Knowing

park sunriseScientists … and even their practical cousins, engineers …are big on Knowing things.  They will, for example, spend 20 years and billions of dollars on a huge machine to establish the existence of a particle (the Higgs Boson) that no one will ever see directly and that perhaps 99% of the human race could care less about.  Scientist, when they aren’t Knowing, like to have theories.  However, when a scientist has a theory, it is much more than a notion or even a hypothesis. It is a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena.  In other words, it comes very close to Knowing  in that it can be used to understand and predict natural phenomenon.  At some point, it may becomes necessary to verify a theory by experiment, hence the development of the Large Hadron Collider to prove the existence of the Higgs boson, critical to something called the Standard Theory of physics.   I have been a scientist-engineer all my life and, while I have little insight into subjects as esoteric as the Higgs boson, I am inclined to look at things very rationally.  That is good for many things in this life but … in my case at least … it has been a hindrance to believing in God.   Yes, I know, there are some very rational people that believe in God.  It’s always seemed to me that requires putting a fence up around one’s spirituality with signs posted  – Rational Thought Prohibited.  My rationality is good at ignoring signs.

Perhaps nothing has helped me be open to spiritual ideas more than Rabbi David Aaron’s statement in The Secret Life of God that whenever we speak of God we are necessarily speaking in metaphors, because God is unknowable.  Metaphors help us understand, in a small way, some aspect of God. In my favorite metaphor, we are each souls, a spark of the Divine here to play a role, a character … our persona in the world.  Our character has certain God-given characteristics, strengths and weaknesses but we have free will in how we play the character we are given.  When we play our character according to the will of God, we participate in the continuing act of creation.   My rational side says, Well, it’s a bit far-fetched but if we need to believe, I can live with it.  And my spiritual side says, I’d like something more specific, but I can work with it.   And while it may not lead to Knowing,  it is enough for Coming to Believe.

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