The Question of a God
If the God of human tradition exists, then what defines that God? Is it the Torah, the Christian Testament, the Book of Mormon, the writings of Buddha—or any of the others? If only one of those defines God’s instructions to humanity, why would the all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present God, described in them, leave us to figure out which? But could a Creator or First Cause be deduced by mere philosophical meditation upon Nature? If so, why depend upon the writings of Humanity and the social pressure of others for knowledge of God? Given the complexity, range, variety and interdependence of life on Earth, can one then draw conclusions about the question of God’s existence and about God’s possible purpose for Humanity, without resorting to alleged holy writings? If so, then perhaps the quandary over choosing which written assertion of God’s word to accept becomes moot. If Humanity could agree to disagree about its various holy writings and come to common ground based upon that which can be observed at this moment, and–as mentioned above–without the social pressure of others, then perhaps Humanity’s age-long, figurative and at times literal religious war can be put aside. Recent events would hint that the survival of any degree of civil society on Earth is at stake.
To entertain the possibility of determining God’s existence from natural observance, one has to assume the hypothesis of First Cause: some intelligence willed and acted out a process by which we have Earth today. Most scientific observers agree that Earth evolved, both geologically and biologically, either by a slow, gradual process or by repeated iterations of extinction and renewal. To agree with either the iterative or gradual theory of evolution is to in no way preclude an intelligent designer and implementor. If there is a God, then evolution is decidedly the tool by which God created Earth and, apparently, Humanity. Admittedly, there remains the question of why? If God did it, why did God do it?
What is Humanity to God? Could the Deist philosophy be true? An intelligence created everything then walked away? To the typical creative person, this is an oxymoron. Such an individual cannot imagine going through the “birth pangs” of any creative effort, then blithely walking away without so much as a backward glance. One sufficiently intelligent to create what we observe on Earth and in the heavens today would seem to do nothing in vain. To create and walk away seems to be a wastefulness and wantonness beneath the dignity of such a being. Such a thought is distasteful even from our own poor, temporary vantage point.
Rejection of the Deist philosophy and its apathetic creator, however, still does not answer the question, “why?” It merely validates the question as being relevant. It assumes that there is a “why,” a purpose. Further, if there is a purpose, does it involve Humanity? Perhaps observation of Humanity’s place in Earth’s complex ecology can provide some conclusions. Even in this age of ever-increasing respect for the intelligence of our fellow mammals, there is no animal, even among the great apes, that exhibits anything approaching the intelligence of the human being. Imagine any other earthly creature conceiving and then realizing a Bach fugue, a Mona Lisa, the complexity and variety of language or the laptop computer upon which this exercise in language is being typed. And this only addresses native intelligence, or raw I.Q. What about our instant discussion of the purpose of Humanity? What other creature wonders about his or her purpose? How many thousands of millions of human beings have asked the question, “why am I here?” Why does it seem to innately matter to us?
For the avowed Atheist, or even the Deist, it is difficult to find meaning in our prospective 70 or 80 years of existence. He or she must satisfy the need for human relevance by being satisfied with human history. Each must create his or her own individual relevance by latching onto some concept of contributing 70 or 80 years to the pool of relevance. Without human history there is no human relevance. At the next mass extinction there is no longer even human history so therefore no universal relevance. Just emptiness. Or, at best another temporary bubble of relevance being evolved on another planet somewhere in the Universe.
For this discussion, the acceptance of the hypothesis of a caring, purposeful creation dictates an assumed relevance. Whatever relevance Humanity has is dependent on that hypothesis. The currently accepted age of the Universe as being greater than 13 billion years hints at an eternally living creator, or even one who is exempt from constraints of time and space. That implies an eternal relevance, reaching even beyond our current Universe, which is indeed not exempt from constraints of time and space.
As taken-aback as we may be with our own mortality of 70 or 80 years, in fact, none of us is physically more than seven years old. Every cell in our bodies is replaced approximately every seven years, including brain cells. Our lives, our memories, our experiences are merely, to put it in computer science terms, a virtual process running on a continually upgrading piece of hardware. Like computer software, such a virtual process should theoretically be capable of being “ported” or migrated to a different hosting “platform” or hardware technology. One capable of overseeing the creation of our mental processes in the first place would be capable of performing such a port, even to a platform in another plane of existence. In other words if this consciousness and life that we are experiencing can continue to run on some transcendent plane, exempt from time and space, then this life could be merely “practice” for a more permanent, and conceivably more relevant, existence. That assertion carries with it a ray of hope for eternal human life and where there is hope there is relevance.
Our current lives with all of their joys and sorrows, their frustrations and their seemingly random ups and downs could be contributing to the sum of universal, even trans-universal experience.