God’s People—All Types of Stories

Imagine a God big enough for everyone in the entire world. 

What would that sort of God be like?  There is so much diversity across different cultures, a Big God would have to be adaptable, willingly accepting and embracing the world’s diversity.  The Jewish view of knowing that God selected them as God’s people was such an amazing and exclusive calling.  God used Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel and many others in incredible ways.  The stories held within the Hebrew Bible inspire millions then and now to engage with God in a personal way, to hear God’s voice in the trials and in the joys of each day. The Muslim view of only Allah and the visionary experiences of Muhammed were the right stories and perspectives to change the Arabic world.  Then there is the Christian tenet that there is no way to God except through Jesus:  the miracles, the sacrifice, the resurrection, the love, the forgiveness, the eternal life. 

These are the interconnected Abramaic faith stories, all starting with Abraham, the first father of monotheism.  The stories are shared generation to generation through the reading of the Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an.  These sacred texts hold the words of God and have changed innumerable lives. The impact of these stories on people and civilization as we know it cannot be underestimated.  God was right there in the middle of all these developments.  But intermingled in the pages of divine texts are conflicts, acts of cruelty and contradictions.  For some people, these and other factors are too great for them to buy into the religion inspired by the fundamental stories.  The stories are not enough to drive their passions or directly guide how they live their lives.  The stories do not reveal a God that seems right for everyone.  What was happening in other parts of the world?  Was God missing?  Over all of creation, did God place all of His attention on this one part of the world and let the rest of the globe move along without Him? 

What about all the other cultures?  Would a Big God leave India, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas and all the other civilizations across the globe, to live in darkness with no knowledge of the divine truth?  No way!  A true Big God would make Himself known to many people in many lands.  In Asia and India, the populations are great in number.  These are the regions of the world where believers envision many gods, millions of them in the Hindu and Buddhist tradition and in folklore of the Chinese there was a traditional understanding of a complex celestial hierarchy of gods.  When you are just a speck in the mass of humanity, like each of us is, wouldn’t it make sense that there were many, many gods, enough that there would be one who especially cared about and listened to you!? Yes!

Would the stories told by Christians, Jews and Muslims be enough to win the hearts of everyone to God?  It hasn’t happened yet.  Instead of uniting over their shared histories, the groups become fractioned off, sects form, with each holding strong to the stories that move them.  There is division, strife and clashes between groups.  Each group is sure they are right and everyone that doesn’t believe in the way they do, in the God they serve, is doomed.  Wouldn’t a true God be bigger than all the stuff that man allows to get between one another?  God wouldn’t want us to get bogged down with junk that interferes with our relationship with Him. 

Throughout history and today, there are so many stories where an encounter with God changes everything.  In the Axial Age, the inhabited world went through great intellectual, philosophical and religious evolutions that shaped human societies in Greece, India and Persia.  This time perior brought new ways of thinking based on the Hebrew Prophets and the Hundred Schools of China.  This period of several hundred years ushered in enlightened thinking, with people finding the “way” which led to a huge evolution in cultures, often associated with trends toward the greater good.  The “Golden Rule” for treatment of one another becomes more formally recognized as a beneficial rule for civilized society.  This philosophy becomes rooted in the individual’s conscience mind and in the tenets of organized religion.  “Love one another.”  “Do no harm.” These are the themes of behavior that lead to peace and harmony, a better way, a story with a good ending.  But people cannot just be simply sorted as right or wrong.  We are complicated.  In every person’s story, there will be opposition with people facing challenges.  There will be choices and actions that lead to specific outcomes.

Acting with love isn’t easy and there will be other drivers for action that work in contrast.  People want power, control, recognition, notoriety, material wealth, physical pleasures, you name it, there are dozens of passions and reasons people choose which result in love being a lower priority.  Enemies to peace and harmony abound.  We know in a physical world there will be suffering, disease, infirmities and death.  Love cannot conquer every problem.  We need to be able to tap into a universal super power, a creator, provider, protector, savior and leader.  However we describe it, name it, worship it, think about it, serve it, there is a force greater than the ways of the world.  This almighty power exists for everyone, everywhere, and with free will, each human can make their own choice as to how much they will be transformed to live a life at a higher level.

Not everyone will be moved by the same story, so there are many stories across cultures to guide us.   In my own life, I’ve found that God is present in a really personal, loving way.  I have my own story which secures my faith and trust in my God.  In the book “Life of Pi” (by Yann Martel, published in 2001) and later in the movie based on the book, the characters say that you will learn about God.  I have to admit that when I first watched the movie, I didn’t get it.  Then two weeks later, driving in my car, it dawned on me.  There was a question raised: “which story do you like?”  Pi had been raised a Hindu, fell in love with a Muslim and had an interaction with Jesus.  Pi had met God in a number of ways.  The author said that we can choose our story and that the one with God is a better story.  This God transforms lives, one at a time.  I might not be inspired by the story that changes you, but that is okay.  There are all types of stories for each one of God’s people.  If the story moves us to love one another, it is a Big God story.  We can each live out our own stories in a way where we are connected in relationship with the Divine, as a source of everything that brings true worth to living.  I like the moral of that Big God story best of all.

Top Scientific Reasons for Knowing God Exists: Part II

In my last post I talked about some of the principles governing the universe that point to a greater power.  This time, let’s build on those foundations…

Chemistry & Biology:  Atoms and molecules grouped together to form solids, liquids, and gases.  Chemicals make up everything we eat, drink, breathe, and every material thing in the universe.  The rules for how the atoms and molecules combine make logical sense.  They follow a natural order with ionic and covalent bonding.  These individual components of matter can be subdivided to smaller particles:  electrons, protons, neutrons and even smaller proteons, quarks and other tiny constituents still to be discovered.  Science has figured out how to make polymers and plastics in every shape and many forms but we have not figured out how to make iron, wood or a steak without using nature as the manufacturer.  The energy it would take to convert one element to another element is incredibly great, the process is most often cost prohibitive.  The elements and molecules cooperate in living systems to form functional cells, circulatory systems, DNA, allowing for growth, reproduction, energy to live and so many more complex biological processes.  Humans need protein as nourishment, other animals and plants fulfill this need.  Proteins are biopolymer chains of amino acids.  These chemicals are produced within living systems efficiently, naturally, with no extreme effort required.  Yet, if humans try to replicate the chemical or biological processes in a laboratory, it at times proves to either be impossible or it takes too much time and energy.  If protein and other biopolymer synthesis was cheap, it could mean the end of world hunger, drastically changing the face of our global economy.  Theories proposing that amino acids and more and more complex organic chemicals formed in the primordial soup of an early earth do not seem to take into account the chemical and biological laws that work against this happening randomly.  If we cannot make these biochemicals effectively today with all the ways our societies have found to harness the power of nature, why would it just occur all on its own millions of years ago without a Creator or Designer?

Genetics and Evolution:  We understand how DNA serves as the genetic code, encrypting life, a blue print for every species.  Scientists have cloned life in a lab but they did it using a living species, tapping into the reproductive process.  We understand how our bodies function, but when those functions cease to work, can doctors always apply the right techniques to resume the life processes?  If a human goes without oxygen for a long time and dies, why doesn’t pumping the person up with a supply of oxygen restore them.  Life, being alive, is much more than simply the sum of the biological and chemical reactions.  There is energy, drive and consciousness that define human life beyond that which is purely physical.  Science gives irrefutable evidence that evolution is valid.  There are also starts and stops.  One evolutionary branch may reach an end (think Dinosaurs) while another has many sub-branches (think dogs, with the added help of selective breeding).  There are also complex systems that would require multiple evolutionary changes to be self-sustaining until various related components join together to be functional (ex. The eye).  Some systems suggest non-reducible complexity.  Purely random mistakes in the genetic sequence leading to a survival benefit replicated generation to generation is not a convincing sole argument for the development of more and more complex, sophisticated, living systems.  What makes more sense is evolution with a “Divine Push” now and then.  Like an artist using paint strokes to create a masterpiece, God could use evolution as the medium by which to achieve His creation.  God wanted diversity and beauty, by pushing evolution here and there, He got it.  We see it everywhere.  Eventually God wanted to endow His creation with some of His own properties, emotional intelligence, the ability to understand, and to love, not just survive.  God adds a soul into His homo sapien evolutionary product.  God grants Adam and Eve this “something extra” which separates humans from the animals and establishes us as God’s Children.       

These are some big subjects to consider in such an abbreviated way. I’ve certainly over simplified the topics but hope I’ve given some ‘high-level” rationale for how science can support faith in God.

Thanks for reading and considering these ideas.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Top Scientific Reasons for Knowing God Exists: Part I

Top Scientific Reasons for Knowing God Exists: Part I

 

Science is a big driver in my life.  I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Michigan—Dearborn.  After that, I attended Wayne State University to obtain a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry.  I have a love for learning and try to make sense of things using logic and experimentation.  Some people might say that the belief of God is not logical, but I disagree.  I know that through an understanding of scientific principles and an open mind for what God wants to teach us, it all fits together perfectly.  I wanted to share a couple examples of how science points us to God.

The Big Bang:  All the mass in the universe was concentrated into the tiniest spec and blew up to initiate the creation of everything.  Pretty amazing that a huge burst of energy and light that occurred billions of years ago would be constructive when natural explosions humans have observed are most often devastatingly destructive.  Astronomers are convinced that our universe is still expanding and that the speed of growth is actually accelerating.  We’re used to detonations that are powerful and bright but die out quickly.  What is produced is not sustainable and reliable like all that we see in our solar system and beyond.  The logical conclusion is that God, more powerful than any natural force, used the Big Bang to create the processes and substances which would serve as His building blocks. 

The Laws of Thermodynamics:  The scientific laws of thermodynamics describe the behaviors of fundamental physical properties (temperature, energy and entropy) in a closed system.  Let’s say our universe is that closed system.  The first law is that energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system, it can only change forms.  On this basis, it is mind boggling that our sun and all the stars could produce such intense levels of energy for such long periods of time.  Stars are born and they die, with lifetimes measured in the millions and billions of years.  How does this happen if there is nothing beyond our universe, if we are truly in a closed nature system?  Science points to gravity and other natural forces that are not fully understood to fill in human gaps of knowledge about how the universe functions.  The second law is concerning entropy or the level of disorder in a system.  The law says that energy dissipates or spreads out to reach an equilibrium, heat moves from hot zones to cold regions.  In our universe we have some of the hottest objects (stars) separated by vast distances of cold space.  The center of the earth is thought to be about 13,000 degrees Fahrenheit, yet we live comfortably on the surface and the Earth has experienced Ice ages.  Why hasn’t the 2nd law of thermodynamics caused everything to reach an equilibrium somewhere between these extremes of temperature? Complex inter-dependent and independent forces of pressure, gravity, energy have achieved a relative level of stability in the midst of the extremes.  Instead of randomness and chaos, what we find is that nature is very organized and systematic.  This is true even though the law of entropy leads to less organization, a mixing of things.  Only God could infuse energy, order and systemization into our universe.  God controls the laws and He can break them if He choses.  This may not sound logical but who would have thought thousands of years ago that the comparison made in Genesis 22:17 would make sense? “…I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore…” Science knows now that this is a logical comparison.  Of course God knew it all along.

 

To be continued…

This is BIG…

Did you ever discover or experience something that forever changed your life?  Was it an “ah-ha” moment that suddenly filled you with amazement?  Or was it a slow realization revealed over time like layers of clouds moving away so that eventually you could clearly see the light?

It may take a while to process what you learned and to be transformed with your new knowledge.  Then everything changes!  You will never be the same!

Now, what do you do next?  Will you share what you know or keep it a secret?  I can’t help it, I want to share.

The “Big thing” that changed me forever was finding out that God is real.  I know SO many people already realized this over the centuries.  Millions have faith in the God or God(s) of their culture.  My culture taught me about the Christian God of the Bible, who loved me, listened to my prayers and wanted a personal relationship with me.  I wanted to believe it, but it seemed more like wishful thinking.  I am a scientist.  I need logic.  Natural laws must be followed.  I am an average person striving to live well and struggling to figure out the meaning of life.  Looking at the world, trouble, conflict and hate are all around.  Given our world’s condition, the Christian idea of a personal God is definitely NOT logical.  Especially when you consider that for God to be real for me, God would have to be real for every other human being in the universe.

NOT POSSIBLE, RIGHT?!

WRONG!!!

If we allow religion or societies to put God into a box, creating limitations about what God is and does, arguing about who is right, we’re all wrong.

God is so much BIGGER than the picture humans have painted.  A BIG GOD is there for everyone across this great BIG WORLD.  This is the God of the impossible, the architect of the universe, the BIG GOD that breathes life into all creation.

In “Our-Big-God-Blog,” I’d like to dive into the logic that let’s me know God is real.  I want to discuss and share ideas and stories.  I want to talk about books, music and life transformations.  Let’s consider events that defy logic.  It would be great to hear from others who have found out that God is a reality.  I want to hear from non-believers and people from every culture.  I’d like to work toward building bridges of understanding between different people.

Let’s create acceptance.  Let’s demonstrate love for one another even if we disagree.  Let’s be amazed together discovering how OUR BIG GOD is working for OUR BIG WORLD.

  Building divine connections for a divided world.

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