ability of the authors of the Bible. Yet, they did a remarkably good job of describing the mystery in beautifully poetic language. God is eternal. God is spirit. God is human. God is nature. The conclusion our biblical ancestors came to is profound in its simplicity: God is. Everything else is commentary.

Meditation: I open myself to a mysterious experience that defies logic and reason.

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