The word “god” is such a small and peculiar idiom if you really take the time to search the depths thereof. Our brains are hardwired for logic and deductive reasoning, and we cannot escape the frailty of our minds that are woefully ill-equipped for wrapping them around concepts like eternity and infinity. To somehow understand a being that has always been and will always be and the idea that we are but a speck of dust in the universe, and to accept the fact that God really, truly loves us, pushes our limits of comprehension. The concept of God or a Creator has been around since the very beginning of mankind. Some would argue that we as humans have “made up” the concept of God to pacify our intrinsic curiosity as to the true meaning of life or to assuage our fear of the unknown. Some would argue that religion in all of its forms, is an abomination to science; those same are convinced that there is a “rational” or scientific explanation to this entire dimension we call reality. Whether you believe in God does not determine His existence in the least; God is not subjective reality. Much to the chagrin of some philosophers, truth does not take into consideration your opinion about its existence or non-existence. This is a tell-tale sign of self-absorbed minds: that somehow we can project truth from within ourselves and therefore, literally “create” or project our own truth. Ah, the audacity of man! The first thing that we have to do is admit the following: we will never understand God logically, we will never figure Him out, we will never understand the full implications of Who He is, and we will never, ever, ever, under and circumstance be able to “prove” or “disprove” His existence. God just is. In fact, His most holy of names in Hebrew is YHWH which simply says, “I AM”. Lovely, thanks for the insight God…we appreciate the attempt to confuse us even more! Love you too…
I don’t want to make an argument to qualify what I have to say, but I want to share a little about where I have been in my personal journey to simply give some perspective. Briefly, in college I studied philosophy, biology, mathematics, world religion and history. In my continuing education on my own, I have studied theology, thermodynamics, quantum physics, prophecy, and literature. I have read and made a life out of studying the Bible and have explored through the Apocrypha, the Quran, Gnostic works, all things “spiritual”, Kabbalah, Eastern religion and philosophy, and just about every worthwhile work on what is categorized as “New Age”. The only reason I mention this is so you can rest assured that I am well versed, as much as one human in one life can be, in all perspectives of God. I have to admit that I am an education junkie; I live to learn because that is just how God made me. Hey, someone has to do it, right? Am I an expert in any of the above mentioned fields of study? No, but I realized around the age of 30 that in order to talk to intellectuals, I had to be able to speak their language. The beauty of modern civilization today is that if you desire knowledge, you can access it with a key-stroke or a trip down to the local library. Many Christians today simply shy away from studying and learning the “other side of the argument”; I guess some think they will be somehow polluted. And others simply do not have the time to sit around and read books. I feel blessed to be able to do so, and am compelled to share with you what I have learned.
One thing to consider: a faith untested is really not faith at all…it is denial! Neither God nor the Bible asks us to have “blind faith”. To not know why you believe something is to admit that you are taking another person’s word for it. Sorry to those out there offended by that statement. For instance, if I want to talk to a person who believes in evolution within the context of denying creation or a Creator, then I had better know as much about evolution as I possibly can or simply not enter into the conversation at all. The phrase, “I just believe” is simply blood in the water and summons the sharks to eat you alive. This arena is what we humans call apologetics. I am convinced that every young, Christian adult that enters college should have a solid and scientific foundation in apologetics; I had to learn on the fly, and it was not fun! So all that to say, I want to walk us down a path of awesome beauty where I can take some of the richness of my knowledge and shed some light that many reading this probably have never considered before. This will be fun, I promise.
Let us start with something that has been revealed to me. I think some, if not most, contemplative types would agree with the following: the world we can see is not all that is; the finite, measureable world is only part of the equation; and that which cannot be seen is an undeniable reality in its broadest definition. The infinite and eternal components of life as we know it trace what we will call “shadows” of a deeper reality. For instance, what is love? In our humanness, we categorize love as a feeling or an emotion or a physiological response. But in the truest sense of reality, we have to admit that love is an intangible: we can’t see it, touch it, smell it, but we know of its existence because all of us have experienced it in at least some capacity. The infinite leaves an etching in the finite. In other words, you can sing about love, paint about love, and write poetry about love; these are all examples of etchings. But to define love by a song or a painting or a poem is impossible. You can’t look at a painting and say to another, “That is love”. You can say, “That painting is about love”. A song about love evokes the feeling of love, but you can’t definitively say, “That song is love.” Love is one example of an infinite reality that casts a shadow in our finite world. You can’t define it, but you can experience it, reflect upon it, and enjoy it. Love leaves its divine essence everywhere it has been, a lingering fragrance of the eternal that is unmistakable. The closest thing we can point to and say, “That is love”, is Christ. But even in this capacity, Christ is a representative of love, a representative of the Father’s love! To deny the existence of love is to be a fool. But according to science in its strictest definition, love does not exist!
Another example is peace. Peace is a feeling, peace is a state of spiritual being, and peace cannot be truly understood without experiencing it. Many places can make us feel peaceful: the edge of the ocean, a mountain overlooking a valley, the moonlight reflecting on the surface of a lake at midnight, a summer breeze, or the embrace of one we love. We can look at a painting and sense peace, we can listen to certain types of music that beckon peace, but we cannot prove it scientifically. Do you see where I am going here? So the first thing we must accept is that eternal and infinite and unexplainable forces are a reality. To refuse to acknowledge the existence of things that can’t be explained rationally is to reduce life to complete and utter futility.
Trying to understand God and His awesomeness intellectually is like describing a thing by its shadow. Let me give you another example. Picture in your mind the most physically attractive person you have ever met. For my example, let that person represent an infinite beauty (we’ll call this infinite beauty “Pat” to keep it androgynous). Now let’s imagine that you meet another person who has never met Pat. Using Plato’s Cave Myth, let’s imagine that you and your friend whom has never seen Pat are sitting down facing a wall, Pat is standing behind you both, and there is a light behind Pat. Now the light behind Pat is casting a shadow on the wall in front of you and your friend. How representative is the shadow of the real Pat? Can the friend of yours really grasp the beauty of Pat simply by observing the shadow? Maybe they can get a hint of form, maybe they can appreciate some of the beauty, and maybe they can imagine in their own mind what that shadow represents. What if Pat moved closer to the light therefore enlarging the shadow and creating in essence a larger shadow? What if now all you could see is the shadow of Pat’s finger or an ear or a strand of hair? Does that make it easier to describe or add more to the shadow of truth? So the example shows that one can really never know Pat except by seeing Pat in person. So is the God of the universe! He casts shadows of His existence in every area of life, but to describe Him by those shadows is only giving a crude and partial explanation of Him. So we must decide right here and right now that God is impossible to know intellectually. The study of theology is just this: a study of God’s finite shadows. Or to put it another way, theology is an attempt to describe an infinite and eternal God in the language of the finite and logic. Let me tell you this much: God is not logical; He is in fact, above and beyond logic! And that brings me to my next movement in this symphony.
In the story of Adam and Eve, the fall of mankind happens when they decide to eat from what the Bible describes as the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. It makes no difference to me whether you personally think that this biblical story is an actual occurrence or a myth describing a truth. For the record, because of genetic proofs and because of my personal belief that the Bible is holy and without error, I believe both were actual persons. But in the larger scheme of things, I can assure you that no one will “go to hell” because they are unsure as to the validity of Adam and Eve’s existence as actual historical characters! Anyway, the truth here with a capital “T” is this: the knowledge of good and evil broke communion with God and was in direct disobedience to God’s command not to do so. But why? Maybe God knew something that they didn’t. Imagine that! The reality we now live in is defined by a dualistic construct of logic. Here is the list: good and evil, on and off, light and dark, “if” and “then”, and cause and effect, to name a few. We are now locked into a system of thinking that precludes any other type of thinking; we are locked into logic, it is just how we think! Scientists tell us that even the smartest human alive on his/her best day is only using a maximum of 10% of their brain capacity (it just begs the question of where the other 90% went). Think about it for a minute; assuming you don’t combust from over exertion, all of our technology reduced to its basic language is simply a system of 0’s and 1’s or rather on-and-off’s. Machine language is based on our logical construct of a dualistic system. Do you see the implications? All technological devices from your computer, to your cell phone, to your digital television, to your internet connection are all functioning with the most basic of communication, mainly “on” and “off”. So let us accept the fact that we are tethered to this construct from the word “go” and leave open the possibility that at some point we were not limited by logical thinking. We come out of the womb instinctively knowing that cause and effect relationship. If I cry, mom will feed me; if I cry, my caregiver will change my poopy-diapers. As we grow older, we know when we are behaving well and when we are behaving badly. We know by the biblical account recorded in Genesis that man walked and talked with God from the beginning. We also know that Satan convinced us that we could be like God if we knew of His method of constructing the finite world. Satan convinced us that God was “holding out on us”. And we have been exploring the finite and the boundaries thereof ever since. We think that because we can measure time, that we understand time; we think that because we can deconstruct and describe a human cell, that we really know how and why a cell functions; we think that because we can describe the universe, that we understand the universe. All of it, my friends, is simply describing shadows!
So we must cross this bridge and all admit that trying to understand God intellectually will never, ever happen. Are you O.K. with that? Can you accept that the mystery IS the truth? I think that one of the most important decisions in life is this: I don’t have to completely understand God in order to believe in God. If you try to quantify God, then you are in for a very rocky road! Good luck with that. When I studied philosophy in college, I described it as a whirlwind of questions that never found the solid ground of answers. But the profound beauty here is that when we move past trying to explain God, we can actually begin to get to know Him; when we accept the fact that we will never be able to fit Him into our pitiful little boxes, we can move past the obsession; when we stop trying to prove or disprove Him, we can then experience Him. It would be like me handing you the keys to a brand new Ferrari and you refusing to drive it until you had completely deconstructed it to see how it was built. Wouldn’t you just rather turn the key and enjoy the ride? Do you have to completely understand something to enjoy it? God invites us into a relationship with Him with the caveat that you will never completely understand Him and that He completely understands you. Are you O.K. with that? I hope so, because there are dangerously few intellectuals that are O.K. with that! Which brings me to the next frontier in this journey: once you get past trying to “figure Him out”, you can now enjoy all that is God’s shadow or what I will define as His “signature”.
There are many delightful and poignant books written about God’s signature in the realm of science, but I want to brushstroke a few to help give you perspective and leave with you an undeniable awe of God’s majesty. Below is a simple, yet mind-boggling list of facts that deserve at least a quick survey. I encourage a more thorough investigation of these things if a person is so inclined or has the time.
- God is infinitely large and infinitely small: Recently, scientists have discovered proof that the universe is expanding at an exponentially faster rate. In other words, the universe is increasing its speed of expansion. For a very long time, the accepted theory was that the universe is slowing down in its expansion and would eventually implode upon itself based on the theory of gravity. This is huge. The question to ponder is this: where is the universe expanding to? It is expanding into eternity! The study of the universe is related to the study of quantum physics. Quantum physics is the study of the nature of all things created from a sub-atomic perspective. In the study of quantum physics, scientists have discovered that the basic building-block of matter is the atom. But the atom is constructed of smaller parts. When I was in high school, they had gotten as far as breaking it down to three parts: the electron, the proton, and the neutron. When I was in college, they had just begun to understand other particles smaller than these, called quarks. Today, they know that there are many, many smaller particles or “forces” within this framework. And the “God particle” called the Higgs boson has recently been “proved”. Let me give you a crude example of what the Higgs actually means. If you have two magnets on a table and you try to push them together against their poles, you know there is an unseen force that pushes them away. At a sub-atomic level, there exists a force that counteracts this repulsion and somehow bonds the nucleus of an atom together! This force or power is unexplainable and is considered the most powerful force unknown to man. So we must somehow understand the implications of the eternal and the infinite as progressing ever larger AND ever smaller. It goes both directions so to speak. One day science will realize there is no such thing as a “basic building block”, and that you can split something into smaller and smaller parts ad infinitum! The infinite progression in mathematics of ½, ¼, 1/8, 1/16/, 1/32, 1/64, and on and on it goes, should at least hint to the infinite progression into eternity. Think about what are described as transcendental numbers like pi or e, where the non-repeating nature of these numbers is unapproachable! Here is God’s signature.
- Everything solid or everything that has mass is made up of atoms. In the basic construction of the atom, there exists a nucleus in the middle comprised of protons and neutrons with electrons “orbiting” the nucleus. If you were to enlarge this construction to where you could see it with your eyes and gain perspective, the nucleus would be the size of a tennis ball and the orbit of the electron would be the outer perimeter of a football stadium. The space between the tennis ball residing in the middle of the stadium to the outer edge of the stadium is in essence “nothingness”! So the next time you set a glass on a table, understand that more than 99% of a solid surface is empty space. You, my friend are over 99% nothingness! To top it all off, the electron speeds around the perimeter so fast that it cannot be measured. In fact, it is called an “electron cloud” because the electron is effectively in all places at the same time! This relates on a macro level as well. The universe is disproportionately made up of what astronomers describe as “dark matter”, and they know exactly zero about dark matter! So when a scientist learns more and more about the universe, if he is honest with himself and with us, he must admit that he knows very little. Here is God’s signature.
- With all the money and resources invested into understanding quantum physics, scientists admit that they have no clue as to what gravity is! Gravity just is. Think about that. We live with gravity all around us, and yet we have absolutely no hint as to its true nature or origin. I mean, you don’t have to go to the outer reaches of space to study gravity and you don’t need an electron microscope to study it either. But right under our noses is God’s signature.
- Light is all around us. The speed of light is the measure of time in the universe. But even though we can describe light and measure light, it is impossible to explain or accurately define. We used to think that light was a wave, a measurable wave of energy called a ray. Then we discovered that light had properties of pulses and moves in “packets” of energy called photons. I challenge you to go to Wikipedia and look up the definition of light and laugh out loud when you see the unexplainable trying to be explained. You see, in theory, light should be one or the other! You are not supposed be a wave and a photon. But alas, that is the nature of light; it defies logical, scientific explanation. We will learn a lot more on this journey that the phrase “either/or” is conspicuously missing in the spiritual realm and is better replaced with “both/and”. In other words, there is a paradox in the land of the eternal and infinite; there is what is called “divine tension” that defies our logical constructs. This brings new insight into the verse “God is light” doesn’t it? This is God’s signature.
- The concept of the trinity is glaringly obvious in the physical realm. Think of your own personal construct: body, soul (mind, will, and emotions), and spirit. There is what is called the “biological trinity” comprised of DNA, RNA, and proteins. There are three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Fire requires heat, fuel and oxygen. Atoms at an elementary level are protons, neutrons, and electrons. A solar system is comprised of a star, planets, and moons. Think of the pillars of physics: space, matter, and time. The strongest architectural configuration is a triangle. And there are many more! Surely you are beginning to see that the signature of God is apparent in all of creation. And yet some of us just refuse to look at the proof!
- Think of an individual cell. I know that some reading this book are not experts in the cellular biology field, so let me keep it simple; and all of you that know much more, forgive the simplistic version. When Darwin’s theory of evolution was written, scientists looked at the cell as a simple thing. Boy, was the scientific community in for a surprise! What looked quite simple is in fact one of the most incredibly complex and mysterious frontiers known to modern man. Let me explain one very small facet of cellular biology. The basic workhorse of the cell, if you will, is the enzyme. And the enzyme is a protein; it is an organic molecule that carries out a function or job in the environment of the cell. Think of it this way: imagine putting together a string of beads of differing sizes and weights. Each of the beads has an electronic charge that causes it to have attractive parts and parts that repel, similar to a very complex magnet. As you complete this string of beads, you have to hold the string tightly so that the linear structure is preserved. So you have completed the string of beads and have held the string tight on each end. Now you let go of the string and it collapses on itself based on the “magnetic” properties of each bead. The result of this is an amorphous, three-dimensional, invisible structure known as an enzyme. Picture it as a blob of Play-Doh that has a very “random” system of hills and valleys on the surface. It is not symmetrical, and it is very irregular. Here is the magic! Each enzyme, being only an inanimate molecule, is perfectly shaped to receive another congruous chemical called a ligand. It is similar to a key whose hills and valleys match perfectly to a lock. The enzyme moves around the cell and picks up these chemicals. The chemicals are amorphous as well, but strangely enough, the surface of the chemical fits perfectly into the “keyhole” or particular part on the surface of the enzyme! When this occurs, it changes the shape of the enzyme into a different organic shape. This new shape then fits perfectly into another chemical which then releases the original chemical and effectively transports a “package” from one place to another or releasing the chemical in a specific area. The magnificence of this is that the enzyme is not considered “life”. But how does it know what to do? How does it move with purpose around the confines of the cell? It doesn’t breathe, or eat, or create energy, or require energy, or have any means of propulsion, but it still moves around independent of any mechanism to propel! An awesome signature of God.
- There is a specific enzyme whose function is to “proof-read” DNA strands. It goes along the strand of newly built DNA and checks for “errors”. As it encounters an error, it takes the wrong amino acid out and replaces it with the correct amino acid. And here is the kicker: it does this at 10,000 times per second! Are you kidding me? This is the signature of God. This is the description of only one of thousands of different types of enzymes whose job it is to keep life going. Unbelievable, but nevertheless a scientific fact.
- One last example in the cell. Very simply put, let me define DNA, RNA, and proteins or what I have already mentioned as the biological trinity. We have already seen an example of what proteins called enzymes can accomplish. Think of DNA as a code book, think of it as the imprinted recipe for building these little “machines” in the cell called proteins. The information in DNA is locked into a double helix strand that is stable all by itself. In order to unlock the DNA, it has to be split in two. Certain proteins “cut” the double strand into two parts, like unzipping a zipper. This happens in the nucleus of the cell. Once the DNA is cut in half, the half strands exit the nucleus into the cytoplasm. Think of the cytoplasm as the “watery” area outside the nucleus and contained by the outer structure of the cell called the cell wall. This half-strand is called the messenger RNA or mRNA. Proteins then begin to “interpret” the information and build other proteins. Remember, the DNA is coded and has the “blueprints” for protein assimilation. The RNA makes available the “decoded” information so it can be read by the proteins. To keep it as simple as possible, understand this: the DNA is built by proteins, the proteins could not exist without their blueprints in the DNA, and neither could exist without the decoding properties of RNA! None of the three parts of the biological trinity can exist without the other! This goes way past the “chicken or the egg” question; this is the “which came first, the DNA, RNA, or protein?” Did the DNA come first, the RNA first, or the proteins first? The answer strangely enough is that all of them came first, for they could not exist without one another! They would all have to simultaneously come into existence or the entire system breaks down. As Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” asks, “You like apples? Well, how ‘bout them apples?”
So I hope this little trip into the scientific world has shed a bit of light into your understanding about just how awesome our God really is. The next time you hear an atheist proclaim that all of existence is by chance, please chuckle to yourself. To deny at least what is referred to as “Intelligent Design” is to have your head someplace dark and dreadful. But pity the person who is blind; love them and maybe one day they will look to your kindness and rethink their position. Do not offend by getting too upset and losing your temper to a discussion concerning such things. This is just a pointer from someone who did it wrong for many years. In the appendix, I have a list of books that will satisfy your inclination to have your mind blown on a consistent basis. I think it is important to keep “in the loop” as man discovers more and more of God’s signature. The tragedy of modern science is the removal of the Creator from the creation. When I studied science in earnest, it was an absolute adventure! Every day I was able to open up a book of incredible mystery and gaze upon God’s signature and it left me in awe every time. How one can be a scientist and deny a Creator is beyond me. For me, to take God out of the equation is to rob science of its intrinsic beauty. Read what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image…and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind. Romans 1:20-28 (abridged)
Congratulations, you just finished the first section of Part Two, Chapter One of “A Life Unplugged”. There are two more parts to Chapter One. I decided that posting the whole chapter would be too long, so I broke it into three parts. Chapter One is called “God Unplugged” and is broken into three parts: The one you just read entitled, “God’s Signature”, the second, now posted entitled, “The God of Our Misunderstanding”, and the final one entitled, “Walking in the Rain”.
Be blessed, my friends!