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