Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Higher Way of Seeing God

I was struck by something the other day that I have been considering ever since. It is not profound, but the combination of a very common scripture (and then one more) and the effort to understand and become more pure in heart has put something into a little different perspective for me.

The Book of Mormon includes the following statement from Alma, the High Priest, to Korihor, the professed atheist :

"The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." (Alma 30:44)

Alma lays out both a scientific and mathematical argument in this verse - speaking of the complexity of the creation and its intricate, "regular" operation as proof that God exists. In essence, he says, "This could not be without a God to make it be."

This seems simple to many people - that the creation itself, seen as encompassing all of which we are aware, testifies of a Supreme Creator. How is it NOT self-apparent to all? Why can some people look around - or even study the intricacies of molecular biology and string theory and quantum physics and other astounding modern discoveries - and NOT see that it simply can't be the result of random mutation from an origin that still is unfathomable to scientists? Why can these people not understand this, even when many of them are very good, moral people? We haven't even scratched the surface of it all, and yet some can't recognize it as a sign of a creator. WHY?

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

What struck me is that there is an element of "they shall see God" in one's ability to recognize the hand of God in His creations, but that ability is contingent on "yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit" - to having a heart purified by that Holy Spirit. What just hit me this instant, and is changing how this post evolves as I type, is that it is relatively easy - with even a small and comparatively weak connection to the Spirit - to see the grandeur of the universal creation and be humbled into a recognition of God in that creation. It is more difficult to rise above the natural man and see God in His most inspiring creation - His children.

From both a religious and evolutionary perspective, we are the height of creation - but we also carry within us its depth. We are god and devil in very practical terms, and, while it is easy for nearly everyone to see the fallen man (the chasm that separates us from God), it is very hard for many to recognize the embryonic child within that fallen man (the tie that will be bound in heaven). It is easy to see the caterpillar, but it is very difficult to see the butterfly within that caterpillar when it still is a caterpillar.

One of the most amazing things that happens when our hearts are purified by the power of the Holy Ghost is that, to some degree or another, we glimpse the inner butterflies around us while they still are limited by their caterpillar exteriors - and, in glimpsing those butterflies, we suddenly, in a very real and powerful way, begin to see God.


Mama D said...

I have always loved your caterpillar/butterfly analogy. This is an expanded insight into how seeing the butterflies within us while still caterpillars helps us see God.

Have you ever blogged about your initial analogy that you so often use in talks? If not, you should. :)

Christy said...

Hi Ray, I wonder if in some cases people fail to see God because of how He is portrayed. They don't see the loving, amazing Creator because they don't realize that is who He really is. Perhaps it is difficult to see those traits in the "god" that is worshipped by those who use Him to promote their own agendas, or to cause suffering to others, etc.

Jami said...

Really enjoyed this post.

It's interesting to me because I can not see the universe any other way than as a creation of God. And I know my sister (born and raised in the same household) can not see anything but awe-inspiring chance mutations and useful evolutions. I can understand what she believes but not why. She can not understand my why. I think that perhaps it's because there is a certain amount of faith in both of our positions, just faith in different things.

(Oh and sorry I was snippy the other day at BCC. Not one of my better moments. I seriously enjoy [almost] all of your comments.)

Papa D said...

That's an interesting point, Christy. Maybe they don't see Him, specifically because his reality doesn't match their expectations.

Jami, all of us are snippy at times. I have worked hard this year to be more meek and merciful, but I still catch myself succumbing occasionally. In fact, I just finished a comment on another blog that I has to edit for quite a while before I published it.

Your example of your own sister is fascinating - simply fascinating.