by Kelvin Chin, Life After Life Expert
Now, before you get all excited, I'm not going to make any definitive statements about whether I think He, She, or It exists or not.
Because I don't think anyone can actually know — absolutely Yes or No.
Instead, I'd like to examine some of our beliefs about God,
and encourage us to think further about them.
God as Creator
If God is the Creator of the Universe, then there must have been a start to it, and there must have been nothing in existence before that beginning.
Scientists and theologians alike speak about a “start” to the Universe, the “Big Bang Theory” as the most popular commonly discussed idea. This is an intriguing idea with lots of flashy visual images conjured up in even the non-scientific, non-religious layperson’s mind.
But is it accurate? Does it make sense? Does it fit with the First Law of Thermodynamics — that neither energy nor matter can really be created or destroyed?
First of all, the Big Bang Theory focuses on physical reality. What about the mind? In other blog essays, I have discussed the distinction between the physical and the mental, the body and mind, and how they are different and unique from each other. But, even with their differences, the First Law of Thermodynamics tells us that even if we can’t “see” the physical object that may have been destroyed, its energy still exists somewhere.
So, where does that lead us? Let’s examine whether or not life itself is possibly eternal — whether the physical and mental energy that exists in the Universe is actually a constant that has always existed and never will be destroyed.
Is life eternal?
Many people believe that life is eternal. They may come to that conclusion through different routes. For example, some may believe that other lives go on and on after one dies, i.e., life on the planet still continues after death — they may view themselves as non-eternal, but that life in the form of other people’s lives will continue after they die. To them, this is a form of eternal life, where there is still conservation of the energy that was their life, in the form of others who may come after them. Yet other people may believe that their own lives may continue on after death — the idea of an 'afterlife' like heaven, or perhaps even reincarnation. In that latter belief system, there is a belief that the energy continues and the personality may also continue afterwards in yet a different physical form, a different body and a different lifetime.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that: “Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another.”
Essentially, it says that we are energy. Yes, we have bodies, but even our bodies are made up of energy — molecules, atoms, other small particles.
So, if our energy cannot be created or destroyed, perhaps we simply change form. We may debate, depending on what our belief system is, “what form” we change into. But, the First Law of Thermodynamics seems to indicate that energy is not lost — because no energy in the universe is gained or lost. It is the same energy that has always existed.
In any of those cases then, where the belief is that life is eternal, there can be no beginning or end. Because that is the very definition of "eternal."
So, it makes no sense to speak of Creation if one believes that life is eternal.
No source. No Creator.
So, not only is there no need for God to be a 'creator' if everything has always existed (which, as I said, is the definition of "eternal"), but also God could not be the creator. In other words, it's not just a matter of need, it's a matter of impossibility.
However, is it possible that there is a God — but He, She, or It has also lived an eternal life, as do we perhaps?
Let's examine our beliefs about God further...
God as Omniscient
"Omniscient" means "all knowing," it means that one is "able to know everything." It comes from the Latin "omnis" which means "all or everything," and "sciens", which means "knowing."
But, is it possible to know everything?
If it is possible, then there must be a finite number of things to know. It might be a very large number, but it is a number that is identifiable.
And what does that imply?
That means that everything that exists must have already been planned out beforehand, that there is no choice, no Free Will — that everything is predetermined.
But does that match reality? Does it match our experience in life?
We make plans all the time in life, and they often seem to change, and very often they change in ways that are out of our control. In other words, sometimes we make the choice, and sometimes the choices are made by other minds influencing circumstances that then affect our lives, and our choices as a result.
There seem to be an endless number of choices that any number of minds can make at any given moment in time.
And if that's the case, then Free Will, and not predetermination is the governing principle. So, it would seem to be impossible to know everything — every possible choice that every mind could possibly ever make.
Some people will say that God can know — that only He, She, or It has the ability to know everything.
But then, I ask myself, who would want to know everything? Of what interest would it be to a mind, especially a mind as great as "God", to bother with? Wouldn't He or She have other more fun things to do than to know everything about everything? How boring would that be? How petty would that be? And for what purpose? To control us? How unenlightened that would be!
God as Punisher
Some people live their lives in fear of God. They believe that He will judge them after they die, and that they may go to hell, not heaven. They fear that He will punish them for eternity.
How likely is this?
I think there are two basic reasons that most of those people hold this as a belief. They either think:
- That He is there to punish them to teach them a lesson – to make them a better person, or
- That He is a vengeful God.
Let’s look at this…
Is Punishment a good way to change behavior?
According to countless psychological studies that have been done around the world — No – it does not change behavior. So, if we assume that God is smarter than we are, I think we must also assume He must know about those psychological studies…. Therefore, one must figure that God would not punish people in order to change their behavior, full well knowing that it would be a waste of time.
What about Revenge?
The first question I ask myself is, why would someone want to worship a God who is mean and vengeful? Wouldn't that God (if He or She is as smart as He or She is supposed to be) know that revenge and punishment simply make the person feel worse, and therefore increase the likelihood that person would commit more acts of cruelty, and thus continue his bad behavior? And what kind of superintendent of the Universe would that be? Someone creating a world where people are miserable?
And so I wonder if revenge is just a projection from those people who would like to lessen their own misery by making other people around them more miserable. And that it has nothing to do with God — if He, She, or It exists.
God as Mystery
Some people find comfort in believing that God is 'the mystery' in the world — that He, She, or It is the source for all that is unexplainable in the Universe.
I think that need sometimes arises out of our insecurity in the world, where we experience things that don't make sense. And since we don't understand, we try to find comfort in imagining that there may be someone somewhere who does understand. And so we project that need onto God.
For me I call it the "Wonder of life" — and I ask myself, why do we need to have it all figured out? Is it even possible to figure it all out, if life is all about countless possibilities and choices?
This mystery is what some people call "The Unknown."
Why not just enjoy the mystery? Live life in the present, "turn within" and know oneself enough so that we are self-confident, secure within ourselves, and don't need to know everything to be comfortable, to be happy.
God as Love
Personally, if I have to pick one that makes the most sense, this would be it.
Love as in acceptance. As in nonjudgmental. As in not cruel. Not vengeful. Not harmful.
Love as in not needing our love for His or Her or Its fulfillment. Nor for its happiness. In a sense, appreciative but not caring about whether we love or don't love Him, Her, or It. Appreciating that we have Free Will, innumerable choices. And that freedom of choice is an expression of that love.
If I had to choose one, this one makes the most sense to me.
The bottom line is that I think we should think more about these long-held beliefs about God that, across the many world cultures, we have held for millennia.
Do they still serve us? Are they still useful in helping us be thoughtful, productive, happy human beings? Do they match with our experience in daily life? Do they match with reality?
Or, are they merely a continuation of superstitions and beliefs based on misunderstandings and assumptions that we never really assessed or thought about to see if they made sense — or maybe we just inherited them from our ancestors, our families — without questioning or seeing if they fit our lives today.
These are the types of questions I encourage us to ask ourselves.
And regardless of where we come out in our analysis, I think it’s a good practice to revisit our theories and concepts from time to time, to see — with our “new” minds that have experienced more of life and thus have gained new insights over our lifetime(s) — whether those theories and concepts still fit. Because those theories and concepts affect how we practice, how we live our lives.
Ongoing thought is a good thing.