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Is There a God and What is God Like?

~ Exploring the evidence of love

Written on November 28, 2017
The essay below was originally published as a video on YouTube. I've finally published the text version here, with all of the photos and artwork that are in the video.

Feb 9, 2019

Click on images to see larger version.

Is it non-intellectual and foolish to believe that God exists? Is there any evidence in the world around us that will demonstrate that God exists and also show us what God is like?

Viggo the CatWhenever I kiss our cat on his forehead, he begins to purr. When I place my cheek against his, and hear and feel the contentment of his purring, I sense an invisible but palpable energy of love pass between his consciousness and mine. He expresses and responds to love, as do I.

Crescent Beach Meadow, MaineWhen I walked on the beach one wintry afternoon, with a half-moon riding along the clouds that flowed from a sunset over my favorite meadow, my soul lifted and expanded in response to the beauty and love expressed in front of me.

Moments like these are both common and ineffable. Is there any person in the entire world who has never felt even one moment of love, who has never felt even one moment of joy because of beauty? I do not believe there is.

Lives of tragedy, captivity, hostility, or pain may grind down our perception of love and beauty. Lives of busyness may distract us from the subtleties of life. But at some point we all have experienced at least a fleeting encounter with a pure and transcendent moment of beauty, of kindness, and of love.

I submit that God is the author of that love and beauty—that God not only created all of the beauty that we perceive in the universe, but by God’s very nature inhabits the beauty and love that we see all around us. IAtomt is accepted science that material things consist of various elements from the periodic table, made up of molecules, atoms, and finally energy. I believe that the ineffable and invisible qualities of life, such as love and beauty, are also very real, very powerful, and have an intelligent source as well.

There are many reasons for people to not believe in God or dismiss the relevance of God. Some reject the notion of God because God has been presented and represented by various religious peoples as a God who is unforgiving, harsh, cruel, and even hateful. Some have rejected God because of personal pain in their lives, thinking that since God did not prevent their tragedies, it must mean that God does not exist—or at the very least, is not worthy of regard.

God as old manOthers reject God because God has often been depicted as a male Creator, a “Lord” or “Father” that did not seem to represent the women who make up half the human race. Many reject or ignore God because they simply cannot feel the presence and love of God in their life.

So, thus the questions: is there a God and what is God like?

The debate between atheists and those who believe in God has been a lengthy one. I propose a “point of order” to that debate—a question posed to those who don’t believe in God:

If adequate evidence was presented to demonstrate that the universe was created by an Intelligent Source who embodied all of the best qualities of life (such as love, kindness, compassion, fairness, justice, and integrity) would you feel comfortable accepting that evidence and agreeing that yes, indeed, an Intelligent Creator exists?

I ask this because it seems to me that atheism is not only an intellectual position—but an emotional one as well, as described above. This is not meant to fault the views of atheists, because it makes perfect sense to reject the idea of a cruel and malicious God who simply watches as human beings sink in and out of misery. But what if God was not cruel and malicious after all?

This also doesn’t fault the ethics or qualities of goodness that are present in many humans who espouse atheism, or other religions or thought systems that don’t include the idea of an intelligent creator. There are many kind and loving people who don’t believe in God, and there are many malformed and cruel humans who have very strong beliefs in their versions of God.

This is simply an inquiry into the existence and character of God. I use the word “God” for convenience, to describe “the Intelligent Creator of all life.”

With those who believe in God, both monotheists and polytheists, we see a large variety of opinions about “what God is like.” Some present God as kind and loving and parental, while others believe that God is a harsh and exacting lord who views humans as servants. Some believe that God is male, while others view God as female, or both male and female. Eternal Hell?Many believe that God created an eternal hell where unbelievers will writhe in torment forever.

I do not believe it is useful to debate doctrine or personal beliefs. Humans are stubborn creatures, and don’t easily change their views until they are ready to do so. That readiness is often sparked by some level of dissatisfaction with their current view of life, whether atheistic or religious. Sometimes, their dissatisfaction stems from a feeling of stultification within their current creed, or disillusionment with the practitioners of their religion.

For whatever reason, we change our beliefs when we wish to. Still, even though we all may currently be living within what Dr. Deepak Chopra calls “boundaries of belief,” is it not valuable—or at least intellectually and spiritually interesting—to open our horizons to discussions of what might be true about God and the universe?

I find the following verse from Romans 1:20 inescapably logical. Saint Paul wrote:

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.

Polly Kapteyn BrownPerhaps because my mother, Polly Kapteyn Brown, was an artist and art teacher, the view that a creator imbues his or her personality or knowledge into a creation seems like a “no-brainer” to me. We express outwardly what we contain within ourselves, in ways that are revealed both deliberately and by accident. Conversely stated, we cannot create something that we know nothing about, which means that when we create something we can clearly state that it reflected something inside us.

For decades, I’ve been exploring the fascinating idea that the way to truly understand what God is like is to observe the universe of created beings and then to extrapolate God’s nature based on those observations. In so doing, one also gains an ever-clearer affirmation that the existence of the universe did indeed require an Intelligent Creator.

This type of examination requires objectivity and the putting aside of emotional blocks about God, as well as an openness to examine dogmas with critical thought. In other words, our beliefs and faith that “my doctrine is true because it was written that way” may not hold water if certain dogmas are looked at with an open mind—and that includes atheism, which is also a dogma.

The artist-creation methodology of discovering information about a creator is best done comprehensively. One could point to a painting by an artist that is dark and dreary and conclude that the painter is constantly depressed, but doing so would not necessarily be accurate, fSharkor one’s body of work is more than a single sketch. In the same way, one could look at sharks and say that God is cruel and vicious, but we must not forget puppies, which of course are the very opposite of cruel.

PuppyHow does the artist-creation method demonstrate that God exists—that the universe was created by an intelligent source?

To me, it employs the power of common sense to cut through all of the stubborn insistence that the universe was a random accident that began from nothing. It must be stated that when a person refuses to give credence to common sense, it raises the possibility that such refusal is generated by emotional motivations.

If we look at a fine, Swiss watch and state that it came into being randomly, without human intervention, most people would raise an eyebrow and say, “Huh?” The same could be said for the play Romeo and Juliet, because not even monkeys pounding on typewriter keys could reproduce that elegant masterpiece.

Swiss Watch   Romeo and Juliet - Play   Monkey with Typewriter   Romeo and Juliet - Painting

One could spend days listing the creations of humans that obviously required human thought and action to come into being, including smart phones, computers, movies, automobiles, aircraft, and . . . you get the idea.

Smartphone   Laptop   Movie Theater   Automobile   Jet

And yet, not one human creation, however mind-bogglingly intricate and amazing it may be, contains the invisible power of life itself. FlamingoI’m not just talking about physical life, in all of its muddy and messy glory. I’m also referring to the invisible parts of life that are too often ignored in discussions like this—things like thought, imagination, dreams, and perhaps most importantly, love.

EvolutionRemember, the atheistic scientists and advocates of “evolution without God” are positing that all of the incredible creations in the universe, including the invisible attributes of creation like sentient thought, love, kindness, compassion, and creativity, all came from nothing, with absolutely no input from a non-existent intelligent creator. The sales pitch is that “it all makes sense” because it’s clear that life did indeed evolve from little crawly things into bigger, nicer things, so since evolution happened, it must be evidence that there was no creative intelligence behind it—just because we can’t see one.

In the 2014 book Miracles by Eric Metaxas, the author writes:

Antony FlewJust ten years ago, probably the most prominent atheist of the twentieth century, Antony Flew, concluded that a God must have designed the universe. It was shocking news and made international headlines. DNAFlew came to believe that the extraordinarily complex genetic code in DNA simply could not be accounted for naturalistically. It didn’t make logical sense to him that it had happened merely by chance, via random mutations. It is a remarkable thing that Flew had the humility and intellectual honesty to do a public about-face on all he had stood for and taught for five decades.

Just because we can’t measure and weigh and examine an intelligent creator of the universe is no reason at all to reject the possibility of one. To me, it makes much more sense to examine the evidence of life in the universe and ask the appropriate, logical questions that follow. Is it more likely that the universe was created by an intelligent source, or less likely? Using all of the above examples, it’s clear that it’s more likely, and thus—even though that creator is hard to pin down, it’s a valid occupation to research what the creator is like.

In fact, I believe it should be a priority for all humans to devote significant amounts of time to the examination of the cause and purpose of life and the universe. We all will die one day. Isn’t it worth a bit of research to find out why the heck we were born?

Even though many—if not all —humans experience various degrees of pain, suffering, and tragedy in their lives, I believe that the universe on the whole presents a different picture of life—a tapestry of love and beauty that is woven into every level and type of life and matter and energy.

Painting: Some Heart Did BreakWhere does our pain come from? Most of it comes from our interactions with other humans, usually caused by thoughts, words, and actions that are at least partially devoid of love. Many of the cascading levels of pain caused by humans stem from the fact that humans have the freedom to be selfish.

Painting: Drowned FishermanSometimes our pain has been caused by our interaction with nature, such as the tragedies of natural disasters, encounters with animals that ended badly, or one-on-one battles with various parts of nature, like drownings at sea. In spite of those tragic incidents, nature is not innately hostile to humans. GalaxiesTaken as a whole, nature, from the immense grandeur and complexity of galaxies all the way down to the Chipmunkmelt-your-heart cuteness of a chipmunk, presents an environment which plainly exists for the sake of humans.

Hound DogI’m also very sure that hound dogs love lying on a rock in the sun, so yes, the universe also benefits everything that exists within it, in a magical dance of complex interactions. Yet, humans have a transcendent, limitless, and magnificent relationship with the universe. If we listen to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 Sunsetwhile watching a sunset, sitting next to a person whom we love, we can feel something ineffable that brings us a knowledge that life is more—more than just survival, scrabbling over coins and gadgets.

Putting aside for a moment the pain that has been caused by the human freedom to be selfish, is it not true that the majesty and beauty of a universe that has been designed to support our lives is something to wonder at? Isn’t it something that causes us to stop for a moment in our busyness and ask if there was a motivation of love behind the almost infinite volume of details of the universe, all working together for each of us?

It is not at all trivial that the moving parts of the universe, from atoms to planets and everything in between: chipmunks and butterflies, water and air, and the way our human bodies function, all operate in harmony to create our lives and environment in a way that ultimately gives us joy. It is not trivial at all.

Atom   Planets   Ballet

The beauty and efficacy of the universe reflect a love that to me is overwhelming in its constancy and commitment. If one posits that the universe was created by an Intelligent Source, one must—after a thorough examination—conclude that that Source loves human beings.

Then, what about the suffering caused by human freedom? Why would God allow that? The simple, non-doctrinal answer is that human freedom allows humans to love and to create. Yes, we are free to be evil, but we are also free to be gloriously heroic, kind, loving, and good. Real love between human beings created with freedom is a reflection of the very same love that was and is being expressed to us—given to us—by a free and intelligent creator. Our freedom allows our love to match the love of the Creator. Thus, the possibility of evil is simply the price that has to be paid to allow creative love to grow in the human heart.

Creation of AdamWhat then, is God like? Of course, this is a question that will never be fully answered, because God’s creation is infinite. The universe is infinite, and there will always be one more planet to explore, where we’ll find Giraffeone more amazingly humorous, spotted, giraffe-like creature prancing across a field covered with flowers that sing as we giggle at the pure oddity of the things that have been created by the Source of Humor.Field of flowers

But… we can know, most assuredly, that God is the source of every good thing that we’ve ever encountered, every beautiful human emotion, every delightful musical composition, every sunset, and Laughing Childevery laughing child. The creator of transcendent, human love—the love that we’ve written about in poems and plays and stories and songs—is by definition even more loving than that.

This means that the evils in human life that we all abhor are equally abhorrent to the Creator of Love. It is common sense, rooted in the wisdom of each of our souls, to know that God is saddened by human evil, and wants every person, without exception, to mature into the wonderful, magnificent human being that each of us were created to be. This also means that God is supremely egalitarian, because every human soul is a uniquely created part of God and is thus intimately connected to God in a personal and private way. Each human is a flowering of one aspect of God’s creativity. A poet who has written a hundred poems considers each poem unique, and has a special love for each of them. Every human is an incarnation and wellspring of one unique part of God’s infinite personality.

Looking at the human race, one could say that God is multi-colored, birthing every race and every person, each as beautiful as the others. If it’s true for fields of flowers, how can it not be true for us?

Some have felt that God is distant, like a master relating to servants, only pleased when the servants perform their tasks without mistakes. Yet, we can plainly see that the model of the human family, with a father, a mother, and children, is very different from the master-servant pattern.

Good mothers and good fathers (and there have been countless examples of each) love their children with a depth and width that is priceless—a love so great that they would die for their children—a love so profound that their hearts break if their children experience pain.

Who created that model of both masculine and feminine love? Who created the model of the love between parents and children, husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters? Common sense will say that God did, and thus, one can extrapolate something that is not generally considered—that God is indeed, as the creator of both male and female, a God who is both male and female.

Bouguereau LullabyTo many religious people, that sounds outrageous. I was raised an Episcopalian, and for many years, I prayed to “Heavenly Father.” Which is perfectly fine, of course, since God created fathers and must know all about fatherhood. But what about motherhood? Since God created mothers, I finally reached the conclusion that God knew all about motherhood as well, and in fact knew all about femininity—not as a male God who “understood” women, but rather as a God who fully embodied both masculinity and femininity.

Goya PaintingThis particular artist-creation examination of what God is like reveals that God’s feelings and attitude toward human beings have been demonstrated in the human family. We must ask then: would good fathers and mothers condemn their children to an eternal prison of hell for any reason whatsoever? The key word here is eternal. A child might indeed have to spend time in prison, but not for eternity, because eventually the child will begin to feel sorrow for what he or she did, and will thus seek redemption.

10 Million Years Ago
The "Deinotherium"
10 Million Years Ago
A relative of elephants

Compassionate and loving parents would never say, “Nope. Too late. Burn forever.” Note that “forever” is longer than ten million years or some other very long span of time. No crime would fit that punishment, especially if the perpetrator had repented and changed and evolved into a better person. Such eternal condemnation is monstrously unthinkable.

If good human parents would not do that, then why would God, as the creator of compassionate love, condemn people to hell forever? I submit that God would never do that, which means that the doctrine of eternal hell is simply incorrect. Bouguereau - Soul Carried to HeavenIt is far more reasonable to conclude that God will guide everyone to change and grow in their quality of goodness until they are all liberated from the hell that they might have created for themselves. Love demands that this is so.

The exploration of what God is like is endless, in a fascinating and good way. There will always be more to discover. However, I believe that the evidence of love and beauty in the universe clearly demonstrates that God’s mind and heart are completely focused on living with us, loving with us, and helping us find the way to resonate and harmonize with the ever-creative love that God continuously seeks to express.

Image Credits
Photo of Viggo the Cat, by Peter Falkenberg Brown
Photo of the Crescent Beach Meadow, by Peter Falkenberg Brown
Image of Atom by Gerd Altmann, Public Domain
Painting of “God the Father and Angel,” 1620
by Guercino (Giovan Francesco Barbieri), Public Domain
Painting of “An Angel Leading a Soul into Hell,” 16th Century
by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch, Public Domain
Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
Photo of Polly Kapteyn Brown, circa 1970, photographer unknown
Photo of Shark, Fallows C, Gallagher AJ, Hammerschlag N (2013)
Published in a Public Library of Science journal., CC BY 2.5
Photo of a 16 week old Kooikerhondje puppy, 2017
by Harriet Bedell-Pearce, CC BY-SA 4.0
Photo of a Carl F. Bucherer manufactured watch movement, 2016
by Carl F. Bucherer, CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo of Cover of Play: Romeo and Juliet, Public Domain
Painting of the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, 1884
Frank Dicksee  (1853–1928), Public Domain
Photo of a chimpanzee seated at a typewriter, circa 1906
New York Zoological Society, Public Domain
Photo of LG G6, LG전자, CC BY 2.0
Photo of Honda NSX, User:Ed g2s, CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo of Air France Concorde, 2003, by Alexander Jonsson
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Photo of Laptop by AVADirect Custom Computers, 2015, Cmccarthy8
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
Photo of neon theatre marquee, 2016, Jedi94
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Video of Flamingos in the zoo of Wuppertal, 2013, by Frank Vincentz
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Image of Timeline showing different events in the evolution of life
2012, LadyofHats, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
Photo of Antony Flew, Public Domain
Image of Human DNA, double helix shape, 2016
by Pixabay, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
Painting of “Never Morning Wore to Evening but Some Heart Did Break,” 1894
by Walter Langley  (1852–1922), w1524 x h1220 mm, Public Domain
Painting of “The drowned fisherman,” 1896
by Michael Peter Ancher, 289 × 212.5 cm, (Without frame)
Statens Museum for Kunst, Public Domain
Photo of the Antennae Galaxies, 2013
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, ESA/Hubble & NASA
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Photo of Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) taken at Garret Mountain, West Paterson, NJ
Photographer: Magnus Manske
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Photo of Anatolian Shepherd guarding his flock, 2012
by Sirswindon
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Photo of A dramatic sunset, 2005
Fir0002 at en.wikipedia
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Image of positions and names of planets in the Solar System, 2013, by WP
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Photo of Contemporary ballet, 2005, by Jeff from denver, US
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Painting of “The Creation of Adam,” circa 1511
by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, Public Domain
Photo of Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata, 2007
Brookenovak, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Photo of Flowers (Blooms53), 2013
by Korona Lacasse, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Photo of A baby wearing many items of winter clothing, 2007
by Andrew Vargas from Clovis, United States
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Painting of “Berceuse (Le coucher)” [Lullaby (Bedtime)], 1873
by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Oil on canvas, 112 x 86.5 cm (3 ft. 8 in. x 2 ft. 10 in.)
Image courtesy of the Art Renewal Center
Painting of “Chained Prisoner,” between 1806 and 1812
by Francisco de Goya, Indian ink wash
Height: 218 mm (8.58 in). Width: 151 mm (5.94 in), Public Domain
Photo of Deinotherium (German: Hauerelefant), 2008
Museum am Löwentor, Stuttgart, by Ra'ike
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Painting of “A Soul Carried to Heaven”
by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Public Domain
Most Images from Wikimedia Commons

Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”

~ Deus est auctor amoris et decoris. ~

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