Monday, October 6, 2014

Creation Allegory


I was born and brought up in India, in a strongly Catholic family. Three of my sisters were nuns and there were several priests and nuns among my uncles and aunts. 

From childhood, I wondered why we kept being told: God loves you and loves everyone else too. Why did God also love the bully and the cheat and the bad guys too? Somehow it didn’t seem fair. (1)

Biblical View

With this Christian upbringing and schooling, my thinking was centered on the Biblical view of God and Creation. (2)

The bible relates that some time after creation, God was displeased and brought a great flood that drowned everyone – except Noah and his family. If God loved everyone, why did he cause all those people to be drowned? They were his own creation!

Then some time later God ordered Abraham to kill his son Isaac. Obediently, Abraham was ready to do the foul deed; I questioned the man’s love for his own son. My bible history book showed a picture of Abraham with a knife raised, intent on the murder.  But, just in time God intervened and provided a convenient lamb to be sacrificed instead. What a cruel trick on a dedicated servant!

I never understood how God could be so cruel to Job, his loyal devotee.  He took away Job’s wealth, health and even his loved ones, piece by piece, one by one, just to prove to the devil how much Job loved him. Then, after taking everything away (including  killing off  Job's wife and family), after Job proved that he was still faithful, God gave it all back! To me, this seemed cruel and even hateful.

Occasionally, God got displeased with people’s bad behaviors. He killed off whole cities (Sodom and Gomorrah) while saving a selected few people – with a catch: He cautioned them to not look back at the destruction as they were leaving. Then, poor Lot’s wife was turned to salt, simply because she looked back. Huh? Why was God so neurotic? I couldn’t help wondering about the gullibility of the storyteller who expected me to believe all these things without questioning them.

God loves Man – why?

As I grew up, I sometimes brooded over the mystery of why God loves us all, to the extent that he sent his own son to save us. I wondered: Wasn’t God omnipotent? Why didn’t he simply produce a couple of miracles to save the people He loved, instead of this awful agony and suffering that Jesus had to go through?

These thought flitted through my mind now and then. I discussed them with some among my family, nun-sisters and others, but was never quite satisfied with the answers.

Then, just recently, I found a story that made things fall into place – at least for me. The title was “Sole Solution”, written by Eric Frank Russell, a British author best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. (3) (4) (5)

Below, I’ve provided a link to the complete text. Here’s my summary

Creation Story

It brooded in darkness and there was no one else. Not a voice, not a whisper. Not the touch of a hand. Not the warmth of another heart. Just darkness. Solitude. Its torments were those of boredom, loneliness, mental and physical sterility.  

No hope of rescue from elsewhere. No sorrow or sympathy or pity in another soul, another mind. No doors to be opened, no locks to be turned, no bars to be sawn apart. Only the thick, deep sable night in which to fumble and find nothing. It could touch and sense one thing only. And that was self.

Eternal confinement where all was black and silent and nothing stirred. Imprisonment without prior condemnation.  Punishment without sin. The unbearable that had to be borne unless some mode of escape could be devised.

The only available resources with which to overcome his predicament were those secreted within self. It must be the instrument of its own salvation. How? It was the ultimate scientist.  This was the ultimate challenge to Its capabilities.

The easiest escape was via the imagination. But dreams are not enough. They are unreal and all too brief. The freedom to be gained must be genuine and of long duration. That meant It must make a stern reality of dreams, a reality so contrived that it would persist for all time. It must be self-perpetuating. Nothing less would make escape complete.

So It sat in the great dark and battled the problem. There was no clock, no calendar to mark the length of thought. There were no external data upon which to compute. There was nothing, nothing except the workings within Its agile mind. And one thesis: no problem is beyond solution.

Then the ultimate scientist found the solution. It meant escape from everlasting night. It would provide experience, companionship, adventure, mental exercise, entertainment, warmth, love, the sound of voices, the touch of hands.

The plan was anything but rudimentary. On the contrary it was complicated enough to defy untangling for endless eons. It had to be like that to have permanence. The unwanted alternative was swift return to silence and the bitter dark.

It created a mighty dream of Its own; a place of infinite complexity schemed in every detail to the last dot and comma. Within this It would live anew – but not as Itself. It was going to dissipate Its person into numberless parts, a great multitude of variegated shapes and forms each of which would have to battle its own peculiar environment.

And It would toughen the struggle to the limit of endurance by unthinking Itself, handicapping Its parts with appalling ignorance and forcing them to learn afresh.

It considered “free will”. Without that, Its creation would simply be automatons – the universe would be a gigantic, mechanistic plaything. So, allowing Its creation to exercise free will would be the ultimate gift.

It would seed enmity between them by dictating the basic rules of the game. Those who observed the rules would be called good. Those who did not would be called bad. Thus there would be endless conflicts within the one great conflict.

When all was ready and prepared It itself would no longer be one, but an enormous concourse of entities. Then Its parts, using free will, must fight back to unity, trust, goodness and Itself.

But first It must make reality of the dream. That was the test! The time was now. The experiment must begin.

Leaning forward, It gazed into the dark and said, “Let there be light.”




My Own View of Creation

As I ponder the vastness and complexity of Time, Space and the Universe from my own infinitesimal viewpoint, this creation allegory makes a lot of sense. 

God is not some remote creator, but rather the essence of the universe that brought it into reality. The moment of creation was what may be considered the “big bang”. No one has yet explained how and why that occurred. This at least provides a rational back-story that somehow makes sense.

In the present moment, the here and now, God is not some remote observer or judge, but an active participant through you and I and every part of creation.

References:

  1. Nine Views of Creation: http://goo.gl/6A7wZJ
  2. Biblical Views of Creation: http://goo.gl/IPKsn1
  3. Eric Frank Russell – Background & Bio: http://goo.gl/5hhEOe
  4. “The Sole Solution” by Eric Frank Russell  - full text: http://goo.gl/vQYxTB
  5. Hear an excellent reading of, “The Sole Solution”: http://goo.gl/kgHcQV 
Jim Pinto
7 October 2014

20 comments:

  1. A Fool on the HillOctober 7, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    a bit cynical, but did Man perhaps invent God?

    a quick fix for a very complicated question?

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  2. Being Catholic as well, the ultimate supernatural question: where did God come from? I guess I'll ask when I arrive in Heaven.

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  3. Yes, the previous blog "Religions & Faith-based Beliefs" includes this comment: "God did not create Man; Man created God".

    Most complicated questions really have simple answers.

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  4. I've been fascinated with religion since my teen years and I've noticed a difference between what I call foundation and established society religions. Foundation religions functioned, at least at one point, to bring order out of chaos. They are all about setting the rules for a society to function by. They almost always feature a harsh deity (or deities) that imposes a strict social order enforced by heavy punishment. They features stories of people being rewarded for loyalty and punished for disobedience. What seems cruel now was a way of intimidating people to function in a better society.

    Established society religions come into being in ordered, functioning societies (like Ancient Rome). They don't deal with bringing order out of chaos as much as taking people to the next step forward, especially in terms of morality. They tend to be more positive than negative, and encourage people to strive for higher ideals.

    Christianity is an established society religion that stayed connected to the foundation religion it grew out of. That's why it's hard to square the loving God Jesus speaks of with the hard-line deity we see in the Old Testament. The Old and New Testament were trying to accomplish very different things.

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  5. Ah, yet another attempt to pacify the Christian believers. Mental gymnastics to make the facts fit the irrational beliefs.
    When I re-read the first few paragraphs, and think back of the many sensible articles you've created, I convinced myself that you are just trying to get believers to give their head a shake.
    I hope, Jim, that you had your tongue firmly planted in your cheek when you write this stuff.

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    Replies
    1. Anon:

      I have made NO attempts to pacify atheists, or believers, or anyone else.

      In my two recent blogs: "Religions & Faith-based Beliefs" and this most recent, "Creation Allegory", I have give my own view explicitly, without any outside bias.

      Thanks for your feedback - that I have written many sensible articles. From my own viewpoint, this latest is one of my best!

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  6. It is a very good "stuff" for discussions. In nowadays enlightenment there is no place for such stories or tales some religions are based on. But many people need to show to be religious to make better business or gain other benefits (specially politicans).
    Menkind invented many "gods" since the stone age. They did need it to explain unknown natural effects as e.g. lightnings and the question "where do I come from and where will I go to". Many need any explanation not to get crazy and then they believe in this more or less. When the authority needed support, then religion became absolutistic (as e.g. catholic, islam, jew, ...).
    For me the reason to say not with me - but I let people be as they want to - as long as they let me in peace.

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  7. Well done, Jim. Most thoughtful. And I do NOT think you wrote or sent this item with tongue in cheek. You are bigger than that.

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    1. Thanks, Jack.

      No, I did NOT write this blog "tongue in cheek". I don't know how Anonymous got that impression.

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  8. I agree Jim..... one of your best.

    In my youth, I too, questioned many of the same things. But, I managed to sneak in a frantic prayer in the times when I felt nowhere to turn or to run or to hide... thinking, maybe there's a possibility this will work. Faith, it's called.

    Then, I spent four years in the horrors of the Vietnam war and what little faith I had left, disappeared. I decided it was foolish to pray to anyone or thing that could have prevented this, and didn't.

    In his, so called "infinite wisdom" he would have known this incredible pain and suffering would occur, and yet he went ahead.... "let there be light" indeed.

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    1. dear Bob, faith..trust..not very old words..are meaningless often. I feel so sorry for the pain and horror you have lived, may be living. War and horrors seem impossible to prevent in this place. Thank you for the good you are. Your writing, honesty, helps me too. R head-in-the-clouds + softness

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  9. Isaac Asimov has already sussed out creation for us. Read his short story, "The Last Question"

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    1. Thanks, Mulch! Just back from reading the story. Written by Isaac Asimov in 1956: http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html

      Multivac, the mighty, indestructible, "Analog Computer" keeps answering, "Insufficient Data" to questions about the end of the universe. Finally, when the universe is almost completely fizzling out, it say, "Let there be light!"

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    2. Another story goes like this: The world's largest, most powerful thinking machine is fed the total sum of mankind's knowledge from every source-historical, scientific, technical, literary, mythical, religious. Then, at the great unveiling, the computer is asked its first question: "Is there a god?"

      The computer replies, "There is now."

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    3. "A rational backstory that somehow makes sense." Jim, I love your blog, but I must confess, when I read the above line, I burst out laughing. With regards to various theories of the origins of the universe, I have yet to encounter this. Wonder and mystery shroud the deep past, may it always be so. I hope against hope that there is no sentient creative entity, because if so, this creature must be a monster beyond our wildest horror filled fever dreams.

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    4. C'mon, Willishappy! This is an "allegory" - a story, a tale - that somehow makes sense. I was not implying credibility to the story. :)

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  10. Leibniz (1646-1716) German philosopher and mathematician (co-developer of Calculus) argued:
    1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
    2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
    3. The universe exists.
    4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.
    5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe's existence is God.

    Al-Ghazali, a twelfth century philosopher reasoned in three steps:
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    Based on their established intellect, you can trust that these men thought more about this subject than most of us. These arguments are presented by Dr. William Craig in his book, "On Guard". If you don't like this philosophical approach, his next argument is based on Thermodynamics! Excellent read for a scientist like you and your readers!

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  11. My faith was shattered at 17 when one of my brothers was suddenly stricken ill at 33 and died within 2 weeks. Left two boys of 6 and 8 years old. His career just leveling out after years of scratching out a living. A wonderful man and brother. So, the older I have gotten I still remember wondering how could "God" allow this to happen. My mind could not accept that this had any good reason. Thanks for the interesting read though.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sorry for your loss.

      The faith of many has been shaken up by the loss of someone near and dear.

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  12. The greatest problem in the world today is religion!

    The greatest problem among the religions is: 'My religion is the only one right! All the rest are wrong!'

    For some Muslims it is even worse. 'If you don't agree with me, I must kill you and your family. Why? I cannot have you telling my women that they can stop wearing their veils and hiding their faces. They are mine.'

    As for my own personal view, since I don't believe any of the religions, I must be an agnostic I suppose. So what is God? I don't know but certainly NOT like what any of the religions say.

    I believe in God. I don't understand him!

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