What does the word “God” mean to you? Isn’t it fair to say that the word “God” has a relatively vague meaning to most people? When I think back to my early childhood when I was first introduced to the idea of “God”, I realize that the word has had the same vague meaning throughout my entire life. It’s always been difficult for me to conceptualize God, and it’s been difficult to discuss God with others.
Okay, let’s do a quick mental experiment to show what I mean by “vague”. Imagine for just a moment, that your mother is standing in front of you, and you give her a big hug. Picture her face in your mind. Okay, now let’s do another one; imagine that you’re sitting at a dinner table with your closest friend, talking about life in general. That image is fairly easy to create in your mind, isn’t it?
Okay, now imagine a favorite place that you enjoyed visiting when you were a child – a safe place where you felt peacefully connected to everything around you. Okay, now one more; imagine God. Picture God in your mind.
If you’re like me, the first three images were relatively easy to create in your mind, and you felt comfortable with them. When you attempted to visualize God however, perhaps you’re like me and suddenly drew a blank – you didn't clearly envision anything. That’s what I mean by “vague”.
So why does the word “God” have a vague meaning to so many people? Perhaps there’s a fundamental human reference issue that affects the way people think about God. Here it is in a nutshell... Ever since each one of us were born, we’ve learned to model things in our minds as sets. We’ve learned to use our senses to identify sets of matter that exist in 3-space and we’ve given each set a point of reference in our mind. For example, when a young boy looks out a window of his house and sees a tree in his backyard, he looks at the tree as a set – as “one thing”. The boy doesn’t look at the tree and envision a continuous spectrum of different system levels all interacting with one another. Imagine how confused we’d all be if we never learned to group matter into sets with certain characteristics assigned to each set. That would be equivalent to remaining a newborn forever, because when we’re first born, that’s how we see things – totally as one big fluid spectrum – no sets identified yet. In summary, it’s critical for a developing human being to learn how to view things as sets. By the time we’re grown up to adulthood, we’re all very good at doing just that.
Okay, let’s go back to when you were a child, when you first started understanding what your parents were telling you about their beliefs – what they thought was true at that time. When they started talking to you about “God”, your natural way of thinking probably caused you to envision God as some kind of set. Perhaps you pictured God as some kind of super-person that existed somewhere, but you didn’t know where. Later on as you grew up into adulthood, the idea of God probably didn’t change all that much, and perhaps you still envision God today as some kind of set of something, a being that exists somewhere in reality, but you aren’t sure what God looks like or where God is. It’s still vague in your mind.
I’ve become comfortable with a new meaning for the word “God”. It’s a concept that doesn’t have to do with a standard “set” idea. What I mean, is that you’ll need to twist your mind around a little bit here, and view things differently than you have before. The new idea is difficult to keep in your mind once you initially grasp it, because we are soooooo trained to think about sets and associated points of emergence, that you’ll naturally go back to that viewpoint after one heartbeat. When I first grasped the concept, I couldn’t hold onto it for more than a moment. I instantly converted back to my “set” thinking and my point of emergence ideas. So don’t feel bad if it takes you a while to train your mind to model God differently using this new perspective.
Imagine for just a moment that living forces are exerted by many different system levels, at both larger and smaller scales than our human bodies. Go to the extremes right now using your imagination, both in small scale (sub-atomic) and large scale (astronomical). Now imagine that those living forces are exerted across multiple fields and add into the net sum, thereby affecting the path of reality at each and every moment of time. What name would be appropriate to call the spectrum of 3-D scale comprising all system levels? The “universe”? That sounds pretty good since that’s what we’ve called it in the past.
As adults, we’ve learned to use our senses to identify sets of matter and to give each of those sets a point of emergence reference in our minds. And we’ve developed names for many of those sets to enable us to think and communicate about them. And just as you emerge at a “point”, so too do all other system levels, each with their own emergent characteristics, forces, and energy. Here’s where I’m going with this… The points of emergence are infinite in number, individual in nature, and each may be considered an "I".
God is different. God doesn’t emerge at a point from a certain set of matter, energy, and 3-space like everything else. God emerges across spectrum instead of at a point. God isn't an "I". That’s what’s hard to envision because humans always model things in our minds as sets and points of reference. So when you look out a window of your house, and see all kinds of “things” out there, you’re really looking at spectrum, not individual points of emergence. You’re really looking at the emergent characteristics of God.
So here’s how I would (humbly) define the meaning of the word “God”: That which emerges across the whole spectrum of all points of emergence. God isn’t the universe, God emerges across the universe.
So therein lies the difficulty of envisioning God. You can’t use the same method you’ve developed your whole life, of modeling things as sets, and assigning points of reference. When you think of God in this new sense, you’ll need to imagine God in a totally different way – a spectrum way, no certain place where God is – no specific point of emergence – God exists everywhere throughout the spectrum of reality.
The “will of God” idea fits in with that way of thinking. If the net sum of all forces across the entire spectrum of reality controls how everything is, perhaps we could simply call the net sum of all forces “the will of God”.
If you believe that “God created everything”, then that idea is compatible too. If creative forces are exerted at many system levels throughout the universe, and we consider God to emerge across the spectrum of all system levels, then it makes sense to say that God is the creator – God creates everything.
With that understanding of God, it's also appropriate to believe that "God determines the future", while simultaneously believing that mankind has free will and the future isn't predetermined.
There’s plenty of evidence suggesting the universe has changed radically over time, but that doesn’t mean there was a time when nothing existed. There isn’t any reason to believe there was a time when nothing existed, and therefore there isn’t any reason to believe that everything was created from nothing (that would be quite a big contradiction to believe in, to say the least – everything being created from nothing). Since there’s no evidence of that, why should we believe it? The point I’m making here, is that if something has always existed in reality, then whatever that something was, God emerged across it and therefore God has always existed as well. There is no contradiction therein. Something has always existed, and God has always existed.
One last idea about God… Right now, each and every human is a small part of God. Each one of us has the ability to exert free will – to exert creative forces that affect the net sum of all forces and affect the path of reality. In that sense, we’re each a small part of what comprises God’s will. In addition, your current emergent characteristics are part of what comprises God’s emergent characteristics. With that in mind, let’s consider what may happen upon our death.
Think about how a wave in the ocean is part of the ocean before it emerges, how it’s part of the ocean while it is an emergent wave, and how it’s still a part of the ocean after it demerges. In a similar manner, each one of us is a wave, traveling across different points of emergence at each instant of continuous time. All of those points of emergence exist at every moment of time, regardless of their associated emergent characteristics and emergent forces, and I am flowing through them like a wave flowing across the surface of the ocean. Upon my death bed, as my emergent characteristics change and the emergent forces that I exert become less and less, I will still exist as a point of emergence at each moment of time, and I will therefore continue to be part of what God emerges across. There will be no moment of time while I’m dying, at which “I” will totally cease to exist. The “I” that I am, is a combination of the emergent characteristics that are traveling as a wave, and the point of emergence that they are currently associated with for each moment of time.
There’s a yin/yang concept associated with “I”, and the part of me that has always been a part of God (i.e., the yang side – my current point of emergence), will always be a part of God (some people would call the yang side your “soul”). The yin side of me (the part that has emergent characteristics and exerts emergent forces and energy) will fade away and be gone forever just like a single wave rolling up onto a sandy beach. Just as the wave’s emergent characteristics and emergent forces get smaller and smaller with time and finally fade into nothingness upon the beach, so too will that side of me upon my death. But just as the water (the yang side of the wave) remains part of the ocean, so too will part of me remain part of God forever.
I believe that you, the reader, are part of what God emerges across right now, and there isn’t any other point of emergence in the entire universe that contributes any more than you do towards God’s emergence.
If we’re all part of God right now, let’s not discount our ability to give to the spectrum of God, to the system of life. Each of us affects the path of reality in our own way – we each affect the path of God. Let’s not throw that away by thinking that we’ll be more a part of God after our death than we are right now while we’re living.