Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

“Glory Be” Is God

Originally posted on February 4, 2013

I speculate philosophically and theologically with certain friends, so when my pal Anthony Skrovan asked at lunch, “So what do you think was going on before the Big Bang?”, it was fun to dare to imagine an answer. Before I share it with you, though, a disclaimer: Of course I don’t know to the tenth power!! Still, daring to think about, to imagine the what it’s all about seems to me to be a form of prayer. Also, it appeals to the creative science fiction writer part of me, so I improvised this story:

Since the feeling of “this is glorious” seems to me to be the most sublime, I dared project this as a criterion: What of God wanted to do the most wonder-filled fun thing possible? I remembered there was a 1940s radio comedy show titled “Can You Top This?” in which comedians on a panel competed for the biggest laughs. (I loved and still love comedy as a form of spiritual seeing-through illusions, but that last interpretation of why I love it just came to me.) Anyway, once again, as I proceed in my myth-making, please forgive the lack of sanctimony and know that I acknowledge my profound ignorance about the way things really are. So just imagine along with me:

The game is what can we imagine that would be the most glorious? To me, the experience of delight and discovery and creativity—the “wow, it works!” feeling. So let’s dare to imagine God, knowing that we can’t begin to imagine it, but hey, it’s a myth. In this vast cosmos, the game is creation, something that works, and the game is no longer satisfied with eternity and an infinity of dreams from the breathtakingly glorious to the mundane to the frustrating and fearful—and we’ve all (or many of us have) tasted these. But they’re evanescent. Okay, let’s create a cosmos that sticks around a bit. Tastes linger and are at least vaguely remembered.

It turns out that the only thing that results in more “tangibility” is stuff, matter, and space to work in, and one-way time.

Another rule: No just making stuff happen, the ol’ miracle of “let there be….” Too “deux ex machina, too magical. Rather, the challenge is to work sooo subtly, through lure and the basic “rules” of the conditions or qualities that naturally apply to gravity and other basic “laws” of physics. Sure it’ll take billions of years longer, but really, what’s time to a god? So it would be way cool if it seems that it all happens most naturally.

So: Fun game! Can it be done? Sure. Start with condensed energy as protons. How to make these is already a complex game that our cosmologists have only recently begun to answer. But once you’ve got protons, what can you do with them? And other sub-atomic particles and basic forces.

Add gravity. That mixes two pretty elementary substances—but given sufficient time it makes stars. And the think is to imagine the glee of a kid who is creating with a chemistry set. I mean,  what works? Things that don’t work, like water molecules in which the angle between the hydrogen atoms are more than 108 degrees wide (the angle, not degrees temperature) tends to freeze too readily, but more than that tends not to condense into liquid. So several hundred universes didn’t work out just on that experiment alone. But ours did. So continue the construction.

Now we must add a category that modern science rules out. Why they do so is because they don’t know how to factor it in, and also because it comes too close to the peculiar ethno-theologies of human history, either East or West, with all the traditional mind-bending that entails. But be assured that in the not-too-distant future mind will emerge as a property of reality. It overlaps with complexity and entelechy—the potential within an acorn to become an oak tree, the potential within a fertilized ovum to become a person. Mind operates on as many levels of complexity and subtlety as matter.

Anyway, all this is part of the fun of creation, and the now-hypothesized understanding of how the cosmos unfolded is widely accepted in science. Many mysteries remain, though, that will be in part resolved as we learn more about mind, complexity, and the emergence of life. Other mysteries will be illuminated: entanglement—why particles at a distances shift symmetrically and we can’t explain how; dark matter; dark energy; the idea of curved space; the speeding up or slowing down of time in certain extreme conditions; what was “before” the big bang; how can people speak seriously about other dimensions?; etc.  Lots of not-insignificant “mysteries.”

But why, what for? My theory is the glory of creation, that this experience can full of godlike degrees of love, of yes, let’s do it. There is a built-in kind of “no,” of course: That is, death as a mystery is needful for life. The death of stars provides the elements that allows more complex life to unfold. Shall we grieve for every supernova? So, too, death of that which is alive is necessary to allow for evolution, a survival of the fittest. So on one level there’s a cosmic yes to the unfolding of the universe, but it requires a whole lot of “no” to allow the process to sort itself out. There’s a lot of death that is absolutely necessary for evolution, refinement, re-cycling. Here the feelings of self-importance by the most minute elements in the system adds to the glory by adding to the drama. It’s not as if there’s no caring, desiring, struggling, even at the most elementary units of existence. It’s not as if there isn’t a spark of inarticulate wanting to heal that fights sickness, of wanting to run when chased by a predator. These feelings operate, however dumbly, at ever level, and make evolution, existence, passionate and precious.

Why then all the pain, suffering, death, destruction? It’s not personal. It’s what happens, must happen, and seeing beyond it is part of what the Buddhists call “liberation.” These are questions that express the egocentric demand for exceptions to be made. We went through this stage in early childhood and never got over it. We saw it as a reward for being good. But the cosmos doesn’t work that way. In a way, it’s part of the glory of the Everything Becoming that it doesn’t make miracles and exceptions. (Nor can God choose to do otherwise. It’s enough just to keep the system moving forward, and sometimes even that isn’t possible.)

Note that the pain of loss drives efforts for medicine, technology, and all sorts of other activities that helps easy and protect sentient life and this, too, is part of the enjoyment. It’s like learning you can do something with less effort or pain using a tool or technique.

There are mysterious and yet-to-be-discovered powers of psychic alignment and healing, just as there have been a thousand major discoveries in medicine in the last two hundred years. It will continue, the advance, and yet also there will be limitations. We will disover these in time.

A Supremely Inefficient Process

The price of the criterion of “no magic” is to let “nature take its course.” As a result, it all depends on the natural quality of being inconceivably prolific. Seeds from a tree, squid eggs, sperm, stars in the sky, millions are born so one can survive and turn into another tree or an adult squid or you or me or having a planet able to sustain life. The cosmos is so big because it has to contain sufficient opportunities for innumerable experiments. Note that in this made-up myth, God is both gently willing certain circumstances—akin to the concept of “lure” in process philosophy—but forces nothing, no miracles, no commandments. The price is beyond free will, it is the vulnerability to chance, to chaos, and to the slim chances that something moves forward, evolves. A very high percentage doesn’t, but the numbers are so great that the whole point is that only the adaptive evolve.

Does God grieve? Yes and no. You are your hands and the organism that exists beyond your hands. We live on many levels, and so does God, so on some levels God is us and our desire to stay alive and our higher organization in which some elements must die for the good of the whole to survive. It happens in human embryology—many cells “voluntarily” die—“apoptosis”—so that the embryonic organism does what it should. At the level of the cell, perhaps there are moments of angst, but as we too must learn to surrender, so to the cells must surrender.

God is not a king, a person, with individual and limited goals. Rather, it is beyond knowing, but partakes of the glory of creativity in all its aspects, differentiation and integration, how many interesting ways can it be done, within each ecological zone.

Dying Into the Everything Becoming

That is one of my names for God, the Everything Becoming. It’s not to be thought of as ever being a stagnant process. Nor does God glory in Its own wonderfulness—this is too human, too narcissistic, to insecure. Rather, the word glory is my description for how cool it is, how rich, how fun, how amazing, are the innumerable ways that the becoming is advancing, transforming, at times retreating, in the great Cosmic dance. It’s so wonder-filled that it’s quite enough to surrender into it. Will “I” know what it’s like? I doubt that I can know that much, my brains, as marvelous as they are, are still far too puny. 


So it doesn’t matter if I’m wrong. What really is at issue is my appeal that we can all feel free to dare to imagine the what’s it all about. The spiritual exercise for me has been the challenge. The other thing I’ve learned is that everyone has his or her own mythic images, events, whatever touches and lifts them, so there’s no implication that you should buy into this myth. Still, there are some themes here that might tickle your imagination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *