Where is God? THERE is God!

everyday-objectsWherever you are right now, stop for a moment, and look around.

There’s God!

That we so readily and naturally take for granted the physical world around us can sometimes make it difficult for us to remember that God isn’t just in heaven, or just in church, or even “just” in our hearts as the Holy Spirit. God is unceasingly striving (well: insofar as God ever strives to do anything) to in every possible way communicate to us the immediate reality of his presence. He does that inside of us—and he does that outside of us.

If at any given moment you stop to look around yourself,  what do you see? You see patterns. Light. Forms. Textures. Carved space. Layers upon layers of natural and manmade phenomena. You see every kind of color. You see things that on an atomic level you know are zinging around like crazy—yet there they are, solid as a rock.

And what do you hear? The music of life; the rich, unending, multi-layered hum of existence.

What each and every one of us has all of the time, everywhere around us, is flat-out, 100% miracle.

People who are resistant to the idea of believing in God often say how they would believe in God, if just once in their life they could see or experience a true, undeniable miracle.

And whenever I hear that, I wonder: What in this world of our isn’t a miracle?

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Patricia Wynant

    That is really beautiful

  • http://360.yahoo.com/skerrib Kerri B.

    I read a quote somewhere to the effect of, "Either God exists, therefore nothing matters; or God exists, therefore everything matters." I vote for the latter.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    For sure. Nothing else really makes sense.

  • http://writenow.wordpress.com/ Shirley

    Hello, John. I've enjoyed reading on your site today.

    A couple of days ago, a very nice man whom I have known only a few months, revealed to me that he is an atheist. I was shocked, for the man is exceptionally thoughtful, intelligent and accomplished. It was appropriate to discuss his stance, and one thing I said to him, which is pertinent to your post today: "I don't know how someone of your nature and your intelligence can look around the world–at a hummingbird, the roaring ocean, a mewling kitten or a magnificent jaguar…and not believe in God. I can understand quibbling over His name, but to imagine all these shapes, smells, sounds, ideas and thoughts…that they could merely spring into being is beyond my comprehension."

    Oh, yes, God is everywhere. How blessed we are to know.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Perfectly said. Beautiful. Thank you.

  • David Nisbet

    Exactly.

  • nisperos

    Well, even the law of probability allows for novelty beyond 2 standard deviations on either side of the bell shaped curve. If you can predict miracles, does that mean they don't exist?

    And, you just might be able to visit Einstein's brain at Princeton
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?stor
    Talk about a brain traveling through space and time even after death…

    Not that the devil needs an advocate, but for the sake of argument, perhaps happiness from one or another type of thinking is genetically coded. What are the odds?

    I know scientists who come to their beliefs about God precisely because of the seeming impossibility that so many things happened just by chance. Hence inquiry can lead to belief.

    On the other hand, I know others who believe and then inquire fully believing this is what God intended us to do.

    Ain't diversity grand? It would be pretty boring if we all agreed on everything. As a believer, I figure that's the way God made and intended it, to include that some would reach a different conclusion.

  • nisperos

    Well, Haggard seems a perfectly dishonest person, at least in some areas, so I don't at all mind jokes at his expense. But any joke gets old after a while. Much better one of the visual jokes which a decorator might suggest, say, for example, erecting bird statues around cages filled with live birds… and then we let the birds out to do what birds do naturally…

    We can't always tell the fake from the real, but the obvious ones are pretty easy. Did you hear the one about the scientist who only fudged his findings a little because the financial rewards seemed worth it at the time? Or, the one about the scientist who stole someone's ideas because they were senior staff and thought no one would believe a mere graduate student?

    To say that humans will be… well, human, regardless of the label they cloak themselves with is a no brainer…

    Just stop me, because I know many have heard this one before:

    The televangelist comes on the air and says to his congregation in TV land, "OK, now we are going to pray for healing. Place one hand on the TV and one hand on the place you want healed."

    The older man walks up and places one hand on the TV set and one hand on his… er, shall we say, zipper?

    The old lady shakes her head and says, "Honey, he said….

    heal the sick, not raise the dead."

  • Pat

    I came across your blog a few months ago, and I was impressed by how it seemed to be the one place on the internet where there was some substantial, respectful dialogue between believers and non-believers, and I was drawn in by your attitude in particular. I forgot to bookmark the website, though, and it has taken several random stabs on google searches to finally come back here, but anyway here I am now. The reason I kept trying is that I feel there is much that strong believers and non-believers share with each other in what fascinates them about the world, more so in some ways than they share with those halfway in the middle. However, in general each side seems to have little but disdain for the other at worst and interest in verbal sparring at best, and this usually prevents any kind of meaningful communication. I personally (perhaps it does not matter for what I have to say, but for some reason it feels that it does) grew up as a Christian until high school, though I was taught that the stories of the Bible are not literally true or literally the word of God but rather were written by mortals guided loosely (or some times not at all) by God and that many were metaphors; some would consider this not to really be Christianity but so be it. In high school, I slowly became increasingly doubtful about the presence of God as I did not see God anywhere, and many of the mysteries I had been fascinated by (how does nature work? how does life grow? where did the earth come from?) became increasingly explained by science I was learning. Eventually I admitted to myself that I no longer believed in God, though it was a slow and difficult process to accept that fact. My fascination with nature and origins, however, continued to grow, and these days I do research in physics for a living.

    The reason I chose this post for a comment even though it is fairly old is that it starts to say almost perfectly how I feel about the laws of nature, even though it is written with a Christian God in mind. You see, I prefer to think of the laws of nature not just as a tool used by a Christian God, but actually as God. I think the question from believers to non-believers which is usually put in the form of something like "Why do you believe there is no God" has been presented in a form which maximally impedes mutual understanding. Rather, I do think there is a God, and it is the God described in the above post. This God is all around us. We interact with God all the time, every day, every time we move, or think, or look at rainbows, or stare out at stars, or type comments on blogs. This God is not invisible, or difficult to have faith in. Perhaps most important, by interacting with this God using the tools of science, we have learned an enormous amount, and it turns out that God is unimaginably more wonderful and beautiful than we could have guessed. The laws of quantum mechanics are strange and beautiful, and they are how God works. The laws of gravity and relativity, of light and nuclear interactions and particles, of star formation and burning, of evolution by natural selection, of cosmological expansion, are all also strange and beautiful, and they are all also how God works. So I find that the sense of wonder one can experience from understanding these things is a very religious experience. Knowing that every atom heavier than Lithium in my body was once inside a star gives me a sense of unity with everything else that is not so different from the sense of unity I felt in church contemplating God when I was young.

    Of course, there are obviously many differences between this God and a Christian God. The laws of nature do not care about us, and this frankly is a little sad. They can seem at times a little dry (sometimes they involve equations!), though often this dryness is only because, like sheet music of Beethoven's symphonies, you must know how to read them. They do not give us any reason to expect an afterlife, and I think that when we die, that is the end. Which is also very sad (I mean, honestly, who wouldn't want to stick around with the people we love for at least a few extra millennia). My version of God does not ever deliberately move hurricanes or earthquakes or floods out of the way to protect cities from destruction. Frankly, when I look at the world, I do not see a God that does these things. While I think there are many similarities between emphatic believers and non-believers, I do not think they share the most commonly asserted similarity, which is faith. My version of God does not require faith, which was after all the point of your post.

    Rather, I think the things that connect us are that we are fascinated by many of the same kinds of questions. In particular, some sort of fundamental truth about why we are here, where did we come from, and what makes things happen the way they do. Why there is all this beauty and structure and symmetry around us, and what does it all mean? What is it that ties us all together, and makes us more than 7 billion isolated humans living our confused, separate lives? And what is eternal?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

  • Rickr0ll

    What about Mother Teresa, John? Of all the people, i think she probably deserved it the most:

    “ Where is my faith? Even deep down … there is nothing but emptiness and darkness … If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul … How painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal, … What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true.[Teresa, Mother (2007). Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0385520379.]

  • Rickr0ll

    Ah, Pat. I see what you mean. Baruch Spinoza, eh? http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/
    Fascinating. I however, see that if God is Nature, then why not simply leave it at Nature? After all, all the attributes of God are simply outshoots of His nature, which, in all honesty, is more powerful than the Identity or Ego of God. That is my opinion though.

    You point out John, that everything is a miracle. I dissagree. Our Existance in and of itself is indeed a miracle, but there is a mysterious metaphysical spin i put on it:

    Nothingness that exists, contradicts itself. Such contradiction is not allowed to be reality, and so Existance is spontaneously born from this outright impossibility. And, being impossibility, why should it behave itself, and leave our meek little universe alone? Because that would be precisely the Opposite of what you can imagine from literally limitless, chaotic, hyper creative energy that is forever unrealized.

    If such a ultra creative force were to unleash itself upon our universe, everything would be destroyed to build something new, and that as well, and so on, forever. But because that would be perfecly understandable, the impossible being greater in every sense than the possible, it becomes subserviant to reality as we know it.

    After all, infinity has no value in it, no sense of beauty or obligation. Only in the finite world does value really stick to ideas, and those ideas are stuck to things by us humans; meaning exists precisely because there is a stability and perseptivity in a finite sense.

    Indeed, everything IS beautiful John, and that is because there is this sadness that belongs to this, that subjective emotional state that is created by the realization that it is all too fleating. Well, i'll staunch the gushy romanticism for now John. I would appreciate your imput. Thanks for letting this godless bastard invade your space lol

  • Rickr0ll

    As a sidenote Pat, i read a book long ago that seemed to very closely resemble your sentiment and theology: Conversations With God, For Teens. Ironically, it was this book that forever closed off the christian worldview from my observance. I wish i could tell you the author’s name, as well as a few interesting passages, but it too was lost a great while ago.

    Now, just because i’m an athiest (a fairly strongly certain athiest, not “wishy-washy” agnosticism), Doesn’t mean that i won’t listen, and i have found there to be more than just the exceptional example of Mr. Shore worth listening to -and linking to, as the case is with John’s “What i Learned from the Athiests.”

    Zacharias is an incredable fellow on the Suddenly Athiest blog (headed by the “Polite Athiest” Morsec0de, who has acknowledged John several times in a good way), an Eastern Orthadox Christian, with some very illuminating things to say in regards to God. I can only hope to meet more like this in my slogging through the blogosphere.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Wow, Pat, I've gotten a LOT of comments on this blog, but this one of yours is truly special. It's fantastic. Thanks SO MUCH for writing it.


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