Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ever Smaller

George said, “God is short and fat.”
Nick said, “No, He’s tall and lean.”
Len said, “With a long white beard.”
“No,” said John, “He’s shaven clean.”
Rhonda Rose said, “He’s a She.”
I smiled but never showed ‘em all
The autographed photograph God sent to me.

–Shel Silverstein

We think we know. We think we know what God looks like and what God wants. We think we know where stars are born, and how. We think we know what the stock market will do. Or the weather. We think we know which political party is right. We think there is a right...and wrong.

My mother told me once that something was against the moral laws of the universe. Wow, I thought, how does she know what the moral laws of the whole universe are?

And now I’ve learned that there may be multiple universes, or a multiverse. The cover story in the current Newsweek magazine posits the possibility of billions of big bangs, each creating a unique universe, made up of energy and matter that we might not even recognize in ours. We’ve come a long way from believing that the cosmos revolves around our flat world on the back of a turtle.

The concept of a multiverse comes as no surprise to me. I have known for years about these other universes. That’s where my keys go when I put them down and they disappear.

I marvel at people’s certainty about things. I have friends of different faiths, each so sure that their faith is the only one that leads to, well, wherever it is we want to be. One person’s faith is so detailed that she can pinpoint precisely the timing of specific events lost in the mists of history and myth, and events that will happen in the future. I asked her if it was important to believe in the details. Oh yes, she said. I asked her if members of her faith ever disagreed about any of the details. Oh no, she said. Hmmm.

I marvel at the vehement conviction of opposing political parties. Recent years of politics in the US have led up to an election year that promises little except further polarization. The parties are moving further apart at ever increasing speed just like the galaxies in our universe.

I marvel at the exponentially increasing information that is available to me in seconds with a few clicks on the computer. You might think that knowledge would increase just as rapidly as access to information. And yet, what I know for sure seems to grow ever smaller. As the universe expands my sphere of certainty shrinks until it threatens to collapse into a black hole.

The funny thing is that I’m okay with that. The less I know, the less I need to know. Frankly, it’s a relief.

My mother would probably say that’s against the moral laws of the multiverse.

related posts: I’m Right–So What; The Curiosity of Not Knowing; What I Know for Sure

57 comments:

  1. I think that, for many people, there is an intense need to be certain, to know that they KNOW. When it comes to matters of God or religion, too many attempt to put Him into their imagined boxes instead of allowing the reality of multiverses, all created by Him, to take them soaring above their limited thoughts and perceptions.
    Wow! And, to think this God cares for us - mere moats of dust; the blink of an eye . . .
    Beautiful and stirring reflection, Galen!
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martha, The more we know about the universe/multiverse, the smaller we get! It is amazing indeed. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  2. You are great! I love to read your thoughts on spiritual matters. It reaffirms my lack of commitment to religion. The truth is that, in a way, I envy people who believe they have all the answers. I remember that it was a comforting feeling and yet I cannot move backwards no matter how appealing the notion sometimes seems. If God is a loving father, then surely he will understand my personal truths. LOVE the Shel Silverstein poem! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim, I love my church because everyone is welcome there. Everyone. My minister explained it this way--we make a commitment to each other, not to a particular creed. I'm with you about God. I am loved, as are we all. Period. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  3. If I were god, I would create many paths to me. Like spokes of a wheel all going to the hub. I'm good with that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda, Love the image of a wheel. I'm good with that, too! Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  4. I love the saying that the more I know, the less I know. I do think that there is no way anyone can know what God is like, only what comforts us from our own experience.

    Love the poem! I must read Shel Silverstein some more!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betsy, Great saying! There is comfort in certainty, but when it separates us from others, there is fear. Glad you like this poem, too. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  5. After reading A New Earth by Echart Tolle I realized I don't know anything and who cares anyway?!? It is all so much our ego...trying to impress people of all we know. And one thing he said really made me think.."Most people are not even listening to what we are saying..they are thinking of what they are going to say next"!...love all the comments btw on this post..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love it--don't know and who cares?! I realized recently that so much of what I thought I knew is just falling away. All the labels, all the distinctions. Thanks for adding your comment to the other wonderful comments.

      Delete
  6. Just beautiful, Galen Pearl. I too have come to the point where I know that I don't know - and instead of making me insecure, it makes me more certain of my place in the world. I realize that there's a Higher Power in control of everything and I can be 'me' without upsetting the order of the Universe, multiverse....
    Thank you, for being 'you' ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Corinne, I love your description of feeling more certain of your place in the world. Isn't that a wonderful way to release all the fear of uncertainty?! Thank you for your lovely words.

      Delete
  7. Hi Galen,

    As I read your article, one thought came to mind. The more I learn, the less I realize I know. But not everything is worth knowing in any case. The truth is, most people are too caught up surviving in life to think about the bigger picture. Those who have the means to think about the bigger picture, rarely have the greater good at heart. Take Genghis Khan for example who I will mention later in my comments. Or as you rightly point out, the politicians.

    What I used to believe with vehement certainty that bordered on the pious zeal of crusader faith in the past I am no longer sure of now. I guess it is because I realize that there are at least two sides to any story and both sides might be right or wrong. Again this depends on perspective.

    I've always been a big fan of multiverses. I learned about them from my comics. Since I have a huge love for history, I always wondered how the world would be different if certain key events had happened differently. Lately, I have rekindled my interest for the Mongol Empire. No doubt millions of people died as the Mongols dominated the world. But I wonder what the world would have been if there was no Mongol Empire?

    What if Genghis Khan's wife was never kidnapped and taken from him? Would he have been content just to live out his days like other nomads instead of going forth to unite the various tribes under his rule? How would the world be richer or poorer because of this? Who knows? In any case, I look forward to my book Empire of the Steppes which should arrive tomorrow! :D

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like you, I used to be so sure I knew everything! Well, everything that was important. I knew the right way to live...for everyone! I was so self righteous and superior in my wisdom. Ah, the follies of youth! You have piqued my interest about Genghis Khan and his wife--I will look up this story right now.

      Delete
  8. Love the thought provocative post! Indeed the more I know te more I realize it is all the same thing. It's all love, it's all God. Nothing is separate or differentiated. Great job! Today and I love Shel Silverstein!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jodi, Nothing separate or differentiated. That's the key, isn't it?! Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  9. Beautiful verse. :-) We all have our perceptions and are often defined by our own experiences as we grow up. Yes, we do think we know...and "Time" in her own inimitable way, teaches so many lessons, brings on wisdom as we see it. Eventually, so long as we are in a state of mental peace, I think everything's okay - preferably not hurting others and instead, doing good stuff. One Universe, and we cannot take everything for granted (even the air we breathe)

    Oddly, this morning I looked at my virtually overflowing email inbox and wondered what would I miss if I just mass-deleted. I am still thinking about it.

    Love and hugs to you, Galen - what a contemplative post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vidya, I was reading along in your comment and then laughed out loud when I got to the mass delete idea! I have an email account that deleted everything for a few days--it was crazy! Just when I got to the place where I was ready to let it all go, it all came back. Our cyber world keeps us very aware of how quickly it can all disappear. We would survive. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  10. LOL Galen - that's where your keys go! You may not be too far off there, you know. Things DO get moved. As if by tiny gremlins. Usually the ones who are delaying you just a tad so you don't get hit by a Mack truck on your way :)

    Oh IwishIwishIwish that the politics would stop and the action to get us all going again would begin, but so far it doesn't seem to be happening. I am with you - I know less as time goes on, and that's a good thing. Those who are so certain have a ways to go to catch up to us :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie, I'm not kidding about the keys. And other things, too. I really have thought for a long time that cracks between the worlds sometimes open up and things that are too close just fall into the opening. Sometimes they come back and sometimes they don't. Ha! Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  11. I always wonder why people need to define God and put limits to what He is. Why do we need to compare religions and come out with statements defining which religion is the "true" one? I wish people realize they can not define love else than by LIGHT, TRUTH and LOVE. Those three words are the only definition of God who is One.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nikky, Those three words say everything that is important. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  12. You know I'm right there with you on this one. Oh, and welcome to the Blogroll!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mikey, Welcome back--you got your comment problem fixed! And thank you so much for adding me to your blogroll. I'm honored!

      Delete
  13. Galen, wonderful post! I just subscribed via email feedburner and look forward to getting to know you better through your blog. This topic is endlessly fascinating. I agree w/ you on the concept of the multiverse possibility not coming as a surprise...my car keys visit there regularly, also. OR, the House Elves take them, as they like things that are shiny.

    Conviction...that's one of those areas I tend to remain quiet about. I embrace the "live and let live" concept for the most part. I have my own beliefs and thoughts, and they grow and expand as I do. Btw, a couple years ago, I worked out at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) facility in Oak Ridge, TN (gov't classified area) where scientists study the decay period of neutrons. It's the sister facility to CERN in Switzerland. At any rate, as I was writing for this facility, the conversations I got to have with nuclear and quantum physicists were beyond riveting. String theory and how universes are being discovered - it could turn a person's head inside out eternally. I loved it!

    Enough yammering for now. I will definitely be back to read more of your work. :)

    - Dawn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dawn, Welcome and thank you for subscribing! Yes, I know about those mischievous elves, too! Your work at SNS sounds fascinating. This Newsweek article also talked about string theory. One article was enough to dazzle my synapses. I can't imagine all the mind expanding conversations you must have had. Thanks so much for your comment. I will come check out your blog right now.

      Delete
  14. Speaking of things vanishing... Several years ago we went out for the evening and left our 2 dogs with medium sized, red Kongs stuffed with their favorite treats. When we came home later that evening the Kongs were gone never to be seen again. The yard is fenced so they're not out in the woods, they aren't buried in the yard and I've remodeled the house since then so I know they aren't tucked in a corner somewhere. They really did vanish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe you! I dropped a key once as I was locking the door. It dropped right at my feet and vanished. I looked for ages and finally gave up. Months later, I was doing a rare deep clean, and when I lifted up a chair cushion near the door, the key was underneath. Try to explain that without elves or cracks in the universe!

      Delete
  15. I must admit this was an interesting read. I feel enlightened in many ways. I think I will ponder for a while some of your thoughts. I always enjoy visiting you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LeAnn, And I always enjoy when you visit!

      Delete
  16. I needed to read your fine words today Galen, and I just adore the poem you shared.

    I am just home from San Francisco where I heard 25 -2 minute graduation speeches from the faculty members of one college and 2 30 minute speeches by the University President and Dean...many mentioned politics and greed and integrity - my whole being was transported into thinking wider and deeper and it made it such an amazing trip

    Now within reality, I am writing about discarding a rigid belief and work experience for the unknown - I can no longer work for a company that promotes "hate"....this is what know right now...I have created a miniverse that includes this boundary - I just must keep defining and that good book open.

    I was struck too by your political party reference of moving away from each other...I wonder who will take their "ball" and seek a new place first? (I think the Newt was trying that one on) Makes me boldly laugh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patricia, A miniverse--I love that! Thanks for sharing your reflections and your plans.

      Delete
  17. Nicely said Galen,
    There is an overwhelming need to be "right" about things...for some reason.Let's just learn and do "right" by others
    be good to yourself
    David

    ReplyDelete
  18. lol, my keys and phone go into the black hole of the universe daily :) I guess one day we will know for sure who was right and who was wrong, we get so convinced of what we think is right and block everything else out. I guess God knew this about us and that's why He said the greatest commandment is to LOVE. Love helps us get past those barriers and see each other's heart. I loved that Shel Silverstein poem as well:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alecia, How easy it is to forget what Jesus clearly said is the most important commandment. We are so busy judging, something he just as clearly said to avoid! Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  19. Hi Galen....loved your opening poem......What does God look like....he looks like all of us......because I believe God is in each of us.....allowing our goodness to show.

    xo

    Jo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jo, Lovely description. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  20. Not knowing is knowing indeed! So beautifully articulated in this post.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As I read this what comes to mind is John 3:30 - I must decrease and HE must increase.

    So yes are there parallel universes out there - not sure but I know that I will make the best of the universe I have. Nothing is certain and we are forever changing. I smile at this and take solace at a brand new day as it begins and the adventures that lie before me in this moment.

    I love your words and so very true - I still think Einstein had it right - "imagination is more important than knowledge."

    Here's to living in the possibilities,
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy, Einstein had an amazing perspective on what is really important, didn't he?! Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  22. Hi Galen
    i believe God is beyond our imagination. whatever you can imagine, God is otherwise :)
    keep in touch

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. farouk, You seem to be in agreement with Einstein--see Nancy's comment above. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  23. I agree with you Gale. I tend to focus more on the mystery and marvel that surrounds me.

    I really appreciate your thoughts and your writing, well it's superb. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Myrna, Thank you so much for your lovely comment.

      Delete
  24. Hi Galen,

    Love the poem, "George said, “God is short and fat.”
    Nick said, “No, He’s tall and lean.”
    Len said, “With a long white beard.”
    “No,” said John, “He’s shaven clean.”
    Rhonda Rose said, “He’s a She.”
    I smiled but never showed ‘em all
    The autographed photograph God sent to me."

    We all receive autographed photograph sent by God. We are just to busy trying to figure things out rather than paying attention to the little things and have FAITH!

    Nice post, the only things I have trouble losing are the socks in the wash. Darn washing machine loves to eat them!

    I do worry about this world some, the values people are developing or lack of, morals going out the door, but where there is human spirit and good always wins over evil, even if it is God that has to intercept.

    Thanks again and blessings to you,
    Galen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie, We all have an autographed photograph from God--I love that! Yes, those darned sock eating washers and dryers--I have them, too! Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  25. Insightful post Galen and always thought-provoking. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend coming up.

    ReplyDelete
  26. You should read this guest post when you get a chance, Galen. I think you will like it. It was written by a friend of mine, Alisha Sommer. It is about finding faith and the conviction of her Grandmother, southern roots, all that jazz. It is very raw and honest look at how we find our own faiths and convictions. Sometimes at the expense of others.

    http://jenniferwmccullough.typepad.com/my-blog/2012/05/claiming-the-f-word-guest-post-by-alisha-sommer.html

    How do we ever know what is real or right? I guess we just have to make a choice and leap. See where we end up and how it feels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nicole, I will check it out.

      Delete
  27. It amazes me to think about all that we do not know about God and all that His hands have created or what He looks like. Oprah writes a column called What I know for Sure. I think about that title some days and the list of what I know for sure is so short!!

    joy and blessings to you,
    Alida

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alida, Funny--I have commented on Oprah's column, too. I am amazed that she can find 12 things a year that she knows for sure! Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  28. I really love this post. So, so true. Humans have a tendency to think that our way is the only way - the "right" way - and forget that there are many equal valid opinions and ways of doing things. I just returned from a week in Korea and I was continually reminded of all of the different customs and cultures throughout the world. It is a very humbling to experience such different faiths, customs, language, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christie, My travels and years living overseas gave me similar insights. Humbling indeed. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  29. As always Galen, it is a pleasure visiting your blog and reading your wise posts. I know of people who are so staunch about things that they can never look out of the box, believing what they know is the ultimate truth.I too believe we are very small entities in this huge cosmos. I too believe there is so much we dont know and I am content not knowing and keeping my mind open about thigs.

    ReplyDelete

Your comment is valuable and valued. Comment moderation is enabled to block spam, so please excuse the brief delay until your comment appears on the blog.