God is – and has been – forever
There is a saying that man only knows time. And, time knows only the pyramids. When Herodotus visited the pyramids nearly 500 years before the time of Christ, the oldest pyramids were already 2,000 thousand years old. But, a human time scale is insignificant to the topic at hand.
Some speculate that time is ultimately an illusion. Boethius (died circa 522 AD) said that God stands outside of time, and thus can see past, present and future all in one glance. In the Vedic conception, we are in a material universe that is bound by time. The transcendent spiritual universe is eternal and not subject to the effects of time’s passage.
For some, the “Big Bang” is the key event. For some unknown, and likely unknowable, reason, energy and then quickly thereafter matter (condensing energy) burst forth to give rise to our physical universe. From where? That is not satisfactorily answered in current cosmological theories. What caused this event? Again, this is not satisfactorily answered. We must note here that the chain of cause and effect would never end even if a plausible cause for the Big Bang were postulated. The line of questioning could thus proceed as: what caused the cause of the Big Bang? And, then what caused that earlier cause, etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
If we believe that God is eternal in the sense that He exists forever – without a beginning and without an end – then the “past” for God stretches back an infinity of years (or centuries or aeons). Infinity is one of those concepts that it is difficult for the human mind to wrap itself around. As well, concomitant with God existing forever is that He was not created. God thus is the ultimate (original) cause. (Again, from the Vedic scriptures of India, we learn of the view that God not only has a supremely transcendent personality but also permeates and infuses His creation with His substance so to speak. What we see around us in this physical universe is God’s material energy.)
Now, considering that God has existed forever, should we be so chauvinistic to assume that He never got around to creating sentient beings until we, Homo sapiens, arrived on the scene in the past 100 or 200 thousand years on this small rocky planet in one remote corner of one average galaxy that is among billions of galaxies in this material universe?! (Whether God created us instantaneously, or by a guided evolutionary process is beside the point here. God is omnipotent, and thus we ought not place limitations on His power.) For me, such an assumption is absurd and egocentric. Yet, here we have something of a paradox. Humans are not special nor unique as they are not (likely) the only intelligent race in the universe, yet they are special (and valued) in God’s eyes. We are not likely alone in the universe. But, possessing individual spirit souls, we are qualitatively like God. In Christianity, we humans are children of the creator God. In Vedic philosophy, we humans are part of God’s energy, we are a spark so to speak of His energy. God is infinite mystical energy and we are infinitesimal. Yet, qualitatively the nature of our souls is what we share with God, what we have in common with Him. Each individual is known to God and never forgotten about. (For those skeptics who do not believe in a soul, I would just say that the body is a vehicle of consciousness and not the source nor cause of our consciousness. Mind transcends brain.)
What does all this do for us? What can one take away from these thoughts?
A deep, profound sense of wonder and awe at the mystery of being. And, a sobering sense of humility. A little broader perspective on life – perhaps.
This is the inside of St. Anne’s Church in the Sunset District of San Francisco on Christmas Day, 2013. This Catholic church is also known as St. Anne of the Sunset. It is a well known landmark on Judah Street. The corner-stone gives 1931 as the date of construction. It is of a traditional style and is shaped like the Gothic cathedrals built in Europe during the Middle Ages. (On a personal note, this is the church we got married in so many years ago.)
A Nativity scene.
A closer view of the altar area.
Statuary in a side apse.
Thanks for reading.