It’s been called by one Christian minister and author the emerging question of our day, one that defines us.
I’d assert it’s probably the most significant riddle any of us attempts to solve when we begin examining our lives in a critical sense until our final breath.
Is a creator behind this mysterious state of shared temporary consciousness and the precisely balanced physical world and cosmos?
Being neither theologian nor philosopher, I have only the observations of a journalist and educator who for decades has written about human joys, heartaches, gains, losses and experiences. In the process, I have formed an opinion. That’s the best any of us can hope for when it comes to exploring the ultimate controversial question.
My view is yes, our physical, mental and spiritual selves, along with the mystery of consciousness that allows us to relate to everything in this place, is the product of intelligent design, or the divinity we agree in our diverse ways to call God.
There certainly are those who believe otherwise. But doesn’t almost everyone in the contentious world we’ve created disagree on much of everything today?
I’m speaking of my own beliefs and opinion which, while Christian, also leave room for rationale and the searching advocated in the biblical.
Seems to me many seekers look outward from our spirits and see endless horrors and troubles surrounding us, which naturally leads to asking why a benevolent God allows the stuff of nightmares to continually occur.
The nature of a divine creator, by definition and science alike, must exist on a plane beyond the realm of time and space our consciousness can perceive. And it must have an origin we can’t possibly fathom.
This also means the true nature of any creator must lie within ourselves, inside our minds and spirits made in his image, who enter this world as clean slates with knowledge of right from wrong in the ways our free will allows us to interact with each other.
In other words, the ways we think, feel and act will determine what we consider positive and negative results in our lives.
While skeptics dismiss near-death experiences (NDEs) as artifacts of a dying brain, I’ve come to believe they represent something far more spiritually valid for the millions who’ve reported them over the decades.
Scientists with the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, based on a 1991 Gallup survey estimating about 13 million Americans reported NDEs, determined that 774 Americans experienced NDEs daily. Today the Internet contains many accounts of such deeply personal experiences and lives dramatically changed for the better. The common denominator in the positive NDEs, most experiencers emphasize, is the importance of sharing love.
Is this why we respond so powerfully from our earliest years to love? Such programming must come from a creator’s instruction manual installed within our individual DNA to distinguish good from evil and maintain balance as we pass through this beautiful yet challenging and troubled physical world we create for ourselves.
What is it inside us that prompts natural responses to this profound need for love? Why do we even feel empathy and compassion for others, if not from the divine wellspring of those human traits?
Creating anything begins in the place where thoughts are birthed as electrical impulses then converted to action in order to create our reality (I must imagine a chair to build one). Love, empathy, compassion, sharing, kindness, and sympathy also stem from the purely spiritual dimension of prayer and dreams and, I also believe, our consciousness at birth.
Besides the internal nature of a divine creator, science takes note of the fact that our planet and the universe itself have incredibly finely tuned ingredients of elements and molecules to create and sustain life. For example, the earth has the proper atmospheric pressure to maintain liquid water at the surface and the precise amount to have seas, oceans and continents.
We are at exactly the right distance from the sun to create and maintain temperatures that promote and sustain life. Earth’s exact 23.5-degree axial tilt provides our changing seasons.
Christian author Ken Boa writes: “[F]or life on earth to exist, molecules must exist, and for molecules to exist, atoms must be able to bond to become molecules. This molecular bonding requires just the right amount of electromagnetic force. If this force were only 0.3 percent stronger or 2 percent weaker than it is on earth, molecules could not be formed, and life would not exist.”
The universe’s existence depends on its expansion rate, the author added. If it happened any faster or slower, “the universe either would have immediately collapsed in on itself or it would have spun off so fast there would have been no galactic formation at all.”
The list of these absolute necessities for you and I to exist is lengthy, stretching far beyond the boundaries of chance. The incredible complexities of a human cell or an eye are enough to make me believe in a guiding hand.
And so debates continue between believers in an orderly creation of consciousness and life as we know it versus nonbelievers who favor chance evolution of life emerging from ancient seas.
While making scientifically persuasive arguments for the existence of a divine creator, many books on the matter all seem ultimately to reach one conclusion. It all leads to matters of individual faith and personal spiritual experiences that defy physics and/or chance.
If you’ve had such a GodNod experience (as I call them), be sure to share it with me.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.