The Brain of God

What a provocative title! Surely God does not have a brain any more than he has hands or the other allegorical images we find in the Scripture! We are so used to the material / spiritual divide that we find it very difficult to comprehend the notion according to which there is no matter, only information or energy, what the ancient Greeks called λόγος or what St John called the Word, what modern science might call information or quanta of probabilities.

When I was a little boy, I read about atoms, long before going to science lessons at school. The science of that time saw them as being like little solar systems: a nucleus being orbited by electrons. I then compared our solar system with an atom, and then I wondered what was over the solar system, and then we can find photos from extremely powerful telescopes of galaxies – thousands of light years across. Then coming back to the atom, who lives on the electrons orbiting round their nuclei? Imagine how small the atoms must be that make up the beings that live on electrons!

Perhaps my childish musings were not so fanciful. I found this photo on Astronomers discover ‘BOSS Great Wall’: Billion-light-year-sized galaxy structure composed of superclusters.

galaxiesDoesn’t this remind you of something? All those things are connected. How about this?

neuronsThat’s right! These are neurons and nerves in a human brain. I was bowled over by this idea of comparing the two. This structure in space is said to be a billion light years across (light speed is about the equivalent of seven times round the world in one second or the distance between the earth and the sun [93 million miles] in a few minutes). Just one light year is beyond our imagination. Perhaps, the BOSS Great Wall, as the astronomers call it, is just a small part of someone’s brain, not made of matter but the λόγος!

Faced with something of this magnitude, we can only be utterly humbled and brought both to our nothingness and our divinity (that image of divinity left within our fallen created beings). Perhaps there are tiny astronomers living on electrons in our bodies looking at the neurons in our brains and marvelling about the brain measuring a billion light years. The mind boggles…

Whatever our lack of scientific knowledge, these few ideas will certainly bring us to the most profound adoration, prayer and sense of wonder.

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3 Responses to The Brain of God

  1. Stephen K says:

    Dear Father, a great post! To me, there is an inevitable conflict between the realisation on the one hand that we “know” nothing about that concept we call “God” but just continually keep getting amazed at the wonders of things around us, and induce various idea from them, and the attraction and contemplation, on the other hand, of this figure, this man called Jesus who spoke about a personal god as “Father” or “Papa” (“Abba”) and whom people decided to see as an incarnation of that God. There is no real demonstrable connection between the two, but the desire for love adopts the latter and conflates it with the former and so ultimately the Christian faith is simply an act of trust or aspiration.

    This is, I think, what the modern Church (understood fully and largely) is grappling with: the inadequacy of traditional dogma. It’s futile to stamp one’s feet up and down in protest against the rejection of it as if somehow it’s all a great sin or defect. The very point about this whole exercise of modern faith is that God is incomprehensible or at least mysterious, and Jesus is, as far as we can determine, a true and worthy – if at times enigmatic – model. None of us, including the curmudgeonly Father Hunwicke, can be anything but modern Christians, living as we do in this modern (i.e. contemporary) world. At some point, each of us decides or not to try to model his or her life and way of living on what they can learn from the Gospels as if Jesus was God. That is an act of faith. It’s really quite ludicrous to think that such an act can be imposed or is self-evident or is universally objectively absolutely true or the exclusive reality. It is a realisation of that that lies at the heart of thoughtful modern universalism, where the conscious adoption of Buddhism in the same spirit leads exactly to the same place as the conscious adoption of “Christianity”. The “Church” is simply then the aggregate, the assembly, of people who have made such choices. This is why the proclamations of “authority” by hierarchs of all stripes ring hollow, why resort to arguments based on them do not satisfy this human longing for love from the divine.

    I’ll stop here, because it’s a subject that could bear much meditation and attempt at articulation, but yes, the wonder of the universe is as good as being the wonder of God, and I am truly humbled before it all.

  2. Fr. David Marriott SSC says:

    I was interested in the depiction, for it has a resemblance to this: http://get.smarter.com/qa/science/purpose-central-nervous-system-25da6e2d6eae47fd?ad=semD&an=msn_s&am=broad&o=32817
    (Sensory input comes from the different sensory modalities such as touch, sight and smell. Sensory receptors pick up this sensory input and transform it into a nerve impulse that travels along a sensory neuron. At the spinal cord, the impulse transfers to an interneuron. The central nervous system receives this input and decides the action the body should take in response. It then sends a response to motor neurons that attach to an effector organ or tissue.)

  3. At one time I adopted the view based on a literal reading of Genesis chapter one’s ‘waters above’ that the universe is surrounded and enclosed by a vast gulf of water, separating it from God’s heavenly realm.

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