This post is a continuation of Considering the Existence of a Creator: Part I – Gerbils.
As noted in the prior post, in my most secular days, I would never say there wasn’t a creator, simply because I believed, and still believe, you can’t prove the lack of something. If anything, you can only prove that there is a creator. Then, like any nerdy kid into physics (I still regret not being a physics major), I read “Schrodinger’s Kittens and the Search for Reality” by John Gribbin. It’s a book about understanding the seeming paradox’s in quantum physics. Now, I’m going to try and summarize my point here, with the caveat that while I aced engineering level physics in college, whenever I talk to an electrical engineers about this, they tell me I have it all wrong. (Maybe it’s just that I’m talking to the wrong electrical engineers.)
Anyway, the point from the book that I took out of it was that matter is really a bunch of wave forms. It takes an observer to collapse the wave form into a reality. No observer means there is no reality – just a bunch of probability waves. An example is the paradox of a photon of light – it acts as a wave, but as soon as we observe it, it acts like a particle. How can it propagate through two slits, but then if we observe it, it only hits as if it went through one slit? John Gribbin doesn’t say “G_d” is observing us, but then, if you have a big bang and no one there to observe it . . . how, according to what we can observe of quantum physics, can the universe every collapse into anything? Where is the first observer? This, at 17 years old was the first time I seriously considered the possibility that there was a G_d.
So there you have it – maybe there was evidence of a creator. But does this creator care what we do?
In my summer between high school and college I landed a temporary job at an alarm system company. There were two brothers, I’ll call them “Moe” and “Larry”, who started together and were partners in the business of selling and installing home, boat, car, office, and whatever other kids of alarm systems they could sell. What was supposed to be more of a clerical position turned into reorganizing and computerizing their sales and customer data. (Many of my temp jobs turned out this way, actually. I hated the boring stuff and say I could do it better with a little Microsoft Access programming or some nice spreadsheets. Okay, so I’m a bit unique.)
While on the job, I saw all of their sales data and the amount of work each put in. Moe, the older brother, was in the office bright and early every day and worked from hard the whole day. Larry, the younger brother, tended to show up whenever and had a lot of extracurricular’s, like golf. Yet, when I created the nice bar graphs of their sales data, it was clear that Larry’s sales data was consistently about ten times higher than Moe’s. What gives?
Near the end of the summer, Larry, who, honestly, I didn’t know that well because he wasn’t in the office all that much, gave me a book, “Positive Imaging” by Norman Vincent Peele. Larry told me that this was the secret to his success in business and he wanted to share it with me while I went off to college. I was hesitant to read it because Mr. Peele, or I should say, Minister Peele, had quotes throughout from the Christian Bible, but Larry told me just to skip those, and since Larry was Jewish, I knew he wasn’t trying to missionize me. Since Larry was so successful in business, I thought it was worth a shot.
The basic premise of the “Positive Imaging” is that if you continue to place an image in your mind, and don’t let it go, it will happen. You can work towards your goal in life and get there. Sometimes there are roadblocks, but you keep your goal in mind and you’ll align yourself that way . . . and . . . he adds that G_d will direct it that way. The caveat, however, is that you could be directing yourself in a bad direction and come to do bad things this way, so you need to “test your idea through G_d” to make sure it’s right.
I tried it. First, I tried it with small things, like falling asleep quicker. Then I tried it towards having a girlfriend and meeting physical desires. Then, I tried it with larger things, like doing well that semester. Then, I tried it towards guiding me towards the profession I wanted. (Then one day I realized I didn’t want it, but that’s a different story.) Today, I still do it – I wanted to be on my own in the practice of patent law, and I got there. I can thank losing a job at the right time to that. Beyond my control, but exactly what I needed.
At first, I looked at this as any skeptic would – okay, this is just a game of focus. This can be explained through natural means. You can say that this was coincidence, or that was coincidence . . . but when you find you have power through, what really is a form of prayer – that is, requesting it from the only with that power, you can be directed that way. Then, we you start thinking along the lines of, “hey, I got what I wanted, but this is lacking in meaning” you start to add the “testing it through G_d” thing that Peele was talking about, and making sure you’re doing the right thing. When you look back at your “moral” versus “amoral” actions, and “passing it through G_d” before you do something, you find meaning and purpose in your actions. That puts you dangerously close to crossing that scary line between, “maybe there’s a creator” and “there’s a creator who is involved in the world!”
The problem was, after I got everything I wanted in college (not necessarily passing it “through G_d”), I was miserable. I had straight A’s, including in Organic Chemistry, a job making more money than I needed in college, a girlfriend, and I was miserable. True story.
This is where “kodesh” comes in. That’s for another article, but the short version is that “kodesh”, usually translated as “holy”, really means, “to separate.” As in, “to separate good from bad, the pure from impure” to quote Vayikra [The Book of Leviticus]. This is where meaning comes in – by categorizing and choosing, but the only way we know if we’re choosing correctly is to be guided by the “instruction manual” given to us by the Creator. With the exception of perhaps certain innate truths (such as not to murder or steal), anything less than a connection to a source is really just a matter of a choice, based largely on what the world around you is telling you is correct. This changes based on the whims of the populace (so it seems) and therefore, what you consider the right political cause of the day is more likely than not going to be seen as meaningless and backwards in 100 years anyway.
This leads me to . . .
When you look at the world differently, you see it differently. The Jewish view of this, is basically that – the creator made us to have a relationship with us, but in a relationship, it takes two. We do say that G_d helps man in the way he wants to go. We see that in desert, the spies were told they could spy on the land of Israel because that’s what they wanted to do, and like a father will say to a child, “okay, I don’t think you should do this, but if you want to go try and learn the consequences yourself, you can go.” So too, when Bilaam insists on cursing the Jews in the desert, it’s pretty obvious to the reader that he shouldn’t go – after all, his donkey refuses to go and an angel appears before him to tell him not to go. However, in the midst of things, Bilaam doesn’t see that – he sees what he wants to do and so he is let continue on his path, albeit with instructions. (This is all in Bamidbar [Numbers].)
The problem with the spies and with Bilaam is that they did not pass their actions through G_d – the internal moral compass that we have, unless we broke it already. Certain things are innate within all human beings – we call them the 7 Noachide laws. These are laws given to Noach [Noah] for all man kind, as written in Bereshis [Genesis]-
- Prohibition of Idolotry
- Prohibition of Murder
- Prohibition of Theft
- Prohibition of Sexual Immorality
- Prohibition of Blasphemy
- Prohibition of eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive
- Establishment of courts of law
Further than that, the extent that you reach out and say, “G_d, I recognize that you are the creator and I wish to do your will” is the extent that G_d will reach out and make the will of G_d into your will:
“Do His will as if it were your own, so that He will do His will as it were yours. Nullify your own will before His so that he will nullify the will of others before you.” (Pirkei Avos 2:4)
Thus, to find meaning, purpose, and ultimately, something that lasts beyond the destruction of the physical world, or for that matter, for generations and generations, is to connect to ultimate truth. One must realize that, yes, we are mortal man and the the physical world is heading towards eventual destruction no matter what we do. Therefore, we can live in depression, or we can connect to something higher and find that there is a world beyond the physical and there is actually a creator who creates us and cares what we do. We’ve given the chance to explore and figure that out because, while G_d could create robots that just praise G_d all day long (we call these “melachim” or “angels” who, have in fact been created and are spiritual beings unsubjegated by the decay of the physical world), that this isn’t a very deep relationship. A deep relationship is one of choice –
“A person is led in the direction he wants to go.” – Talmud.
Everything in the world depends solely upon will. – Zohar, Terumah 162
Through this world, we can choose. We can choose destruction or we can choose to have a relationship with the creator. If we choose the later, we will see that back at is. If we choose the former, we will see a pretty bleak world.