by Rev. Peter Brabyn, Interfaith Church of Australia, ©2013
Regardless of the modern scripture you choose to read, the message about the identity of God is the same. God is unknowable, beyond our comprehension, at least in a complete sense. Though this is common amongst religions and quite a simple message, it’s one that doesn’t seem to sink in. It’s also the one reason for the majority of interreligious dispute.
Most scripture affirms that God is not human; is neither male nor female; is unbounded by the restrictions of a physical body. Why then do most of us still visualise God as an old man in the sky? Why do we place limits on God and have expectations as to Gods behaviour?
Most of us accept God as the creator, not just of mankind, but of everything. The whole Earth, the Moon, the Solar System, the Milky Way (100-400 billion stars) and the other observable galaxies (over 100 million) and unobservable ones too (estimated in excess of 1 trillion). How then are we to even attempt to visualise God if we cannot even visualise the short distance between the Earth and the Sun? I believe the trick is to be realistic.
Accept that God is beyond our complete understanding and accept that any understanding we do achieve will always be imperfect. Accept that other people, using other cultural values and different interpretations will have a different, but likely somewhat similar view of deity. Accept the idea that as you grow older and wiser, your view of God will become clearer and will need to be refined with the new information you find along your journey through life. God is not stagnant and our view of God should not be either.
If God is omnipresent and many of us believe, try and conceive of what that means. It means God is here now, but also 150 billion light years to your left inside a dwarf star, 300 billion light years away going supernova, inside the mind of the leader of the religion you feel is most different to your views, even present in you.
If God is omniscient as many of us believe then God already knows of your joys and hardships but do we really expect God to micromanage these things? Shouldn’t God worry about the supernova’s first, and the birth of new galaxies, stars and life-forms? Maybe God acts through the creation, all of the beings he is still present in? Have you ever had someone help you out of a tight jam, teach you something you really needed to know or comfort you when you were upset? Was God acting through that person to help you?
If God is omnipotent, completing the trinity many of us ascribe our view of the divine, God can do anything. Create universes, a soft breeze, or even thinking feeling beings. God could smite our enemies, but they too are part of God’s creation and we are their enemies equally worthy of destruction.
What should God do with all these powers? Even more importantly, why do we believe we have sufficient knowledge of the universe to compose some form of necessity or priority to God’s actions?
I believe we need to accept, at least to some extent, that what will be will be. Equally, we need to be aware that we each act as the greatest tools of change on this planet, in this solar system, with the only exception being some larger mass (meteor’s, supernova’s etc.) pre-ordained for destruction. We are the hand of God, but so is everyone else, everything else. We should be out there creating a better world, promoting knowledge, instructing the next generation and generally advancing our species as a whole through the promotion of education, peace and acceptance. We should be acting on our own behalf and on Gods behalf to protect the Earth and all of its inhabitants.
By observing the universe we can see that nothing is in stasis, everything is moving and changing, in fact the only constant is change. All we can do in life is to attempt to direct that change to the greater benefit of our families, our communities, our species and our planet, not necessarily in that order.