Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thinking outside the Church Paradigm

So I was going to blog about other stuff tonight (like my purple hair extensions, my weekend at BlogHer, or the fact that I managed to cook a recipe that actually looked like the picture in the magazine tonight) but then we watched Curiosity on the Discovery channel, and I had to write out some thoughts.

For an hour (minus commercials) Stephen Hawking, who is unarguably one of the greatest scientific minds in history, argued why God doesn't have to exist for our universe to have been created.  He was able to use quantum physics to explain how sometimes particles just appear for no reason and with no cause.  So that put an end to the idea that there had to be a cause to create the universe.  Then he explained how time stops in black holes, and since the universe was essentially a black hole at the time of the big bang, there was no time.  So since there was no time before the universe, there must not be a God to create the universe because there was no time for God to do the creating.

So.  Couple of things.

First, I get so annoyed with people thinking that God has to look a certain way.  He's God, people (I'm using the masculine just because it's quick and easy.  I don't think God has a gender).  God isn't really something that our human brains, no matter how awesome they are, can grasp.

It's like saying, "I have black cats who sometimes pee on the carpet.  Therefore, Mozart was a bad composer."  Your first response is, quite rightly, "huh?"  How does one prove the other?

There was no time before the Big Bang, therefore God doesn't exist?  How?  I don't get it?

Maybe the traditional paradigm of a benevolent God watching over us, guiding our every action, can be proven wrong; but nobody has believed in Thor for a while either, but it doesn't mean that there's no God.  Just because one society's interpretation of God evolves, and beliefs fall by the wayside when and if they are disproved - that doesn't mean that there's no God.

Here are two big things I believe in, that I don't believe are disproved by the fact that there was no time before the Big Bang:

1)  The Butterfly Effect.  When I do good in the world, somehow, that makes a difference beyond my sphere.  It might somehow cause someone else in Africa to do good, too.  Similarly, when I sit on my ass watching four episodes of The Daily Show at once, it has an effect beyond my small world.

2)  Energy can neither be created or destroyed.  You can't kill energy.  The energy in all of us will continue to exist, albeit probably in other forms, after we die.

These two thoughts, to me, show that we are all bound to each other in ways we don't understand, for eternity.  My actions influence you.  The energy that comprises you will go on forever.  And has been going on since the beginning of time.  We all started out from the same speck of matter at the time of the Big Bang, and we are inextricably linked now.  I am you, and you are me.

Maybe there's a whole different paradigm of God that needs to be discovered.  Since we all came from the same particles of mass and energy, maybe that spark that ignited the Big Bang lives on in each of us.  Maybe we are all, collectively, God.  Maybe it's our collective consciousness that shapes the world.  Maybe that's what Jesus meant when He said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21).

Ok, so the brilliant Dr. Hawking can prove that there was not a linear time (as we know it) before the Big Bang at which point God could have created the Universe.  And He probably isn't sitting up in the clouds watching us, checking to see if we're being good or bad, with a list, like Santa Clause.

But that has never been my view of God.  Well, ok, maybe for about two years when I was going through a teenage rebellion phase - not having been raised in a church, I rebelled by becoming a fundamentalist for about a year.

My understanding of God has always been more fluid, a relationship to the cosmos that is both more complicated and more simple than anything I learned about in my Methodist church.  Something deeply personal and immediate, within me right now, that also links me with every particle of dust in the universe.  My  understanding of God is about being part of something bigger than me; not for the salvation of my soul, but to be connected to humanity, to every living thing that has ever lived and ever will live.

Dr. Hawking wasn't able to disprove that belief.  In fact, if anything, he solidified it more than ever.  I wish he could have expanded his view of God outside the proverbial box, but I suppose it's what he grew up with, and people hang on to that stuff for a long time - even as he spent time trying to disprove it, he was demonstrating that there was something that needed to be disproved - a dark matter paradox, indeed.

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