In His Image

After discovering the complete absurdity of my God-image (see Creating God in Our Own Image) I started working on coming up with a new one. Because of my quest to find the relationships between life and science and religion and spirituality, I have tried to build a God-image that works for all of them, incorporating not just what I learned in Sunday School and church and so forth, but everything I have learned from life, as well. It’s far from complete, but so far I’m quite pleased with how it’s turning out, so I thought I’d share a sneak preview.

I thought about power. God is all-powerful, so there’s a connection there that must be considered when painting my new God-image. What is power? When I think of the word “powerful,” there are a number of things that come to mind. Lightning, for instance, and all that it implies — electricity, heat, fire, light. All of those things represent a raw, pure, awesome, deadly kind of power. Emotion is powerful, too. If you’ve ever loved anyone, you know exactly what I mean. Love, hate, loneliness, anger, joy. They’re all as awesome and/or devastating as the lightning kind of power, they just take a little longer. And then there’s the more subtle and mysterious power of life. The germinating seed that can split a boulder; the elusive spark that turns a mass of organic material into a living, breathing, thinking being; the force we all know is there even though no one has ever been able to locate it.

Power is focused energy – or put another way, energy is the potential for power. So I looked for the energy behind the kinds of power I had thought of, and came up with three kinds: Light, Love, and Life. I wasn’t looking for alliteration, but it works nicely, don’t you think?

Science has scratched the surface of what I call “light” energy, but hasn’t really paid much attention to the other two. Einstein’s equation, E=mc2, relates mass, energy, and the speed of light, which leads me to believe that gravity is related to light energy as well.

In chemistry I learned how light can change to energy and back again without any loss — the amount of energy in the universe always remains the same. Light has an intriguing way of defying logic by existing both as particles and waveforms. Electrons zoom around in molecules in most peculiar ways, emitting or absorbing photons of light as they move from energy level to energy level. Quantum physics starts where general chemistry leaves off, exploring the interesting way bits of light and energy interact. Atoms that have been near each other can affect each other even when they’re not in proximity to each other. Photons behave differently if someone is watching them than they do when they’re not observed. Science gets really weird and illogical when you start getting into quantum physics. It’s an area where, I think, mostly what we learn is that we don’t know very much at all about anything.

Even though science doesn’t really acknowledge love and life as forms of energy (nobody’s written any equations for them, that I know of), the Bible gives some credence to my thought that they are. God is Love, it says, and he breathed Life into Adam and Eve when he created them, so there’s a connection there. According to the Bible, Jesus is the Light of the World, and science backs me up on the idea of light being a form of energy.

Back to chemistry again, when you study atoms and molecules, you begin to realize that the glue that holds everything together is energy. Energy is what keeps electrons moving around nuclei, and what makes atoms form molecules. Even though we think of ourselves and the things around us as solid and still, the truth is we’re all mostly made up of a bunch of empty space with a few particles scattered around in it, not at all as solid, at the molecular level, as we like to think it is, and not at all still, either. The fact is that all that empty space is not really empty at all; it’s really full of energy. Pulsing, vibrating energy that makes electrons zoom around and atoms form molecules and molecules form bigger molecules. Energy keeps all those particles from scattering off across the galaxy in a trillion billion different directions instead of forming a human body, or a coffee table, or an oak tree, or a rock. Energy. Life, Light, and Love.

So the oak tree and the coffee table and the rock and me — we’re all made of energy. And this is where my new God-image comes in. I think that energy is God. God is Life and Light and Love; He is the glue that holds the universe and the coffee table and me together.

Suddenly, my God-image doesn’t have to sit in a big control room full of 3-D video screens and super high-resolution projectors any more in order to keep track of things. When I stop forming him in my own image, I can let him out of the Gandalf/Moses body that constrains him to being semi-omnipotent. God is omnipotent and omnipresent, because He is in everything that exists. He knows when a sparrow falls from a tree because He is the sparrow. When I learned in Sunday School that Jesus lives in my heart, my little human brain interpreted it metaphorically. As it turns out, maybe I should have interpreted it literally. Jesus is God, and God is in me because I am made of particles and energy and that energy is God. When the preacher said our bodies are temples, he said it metaphorically. But I think the Bible meant it literally.

God created Adam in His image. God is Light and Life and Love, and He created Adam of Light and Love and a handful of dirt, and breathed Life into him.

Now that’s the right way around, I think. The particles that make up our bodies are the dirt. The rest of us is God. Once more, I had it all backwards. The “In His Image” part wasn’t Adam’s body — it was everything but his body. All of the invisible parts that made him Adam instead of just a peculiarly-shaped sack of mud.

God is in me, and I am in God, and God is everywhere, because everywhere is God. The oak tree and the coffee table and the rock and me — we are all God, because we are all made out of God. He lives in us because that’s the only reason we Are. If He didn’t, we wouldn’t Be. He loves us because we are part of Him. He’ll never stop loving us, because he can’t. To do that, He would have to stop loving Himself. And He can’t do that, because He is love.

All my life I’ve been picturing God with a body, because I have one. As it turns out, God’s body is us. Funny thing is, that’s what the Bible said all along. I was just listening backwards.

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