Sunday, 4 March 2012

What in the world is God?

I'm starting to believe that Neil Gaiman is a genius with a knowledge of levels of consciousness unattainable by most of us mere humans.
I could easily write a whole blog on the power and magic of books, how inside of that 20cmx15cmx3cm rectangular paper package you can fit entire worlds, cultures and lives. But that's not what this blog is about, so I'll stop there.
What I intend to do is discuss... and at the same time straighten out my own ideas about... what in the world 'God' might be.
I've just put down American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This book's, like, 10cm thick and I finished it in a couple of days because every time I picked it up for a bit of bedtime reading, I didn't put it down again till many hours later: swept away into a space in my mind where Gods live just because we believe in them, where dreams are full of messages and lessons, and death is anything but final. It was so believable, it almost sounded like a fucked up kind of common sense!
Halfway through the book I had to stop and recover my senses. I had the same thing when I read Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights trilogy. It might sound a little crazy (but then I am a little crazy) but I find that these kinds of thought-invoking fantasy novels help me to determine my own beliefs far more than, say, reading an informative book on religion, or having a discussion about God. I suppose it's like lucid dreaming in a way.
The thing is, you have different levels of consciousness: there's the level you're on during the day, when your brain is working on moving parts of your body, processing what's coming in through your eyes and your ears, as well as thinking about what needs to be achieved during the day, who you're talking to, what you want to eat, etc, etc... Then there's the level your're on when you're asleep, when the 'awake' part of your brain is out of gear and you have no real control over where your thoughts take you, and often no memory of them once you're awake... And then there's the magical place between the two, which you find yourself in just as you fall asleep and when you wake up, and sometimes during lucid dreams. It explains why some of us get our best ideas as we're falling asleep: your brain is no longer using energy on moving parts of your body or organising your daily activities- it's able to play (for want of a better word... no on second thoughts that's exactly the right word). And I think that when you've lost yourself in a fantasy novel, the same process takes place: your conscious brain is still working, but it's no longer processing the outside world, so it lets you work 'real' things out at the same time as drifting away from reality. Makes sense?
Now a bit of religious background on my part: my Mum was a pretty strict Christian when I was a child. We went to church every Sunday so Mum could speak to God, so Dad could sing the hymns, and so me and my brother could get bored and act up. Years later, Mum strayed from the path of Church of England Christian belief and got tired of having to hide her real beliefs from judgemental peers, so she became a Quaker. My Dad is a physicist and believes (mostly) in science. We had physics lessons at the dinner table. But over-all, both of my parents wanted to make their own minds up about everything, and allowed me and my brother to do the same, within the framework of what we had learned about religion and science.
If you asked me five years back what I believed about religion and whether I believed in God, I would have said 'I don't know' and fully meant it. I had contemplated it, but never been able to find anything that seemed to make sense. Science explained the details but had massive gaps. 'God' explained the massive gaps, but clashed hideously with science on the details. It's only in the last few years that I have begun to pull together a thousand little puzzle pieces of science and religion and philosophy and other 'boxes' we put existance into, and have started to form a picture in my head that seems to make some kind of sense. Phillip Pullman helped me to do this. So did Neil Gaiman. 'God', not so much... not in the Christian sense anyway.
But I would still say 'I don't know' if I was asked the question again.
So let's not say that this is my belief, because then it becomes something solid and lasting. It's not. It's an idea, open to change, ready to be abandoned if proven wrong, willing to shift and mould itself into something else. So I'll use the word 'idea'. I like it better.
Take this idea: God/Heaven/Hell is not something that exists in it's final form already, it is something that is being created. Every day that goes past, every second, every thought, every action that takes place is creating it. It's living in everything: from a piece of dust floating in deepest space, to a blue whale swimming through Earth's oceans. And in some way that we're not able to comprehend, it's conscious. It's trying to make itself. Maybe it knows what outcome it's working towards, maybe it doesn't. Maybe there's no outcome. Maybe the outcome is just to keep going. Maybe that's the game.
So, accepting this idea, you must accept the idea that everything is joined as one huge 'thing' and that nothing's ever finished. You die, your body breaks down but God/Heaven/Hell's still there in every little part of you, and every little part of you goes back into the system and becomes something else, something new.
This is the part of my idea that came to me when reading Phillip Pullman. His two main characters love each other completely, but can't be together during their human lives, so they agree that after they die and their bodies break down, every little atom in their body will search for every little atom of the other's, and they will fuse together so strongly that they can never be broken apart. It's one of the most beautiful passages I've ever read and I fell in love with the idea. That, to me, sounds like heaven. And it sounds like earth too. In fact it almost sounds like science, doesn't it...
So basically, we make our own heaven or our own hell. If we love each other, we can join together and be a part of our own kind of heaven. If we screw the world up, if we're all assholes to each other, and teach our kids to be assholes; if we rape the earth of all it's natural beauty and all it's resources, we will make our very own hell to live in forever; in all the forms we will ever take.
And this kind of leads me onto the part of my idea that began to gel whilst reading American Gods, and is about as far as I've got with my idea so far. Imagine that you're a real, living God. Now, we break our Gods down into boxes in the same way we break everything else down into boxes: little nibbly chunks of understanding so we can make sense of it all. We put them into boxes of good and bad, destruction and creation, life and death.
But what if you had to put all of that into one big box and deal with all of it? What if you had to be a God of good, bad, destruction, creation, life and death, all at once. What if you could see it all? Every starving child crying? Every moment of blissful orgasm? Every single happy thing and every single sad thing, and the unavoidable connection between them? Imagine how it would feel to be that God. I imagine you would feel it all, you would feel all the sadness and all the happiness at once, but you would also accept and understand that it must be this way. It just is this way.
So when you put both of those ideas together, you're basically saying that since 'God' is just a living part of every single fucking thing in the universe, that we are all that same real living God I was just talking about. Maybe we're just not aware of it because we've got our own lives to think about. But maybe, if there is some form of consciousness to it, we've all got atoms (and parts even smaller that atoms) from millions of years of caring, living things inside us and around us, that are aware of the whole inevitable spectrum of good and bad, of destruction and creation, happiness and sadness. The more time that goes by, the more lives, the more experience, the more it creates itself and the more it understands and feels. And it wants to help whilst still understanding that shit will, of course, happen.
It's just an idea...

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god I love your blog! All of it, not just this post, although this one is especially wonderful...If it wasn't 1.30am I would make all kinds of insightful comments... I'll sleep on it xxx