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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Who is God?

The last comment kindly left by my most faithful reader seems to imply that atheists enjoy the same degree of serenity of the people of faith. But I have achieved  peace of mind only after my conversion. 
My inner transformation didn’t happen because I thought that Jesus was a great moral teacher and that I should have conformed my behavior to his message. Rather, his love gradually permeated my being and took over, independently from my will. I believe that he was fully man when he lived on this earth and is fully divine now, powerfully touching the lives of each and every person who opens his or her hearth to him.

 If we open our minds to the Gospels we find a monumental figure of never heard wisdom and courage, who definitely doesn’t sound deluded (as some atheists like to affirm). When he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane he was connecting with a higher power, so I have been trying to come up with my idea of it. 
In fact, my belief in God is still very raw, but perhaps that's how it should be. After all, we can't figure out God, can we? 

When my son wasn’t around trying to convince me that I was wasting my time, I tried to read St. Augustine and St. Thomas, but it didn’t help, because their faith generated their philosophy and shaped their thoughts. For someone like me, who didn’t feel the presence of God but only the presence of Jesus (if we want to forget about the Trinity for a moment), their certitude about His existence was incomprehensible.                                

I tried meditation, but it didn’t get me anywhere. I can shut down my mind, at least up to the point where my thoughts become very silly,  stare at the sky and marvel at its beauty. I can feel  very peaceful, but nothing more than that.
Strangely enough, I was able to take a glimpse into a possible idea of God when I watched a video about the universe on the Internet. Later I learned that I was not alone in thinking of God as revealed by modern physics. One of the most fascinating implications of Einstein’s special relativity is that time as we conceive it is a creation of our mind. Apparently, our universe originated from the great explosion known as the Big Bang and was initially smaller than an atom. Space and time as we know them belong to our universe, so if God is not in our space He’s also not in our time. This makes a lot of sense to me, for it means that we can stop wondering, for example, why He allowed Nazism to go on for twelve years.

 As Brian Leftow writes in Time and Eternity, God’s time is simply not equivalent to ours: “If God is timeless, then everything he does, he does all at once, in a single act…But that one act might have effects at different times. He might in one volition will that the sun rise today and the sun rise tomorrow, and this has effects today and tomorrow…”

Just as well, He might will that good wins over evil, and this has effects in time, but not in time as we know it. Twelve years is a long time for us, but imagine a timeless Being…twelve years might be a meaningless quantification for Him.

 If God is outside of our space-time, then He can’t act in time according to our perception of it. My husband thinks this is a contradiction: If God is omnipotent, He should be able to intervene in our time. If He’s good, He should want to intervene. I don’t agree. We can’t humanize God applying to Him our own measures of judgment. Our son’s opinion is that if we can’t understand this hypothetical God, then we also can’t talk about it. Again, I don’t agree. If we are looking for God, we must inevitably wonder about Him. Doesn’t matter how close we get to the truth, it’s enough to try.
 I realize that my attempt to make sense of God stems from my need for coherence, and that I  shouldn't demand of myself to pin down the ineffable. Nevertheless, I know that I will try again and again, just like I did with Jesus.


Manny said...

Yes, I agree, God is impossible to grasp. That is why we have such myths that try to approximate Him. And in no way do i mean to imply that myth is a bad word. It is the best we can do with our limited knowledge and capability.

Antonella, I just thought of a saint's works you should read that you might connect to. Try St. Edith Stein. She's a near contemporary, started life a non-practicing Jewish, was a philosopher, and converted to Catholicism. Here's her wikipedia entry:

And apparently there is an Italian film on her life and it's on youtube in 11 parts. Here's Part 1:

Antonella said...

Thank you, I will go to the library and ask for a book. I don't like to read on the computer. And I agree with your idea of myth. Too bad we don't agree politically! (LOL)