Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Attributes of God

We learnt, in the old days, of Mass and Distance, Duration and Energy; we learnt of the Fluid Electric and the Power Dynamic. These we learnt were the fibres and the sinews of the universe, the impulses and the machinery. And if there was a God, He had to be beyond all these things.

So as we learnt more and more, the boundary seemed further and further, our horizon wider and wider. And still we said, if there is a God, He has to be beyond all these things. Which seemed to us that, if true, it meant that God was further and further away, and had less and less space.

For we filled all the space of our thought with names and named things, and if what we named was not God, then why, of course, there was always 'beyond' for God to be in. This was when we were young and foolish; we thought of our powers to name and to identify as great powers and mighty.

But what we failed to see was that we could name every molecule in our little puddle (and for every 18 grams of it, there were 600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or so) such molecules) and give names to every possible interaction between each one (and of those there were many more) — and this was not yet wisdom, nor power, nor majesty. For being part of a puddle, and knowing about water, and each molecule, and on our scale, the differences between them (for no two molecules can be the same, according to the High Priests of the Quantum) and what they did — these were nothing compared to the greater molecules beyond, and beyond, and beyond.

And still, we said, well, God is not a water molecule, and we can see all that is, it is all water molecules, and perhaps, the forces of van der Waals, the temporary loves and hates of evanescent dipoles, and above all, hydrogen bonding — and within all, covalent bonding, and around all, perhaps gravity. So God, if there is God, is beyond that.

One day, another puddle was consumed by fervent heat, and its elements laid bare. And in that one blinding moment, we realised that there was oxygen, and hydrogen, and smaller things than that, including a binding energy that we could not have known. And all these things we tried to name, even as the names sublimed in the radiance of the final moment. This fascinated us.

Yet another puddle was consumed by a plant, and photosynthesis occurred in the sunlight and carbon was added to the vocabulary. But though there were also magnesium and nitrogen and phosphorus and many other elements, the new universe of carbohydrates did not see them, and rejected them. We were quite sure that such things must exist, but they were beyond our experience, and we saw them not, and wondered at shadows.


The man sipped his black, black coffee. He wondered what they would think, if there were minds dwelling on the surface of water molecules, and a molecule of 2,4,6-trimethylxanthine hove into view. He wondered what they would think of his spoon, unused, if he were to plunge it into the atrament. They would probably understand sugar, and not like it much, he decided.

He blew across the face of the hot, hot coffee. And he had compassion upon them.

But no, he was not yet God, although very soon, the coffee would make its way through the marvellously complex world of his biochemistry.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home