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Archive for December, 2012

Whitewashed Memories

This is the place where my father spent several years near the end of his life. I visited him every day on my way to or from Randolph Technical College. I took him home with me and made his most delightful treasure – coffee, or we went on trips to family members or into the countryside. He had Alzheimer’s by then, so he never remembered my previous visits, only things about his early life. Who knows, maybe we did repeat the same experience over and over.

In 2009, I drove by the old Randolph Rest Home where he had lived in a room at the front on the right wing. I crossed the railroad tracks and drove as close as I could to the building and got out of my car. I spent a few minutes perusing and scanning the area. Memories flooded my mind and I had to prop my folded arm to keep my head steady on the car roof.  I could not speak, and there was nothing to say.

I’ll never forget the scene, the pristine white-washed cinder-block walls and chalky boarded windows. It was like angelic hosts had swooped in with huge vials of liquid holiness and covered the sadness and aloneness of that place, memorializing the spot set there amongst ancient oaks. It was a photograph for the soul, one stop along this railway of life, to say goodbye again to someone at a remote crossing along the way.

I had called this meeting between man and memory. It was heavy, yet buoying; wistful, but hopeful; quiet, with a heavenly haunting; even with the concrete and mortar, somehow ephemeral . I started the engine to my car, its hum concurrent with the relentless march of time’s continuum. There for an instant, I had superseded mortality.Randolph Rest Home

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IF GOD EXISTS, WHAT WAS HE DOING BEFORE HE CREATED THE UNIVERSE?

St. Augustine is the first person who answered this question. The question assumes that time existed before the universe was created. Physics has proven that time is a property of our universe and that the universe and time came into existence together. People say that God is “eternal,” which they think means “goes one forever,” but “eternal” really means “outside of time.” (85, D’Souza).  So we cannot really limit God to the constraints of time or even the physical universe. So, God wasn’t doing anything (like twiddling his thumbs), he was being God.

IF GOD EXISTS, WHAT CREATED GOD?

If you think of God as the source of everything else, you may have asked or heard this question. Here is the problem with the question “What created God”? If everything that exists has a cause, then there must have been a first or uncaused cause. Atheists like Dawkins argue that we cannot account for unexplained things – all that exists – by attributing them to another unexplained thing -God (The God Delusion,143).  But he is missing something in his logic. The question is what caused everything that exists in the universe, but it is not what caused everything that exists period. God is outside the universe so he does not fit into the question. I look at it, simplistically, like the electric light bulb. We use and enjoy and depend on the light it produces without ever questioning its creator, Thomas Edison. It would be laughable to say something like “Thomas Edison created the light bulb, but someone had to create Thomas Edison.” Or, “Who had Thomas Edison’s idea before he had the idea”? Someone did create Edison—his parents—but in the context of the light bulb, the charge would be ludicrous. And, no one had the idea before Thomas Edison had it. Dinesh D’Souza said think of it like a novel. I changed his illustration in Crime and Punishment to the following: In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen’s actions caused the death of President Alma Coin of District 13. But the author, Susan Collins, is the cause of the story on another level entirely. Someone may ask while reading the story, “Where did that character come from?” but they would never ask “Where did this Susan Collins come from?” The author, like God, is outside the narrative, as its creator. (86, D’Sousa)

WHAT CAN BE GREATER THAN GOD?

The argument goes this way: we can all conceive of a being above whom no higher being could be thought—i.e., God. If that which exists is greater in reality than it is in imagination, then logically God must exist. Think of it in terms of a musical composition. The musical composition existed in the mind of the composer before it was written down and played in reality. So, which is greater – that which can be imagined, or that which is real? That which is real, of course.

I see it like this: has anyone ever observed an animal imagining a being above whom no higher being existed? No animal has ever been observed building an altar, offering sacrifices, praying, mourning over guilt, or shaking a hoof (or primal fist) at heaven. But people do all these things. Is it because there actually is a God that we have the ability to conceive of God, and that that ability and intuition makes us unique in the animal kingdom? Just because animals cannot imagine “God” wouldn’t mean that he didn’t exist, but because we can imagine God means that he must exist. 

So, the question about God’s origin is in itself either a contradiction in terms, or a disingenuous attitude of the mind and heart . . .  or else plain dumb.

I relied heavily on a chapter in Dinesh D’Sousa’s book WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT CHRISTIANITY? in summarizing and illustrating this material.

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