The God Word
Many intelligent people are not particularly fond of the God word. It has all kinds of baggage, and not least a lack of critical thinking. But I’m going to use the word to indicate “all there is”. Of course the only “all there is” is the totality that we know, and as modern science shows, that is quite limited. But there will be no appeals to supernatural notions, and nothing that people cannot validate for themselves.
To say that the word God is synonymous with “universe” would not be correct, although I have used the words interchangeably in the past. For most scientists the universe is what is observable. But we have evidence now that there may be many universes – a multiverse, and we have no real idea what these other universes might be like, and they might not be observable by us. There is also the world of thought and ideas. Again, for the scientist, the universe is contained in time and space and is subject to causality. Ideas exist outside time and space – they do not occupy any space or have mass, and some ideas simply do not change with time – the idea of a circle for example. The geometry of a circle is exactly the same today as it was two thousand years ago, and will be exactly the same ten thousand years from now. So I include the world of thought in the idea of God, even though thought exists outside the space-time continuum.
Finally a word on materialism versus idealism. Most scientists believe that thought emerges from matter, and specifically brains – all is matter. The idealist thinks that matter emerges from thought – the only world we know is the simulation created by our brain (including the brain). In the end it doesn’t matter. Whether we call existence matter or thought is not important – they are just words. There is existence. If you doubt this then read no further.
The Properties of God
It might seem presumptuous to list the properties of God, and not least because religion would say I’m being profane. But I really don’t care about the objections of religious people, and besides I have defined what I mean by “God” above – all there is. So here we go:
- Existence. There is something instead of nothing. I find this the strangest of all things. There is something happening. I experience things. I see things, hear them, taste them, feel them, think them – an incredibly rich world of which I am a part. None of it is a result of any effort on my part – I am an effect, not a cause. God’s first property is existence.
- Expression. God is not static or homogeneous. Things emerge from other things. Small structures join together to form larger structures. From the photon to a human being is a massive journey in emergent order – a form of expression. God is expressive, and every part of existence expresses. This is not a conscious effort – there is nothing supernatural here. This is just the way things are – it is a property of God.
- Unconditioned. We are conditioned beings. What we think, do and feel is conditioned by what is around us. I cannot walk through a wall, think more than one thought at a time, and I need to drink water or I die within a few days. God is unconditioned. If it was conditioned it would mean there was another force doing the conditioning. But we’ve already said that God is all there is, and so there is no outside force placing constraints – hence the very real possibility that there are infinite universes and an infinite variety of universes.
- Unified. Everything affects everything else in some way or other. The mass of your body is affecting the motion of the Andromeda galaxy – be it very, very small. The more we delve into the nature of things, the more we find that God is a large connected whole – quantum entanglement being a contemporary illustration of this.
- Power. The universe is not here one minute and gone the next. It has persistence, and as a manifestation of God, it would be reasonable to assume that God manifests the power of existence on a continuous basis without any glitches.
Finally we need to say a few words about what God is not. God is not good. The word has no meaning for an unconditioned entity. If God was good, it would mean it was constrained by some laws it did not create. Neither is God a creator. This would imply purpose, and purpose would imply lack. It is’t reasonable to think of “the all” experiencing lack. God manifests in the only way it can, but equally the permutations of manifestation will be infinite.
So why even think about this? The reason is simple enough. The more we understand God, the more we can order our lives to the reality of the world we live in. It also allows us to get a sense of how we fit in – tiny, tiny emergent phenomena in a seemingly endless manifestation.