The size of God
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
We, as mere humans, regularly and earnestly desire to quantify all that is around us. It appears to be a requirement for our living. Whether it is putting together a recipe for chocolate cake, or exploring the outer reaches, we seek certainty. Of course, we know too much salt, not enough eggs and an improper amount of flour will deliver an unpalatable mess. A rocket, attempting to flee the force of gravity, shall dependably fall to earth, or reach an improper orbit, or go tumbling off into the limitless voids, if the planning is faulty.
These, and many other challenges, are dependent on the finite reality of our earthly lives, as we understand them. Indeed, gone are the early days when we existed solely to survive and procreate.
As we have grown in our knowledge, we have specialized in our very learning; simply because there is such a great panoply of knowledge itself. Where once we could assimilate most of the necessary knowledge to live, our ever-increasing volumes have overwhelmed our abilities to do so. Today, humans rely upon the technology which has brought us forward; at an ever-accelerating pace.
Beginning with the Gutenberg Bible, which demonstrated the ability of moveable print to deliver information to the masses and with our embracement of the technologies of computers and the Internet, our onslaught of information has continually expanded. Imagination may only suggest what our societies shall be one hundred years from now; with much of what we have today as seen from the “horse and buggy” perspective. Even in these times, we may be perplexed by the ever-expanding rapidity of humankind’s knowledge.
Although our ancestors spent a great deal of time merely struggling for existence, the innate survival instincts remain. Diverse outlets frequently talk about “fight, or flight;” stand your ground, or run to safety. These, and many others are an integral part of who, and what, we are.
With all of the publicity around Charles Darwin, and his theories, our psyches and nativist logic are drawn to his positions. Even in the Christian community, there have been often divisive conversations; if not confrontations. We may be well-assured there shall be other equally revered pundits which shall postulate an equally plausible idea.
As Christians, we are continually challenged by these, and many other, counterpoints to our beliefs. Frequently, we hear the position about Scripture, “Well, that was then, this is now.” It serves as a rationale to obliviate those portions of sacred text which do not suit, or are less than pleasing. We are told that the New Testament does not contain all of the words and works of Christ during his ministry. Therefore, it must be OK for we moderns to reconsider the Canon of Holy Writ; rejecting the authority and theology of centuries.
All of this is our effort to determine the size of God himself. We would desire him to be a firmly identifiable creature; not “everywhere and from all time.” Yet we have attempted to place his image around us. As an example and, of particular note, is the clear image of our Creator, well-muscled and with a flowing white beard, reaching out to an indifferent Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome. Here we have God, in a box; at a specific time and at a specific place. It negates the Christian belief that God is, indeed, everywhere.
In the Bible, there are few allusions to the visage of Jesus; the Son of God. It is known that his hair color was unusual; albeit we are unsure of what that color was. However, most of what we know was about his ministry; not the physiology of Jesus. Simply put, how can we have the confidence to portray his Son, with such vague information, and even the profound alacrity to portray the visage of the Creator? It is only we who have striven to limit both God and Jesus; both in their scope and teachings. As we acknowledge that the size of God is beyond our understanding, let us also acknowledge his patience with us as his most fallible creation. We may only pray the limitations we place inherently on God are forgiven, as well as our many other indiscretions.