Jun 04, 2012

I am reading a book called Ignorance by a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University, Stuart Firestein, Ph.D. His thesis is that scientists do not go from one hypothesis to another, but rather they explore their own ignorance of how things work and then decide what the next thing they need to discover/research is. Science is not data-driven or fact-driven so much as by curiosity-driven. I am not scientist but I have laughed out loud at our lay assumption that scientists seek  factual knowledge; instead their own curiosity drives their motivation to discover this or that and that discovery leads to some answers and those answers lead to more questions.

This scientific attitude would be great if applied to all kinds of things, but particularly to our own knowledge of God. Instead of moving from certainty to certainty in our beliefs about God, we would allow our curiosity about the Creator to drive us to entertain the mystery(the spiritual equivalent of ignorance) of what God is and how the cosmos works, how we discover God and where that knowledge takes us. We would have to get very comfortable with not knowing, never knowing even a large part of the whole truth. As each small discovery challenges what we think and believe about God, we would then make the minute adjustments aligning our beliefs with this new information about God.

We’re pretty comfortable with the evolving nature of God as expressed in the Old and New Testaments from a vengeful, capricious God to the more merciful one of the Prophets to the loving God of the New Testament. Does this progression in understanding what God is mimic our own journey from the Super Parent of the child to the loving God that we come to know as an older adult? The Bible’s description of God is the most comprehensive we’ve been given before we start our own search for the mystery that is God. If we start with Jesus’ notion that God is love, that God sends the sun to shine on the evil and the good and the rain to fall on the just and unjust, already we see that God expends love carelessly and fully on everyone regardless of their goodness or sinfulness.

From there we have to add in our own experience of God through our own relationship to the Divine One. For this we must dig deep within ourselves to form the kind of relationship with God that is dynamic and real, that allows us to be the humans that we are and God to be the being that God is. Every experience of God then begins to change how we react to God; every new piece of information challenges the concepts we were taught as a child. We have to reach into our own depths to discover the child of God within that is our potential and to respond to God from those depths.

Each step towards that deep relationship with God builds a body of experience and knowing about God that sustains us in this interior journey.  Each step brings us closer to being love to all the people we meet, expressing that love from our own being to everyone equally, just as God expends love equally on everyone. I can only remind all of us of what our tasks are in getting to know who God really is, at least that part of God that is knowable. These are listed in no particular order: 1)give up your own will in favor of God’s, 2)open your heart to God and then to each and every person regardless of any differences, 3)give up the cultural biases and paradigms, 4)allow God to lead you in everything, and finally, 5) become available to God’s inspiration and healing on an ongoing basis.

If we let our ignorance and our curiosity about God drive our relationship to God, then we are living in the freshness of a dynamic relationship with the Creator of all things. So love, presence, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, etc., can find a permanent home in us and from there we are able to be a loving, compassionate, forgiving kind of person. As much as we can discover and rejoice in the part of God that is knowable, we have to remember that we will for the most part be acknowledging that the mystery that is God is far greater and vaster than the part of God that we can know.

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