The Watchmaker G-d
Did G-d Go on a Cosmic Vacation?
The notion of a world that both reveals and hides G-d would be incomplete if we did not relate to G-d's ongoing involvement in the World. We state that G-d is omniscient (i.e., all-knowing) and omnipotent (i.e., all powerful). Those are heavy statements, one's that will require more careful thought and consideration at another time.
For now, though, let's suffice it to say that part of G-d's knowledge and power is an understanding of what is happening at all times and places in His world and the ability to change, influence or get involved in those circumstances whenever He wants and in whatever fashion He wants.
In other words – there is no watch-maker G-d, one who created the world, set it up and went on his (meta) cosmic way. We see the world as continuously and constantly dependent upon G-d for its very existence not to mention G-d's involvement in the affairs of mankind.
Even the analogy to a watch is not a very good one. Watch's, and all machines, need constant upkeep and repair – they need to be taken care of and worked on. And, just like the musician did not create sound, the watch maker did not create the materials that make up the watch. Those materials need to be maintained by the various laws of nature that preserve life as we know it.
However, G-d created the entire universe – including all of its laws and matter. What maintains those? 'Where' is G-d going to leave them to run by themselves? A watch can be left on a table – but what cosmic table is there for G-d to leave the universe on while He goes on His cosmic way?
Of course, we could return to the notion of some primordial mater which G-d reworked into the universe we currently inhabit. Perhaps then it would be possible to contemplate a watch-maker type G-d. G-d 'found' (so to speak) some independent entity called mater which He 'refashioned' into a workable, livable universe. And, given G-d's greatness, that world works in a manner of perfection far superior to anything that we can create. This version of G-d doesn't work so well with current scientific thinking because of the Big Bang theory, but theories come and go, and perhaps this notion of G-d will resurface at some point again.
One could theoretically imagine such a G-d, but again, that's not our vision of G-d. That is not the One who was revealed to us, who tradition has explored and clarified (to the extent possible). There is no end to theoretical speculation – one can always come up with new and interesting theoretical constructs.
But as I mentioned before, we are not dealing with theory here – G-d is not a postulate put forward to explain the workings of the universe. He is not a modern scientific theory. The version of G-d that I am describing here is the one that has survived all possible challenges that we can imagine – murder and theft, lies and treachery. It has overcome physical, political, economic, psychological, cultural, personal, emotional, and intellectual pressure. Every possible challenge has been faced, and yet this version and understanding of G-d just won't go away. It has been etched into our very souls
The Ramifications of Limiting G-d
Attempts to mitigate G-d and His responsibility for the world that we live in also mitigate our ability to approach and/or relate to G-d vis-à-vis the world. Theories and philosophies which imagine G-d to have absented Himself from creation or to have been forced to create the type of world that we live in may limit G-d's responsibility (for both the good and the bad), but they also limit our ability to connect to G-d and to seek out a greater purpose for man vis-à-vis this world.
If G-d is totally responsible then the world becomes a place where I can learn something about G-d. If G-d is totally responsible it means that there can be a purpose to existence, one I can tap into and attempt to live in accordance with.
Now one line of attack on this point of view is to say that the desire for a meaningful life is wishful thinking, it is simply a psychological construct imposed upon reality by the emotional necessities of man. Of course, the alternative positions also carry with them some heavy psychological baggage. There are serious consequences to saying that G-d is the sole and ultimate creator, consequences that many people would rather not deal with. It means having to deal head on with the issue of why bad things happen to good people (or why good things happen to bad people). It means having to try and figure out what is the point of life and honestly ask if I am living in sync with that purpose?
In other words – it means work and responsibility, and work and responsibility are two aspects of life that most people would rather avoid. Indeed, one modern image of the 'good life' is to calmly and purposelessly rest on the beach drinking Pina Colada's . No work – no responsibility – the good life.
Of course, that's just an image – and there are other strains and values in modern society, but it's important to understand that there is a serious cultural and psychological resistance of the implications that life has a deeper, more meaningful purpose.
But more importantly, we just arrived at the understanding that there is a meaning and purpose to life from our understanding of G-d. It is a philosophical consequence of how we understand G-d, not a conclusion based on psychological needs. This helps to illustrate the importance of having a clear and proper understanding of Who we are talking about when we talk about G-d. Of course, there is much more to talk about in that regards and we haven't properly addressed how we came to this understanding of G-d, but we'll have to save those conversations for another time.
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