Who or What Is God and Why the Mystery?
I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation and is but a reflection of human frailty.
– Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist, sometime philosopher (1879-1955)
Einstein’s “reflection of human frailty” is the biggest part of the answer to the title question. Humans created their God or gods based on their own needs. Each god reflects the needs of its human creator at the time of its creation. Einstein was not afraid to imagine something different.
Does this mean I am about to prove that God does not exist or that he does? In a very real sense I can answer that: neither.
The gods we have been taught about are human creations based on the limited knowledge (and needs) of their time. In that sense God is fiction. That is the God that atheists deny and that confuses agnostics. That does not mean that God does not exist. It means that humans have not listened to their predecessors who taught what was real. Not many predecessors, to be sure. The world’s most popular book was written about one of them.
In general, religions have taught about gods that were created millennia ago. They were days when people belonged to tribes and had distinct tribal values. Tribal values seem brutal and inhumane in today’s megasocieties. Yet those ancient religions today stick to their creations which can never be proven and don’t even make sense to most people in the 21st century. Moreover, some of the concepts are conflicted or inconsistent. God in the Christian Old Testament, for example, has distinctly male characteristics as the stern master and vengeful warrior. In the New Testament God takes on clearly feminine characteristics, as a mother who would care for, help, protect and coddle followers.
It is so easy for science to debunk the gods created by religion because, generally speaking, the claims made about each are not just outrageous, but actually absurd. This claim may seem offensive to those who have not actually studied the books about the god they believe in. Religious leaders, for exactly this reason, have felt no shame in giving the god they want followers to adore (and to give money to his place of worship) characteristics that the followers want to believe their god has.
Christianity made Mary, the mother of Jesus, into a virgin. The Bible makes no such claim, anywhere–some of the most modern Bibles may be exceptions as they have written what they want their followers to believe. But it makes followers more strongly believe that God must have been the father of Jesus of Nazareth. Most of the miracles in the Bible can be explained by a thorough knowledge of nature and a good knowledge of therapies that ancient peoples used to cure diseases. Cures that, I must add, today’s pharmaceutical companies do not want us to know because they want to sell us their expensive medicines. “Us” being the same gullible followers of religions that preach of fictitious gods.
In order for us to understand what God is we must discard what we have been taught by both science and religion. About God or gods, not about other things they have taught us. Neither religion nor science has allowed for a concept of God that is beyond the understanding of those who went before us thousands of years ago. I especially remember one man with rebellious ideas who was crucified. He taught what we should understand today, but his contemporaries did not understand. Those who followed him named a religion after him but did not accept his word about God. Yes, I am saying that Christianity is not about Jesus of Nazareth, but instead about a real person who was fictionalized to make him more attractive to followers. Jesus was a simple teacher and healer. His follower Paul was the real founder of the religion.
Wait, am I saying that Jesus is not the Son of God? What Jesus actually said was that we are each children of God and we can find God within ourselves if we know how to look. The Bible says that but Christianity doesn’t teach that, does it?
We can use what we have learned in all aspects of the sciences and humanities–in the past century more than in all of history before that–to look at a bigger picture. We can’t satisfy science, religion or our own curiosity unless we are prepared to at least consider possibilities that are different from the conventional thinking we have been taught from the past. In the case of religion, from thousands of years in the past. In the case of science, from an establishment with rules tougher than most religions, one which is prepared to alienate, even to remove certification from, those with different ideas.
Let’s begin with what we know. We know about matter because we see and feel it every day. It constitutes the body that most believe is who we are. We can see, hear, taste, touch and smell matter. We know about energy because it warms us when we stand in the noonday sun, when we drive our cars or when we heat our homes. Yet science has calculated, through observation and learned mathematics, that the matter and energy we know constitutes only five percent of what exists in the universe. That’s right, 5%.
So what is in the other 95%? People who read will quickly answer dark matter and dark energy. OK, and what are they? They can’t be seen because they do not reflect light or absorb it. Apparently we walk through them and breathe them and shoot spacecraft through them every day. We know when we bump into regular matter because it hurts. But when we bump into dark matter? Nothing. According to what we have been taught, that should be impossible.
Let’s review: science has proven that we can only detect about five percent of what science knows exist in the universe. That means that science admits that neither it nor anyone it supports has any real idea of what constitutes 95% of the universe. Science says that the 95% inhabits every part of the universe. We send spacecraft through it, we walk through it, we even breathe it without knowing it. Science says that.
Science does not say whether we walk through dark matter or dark energy. Hmmm. Since science does say that dark energy is responsible for our universe expanding uncontrollably, actually increasing its rate of expansion over time, I will say that what we walk through is dark matter. In that case we would be known matter walking through unknown matter. And we don’t know it. Well, you do know it now that I have told you. But it doesn’t push you around the way dark energy pushes the universe with unimaginable force.
We know that people around the world, in every culture on the planet and every one that has existed through recorded history has believed there is something bigger than what they are and what they know, something most of us would call supernatural. They have all prayed, in some form or another, to this supernatural force. With little effect, though many claim that when things work out the way they wanted them to work out their prayers have been answered.
When a supernatural force is deemed to have human characteristics, it doesn’t work out. If God gives us good things, why does he allow things such as the Holocaust and genocide, murder, drug addiction and mean mothers to happen? The answer, of course, is that only the fictitious gods are deemed to have human characteristics. Deemed? Isn’t it Genesis (a part of the holy books of Judaism, Islam and Christianity) that says God created man in his own image? That statement is so old that billions of people believe it is true. Because it’s old. And it appears in a holy book. What does that even mean, really? Is it not more true that people created their god in their own image?
Science believes it may have captured evidence that dark matter exists. Maybe. It still doesn’t know what dark matter is or does. As for dark energy it says we must just have faith that dark energy is real. Faith? Well, science doesn’t use that word, but what words it does use mean the same thing as faith. The mathematics of physics insists that dark energy must exist. Call it what you like if you don’t like the term dark energy. It exists.
I ask myself who would object if I claimed that dark energy is really God. That science has found evidence that God exists.
Why would science not come out and say that is a possibility? Because billions of people have beliefs that God (or gods) are something different. Any scientist who came out and stated that dark energy is God would find himself unemployed, with his name scrubbed from the annals of history.
I do not live under such threats so I will say it. The dark energy that science claims exists and pervades every part of the universe is what people for millennia have been calling God. Anyone who would claim that I am wrong will have no more evidence–in fact, even less–that his or her own god exists.
So what about this God? Did God create everything? Not quite. God IS everything. That includes you. You might call God a scientist. The universe is his playpen (sorry, science lab). The matter and energy we know, which Einstein said are the same thing, are his toys. I don’t say that sarcastically or cynically. I believe we should not put so much emphasis on the meanings and values of words. “Playpen” and “toys” are words familiar to all of us. If you attach values to them that are not intended or are not inherent in their denotative meanings, that is your problem.
Can we say, then, that science has proven the existence of God? No, not even close. Science would not even try. While people around the world have various concepts of God, there is no general agreement, no consensus that reaches even a bare majority. People disagree on the nature of God so science could never have a hope of proving anything that could never be recognized as a proof.
Science and religion can never agree about God because people can’t agree on what or who God is. Or what powers God has or lacks. That profound lack of agreement might be the greatest mystery of all. And the greatest obstacle.
This concept of God is not new. I have found it in elements of most of the world’s major religions. It may be found within the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth for those who willing to cast aside what they have been taught and look at the words of Jesus in the Bible. Let’s remember that Christianity is not the sole possessor of Jesus. Both Judaism and Islam consider Jesus one of their great prophets. That covers nearly half the current human population today. Of course the idea of dark energy is not mentioned by any of the God concepts because it is a name given by science in recent years and never considered by those who devised their own concepts of God millennia ago. God was assumed to be a mysterious supernatural force. Ummm, like dark energy.
Multiple times each week I read on social media where people make claims about God and even have the audacity to speak on his behalf with no authority whatsoever. This alone would make agreement between science and religion impossible as religionists mold their concept of God like wet clay.
The implications of this concept of God are either very simple or very complex. Simple if you reject it outright. Complicated if you want to consider what God could do, not do, want to do, want to avoid or take a serious interest in. These will be discussed in followup articles to this one. You may consider this as Part I, essential reading for anyone who will dare to venture into reading succeeding parts.
Finally, it will be important for us for future parts of this discussion to remember the law of conservation of matter and energy. Einstein said they are essentially the same thing in his well known equation e=mc2. Same with dark matter and dark energy. No matter whether something is energy or matter, it could become the other or even reverse its form. Nothing disappears. This will be important for us to keep in mind before reading followup articles. If something exists, it will not disappear.
[HINT: Does your personality exist?]
Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book of simple and inexpensive solutions to big problems of societies, and hundreds of articles which are available on the internet.