Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Hierarchy: a personal story about the existence of God

I've been an atheist for many years. I had never delved deep into the subject anyway, be- cause the lack of concrete proof about the existence of God always turn me off. I've been a person who needed rational explanations above all and I still am to a degree. I knew that I couldn't believe in God if there was no tangible evidence to support my faith. During that time, there have been moments when I asked the help of God, as we all do, but I did so probably because I was taught to , whenever things got really nasty. Prayer is a way to recognize our inability to deal with things we can't change. When we hope that something or someone  beyond ourselves can take care of our troubles.

Several years passed and then one day something happened. An insignificant event actually, but it did cause a train of thought that led me to believe that a "God" of some kind must exist. It was a summer day and I was sitting in the garden enjoying the last drops of sunlight. Ants were coming and going on the ground and around my feet, collecting food for the winter. If I moved my foot a bit, they changed course to avoid the "obstacle". Nothing unusual. It was obvious though: ants were aware of my presence, they knew I was there, yet they were not capable of understanding what they saw. They knew there was something  blocking their way, but what kind of creature that was, those ants would never be able to realize. And then I thought about other life forms and how they perceive each other. My cats for example, know me, they obviously understand that I take care of them. They trust me enough to let me pet them and play with them. Yet they will never be able to read this blog, they will never understand my intellect or that I'm a human and what a human is. It became quite clear for me:  there's a hierarchy in Nature, not only strenght-wise, but consciousness-wise also. Nobody can deny that. All living creatures have a certain degree of perception of the world around them. And if there's one thing that we could call a manifestation of God, that's Nature.  In that sense, believing that we humans have the highest degree of consciousness seemed ludicrous. We  are creatures that still have a long way to go before we understand the mechanisms and wonders of the world around us. Let alone the function of the universe or what the reality that surrounds us is all about or even our own minds. Think about the vastness of the cosmos and how we are ants ourselves in front of this magnificence. Not because we are small while it's big, but because its complexity (or simpicity) is way beyond our understanding. We can try to understand and that we do for millenia, but what if our intellect is not enough? Would those ants ever be able to recognize me as a human , no matter how hard they tried? My guess is that they wouldn't, even if they spent an eternity on this endeavor. Will we ever be able to answer the eternal question? Putting aside our innate arrogance that makes us think we can explain everything, we should consider the fact the we may never be able to give an answer, as an ant would never be able to understand nuclear fusion (and I have the feeling that the analogy ant - nuclear fusion falls short of the analogy human - God).

I still haven't an unshakable proof that there's a supreme Being, still the clues I have point to the fact that if there is such a Being (If I can call it a being), it must be something extremely incomprehensible for us. My logic (yes, that again) tells me that since in Nature there's this kind of order, we humans with our limited perspective can't be the summit of it. There must be beings way above us and then other beings above them also and so on.  Where does it end? Does it end anyway?

After that small  incident, a realization started growing in me, a notion that perhaps we must accept the fact that we don't know, because we can't understand and we never will. Even if the evidence is all around us.

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