It’s All About The Mystery That Gives Insight Into The Workings Of The Universe

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Where God Is In Nature, Comprehensibility Follows, Where God And Nature Part-Incomprehensibility

Halifax Bar Conversation

July 31, ‘82

While on Cape Breton, Dorothy and Bruce came into our campsite and asked if they could videotape Mike and I. At the time, we were setting up our tent. Dorothy wanted to include a camping scene in the advertising campaign she and Bruce were putting together. Before the evening was over, we were invited to Bruce’s place if and when we arrived in Halifax. Since Bill and I had just arrived in Halifax, it was time to see if that invitation was still good, and it was.

After spending a very pleasant evening with Bruce, in the morning, he asked Bill and I if we wanted to go with him to a photo shoot that he was doing down at the docks. Bill agreed, but I opted for a different kind of sightseeing. I went to the Mariners’ Museum and after that took in Halifax’s art gallery. Later in the afternoon, however, the three of us met at a prearranged spot—Bruce’s favorite bar. Just as I arrived at the bar, Bill got up to leave. He had rendezvoused with the girl he had met on the train, and the two of them left to have dinner.

Bruce was in a talkative mood. He and Bill had had a few beers before I arrived, so he was overflowing with questions. Bill had told him about my beliefs concerning God and Bruce wanted to know more. “You know,” he said, “I used to talk a lot about God too, but it wasn’t very flattering. Your God seems different; that is, if I understood Bill correctly. So tell me, what’s the deal, are you talking pantheism or something else?”

“Bill must have turned over a new leaf,” I replied, “he was never really into religion. But, no matter, it’s my favorite subject, and, yes, I believe in a kind of pantheism, but it’s even more than that. I guess you could say I believe in the mystery of understanding, the mystery that gives conscious insight into the workings of the universe—a divine universe.”

“What are you talking about? Some kind of conscious pantheism?” Bruce responded.

“Yeah, something like that,” I replied, “but I’m also talking about why the universe is predictable and behaves according to law.”

“Excuse me,” Bruce said, “can you explain that?”

“I’d rather we just enjoy our beer,” I replied. “But, in a nutshell, it works like this: nature becomes comprehensible because God is in everything, and that’s the reality of it.”

“I like that,” said Bruce. “At least the reality part; my camera and I know a little something about that. But you know, what you just said, sounds a lot like Hegel. History, for Hegel, was the self-realization process of God.”

“I only know Hegel through Marx,” I said. “Someday I would like to know more.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t waste my time if I were you. He’s dense,” Bruce responded. “I was on the debate team in school and my professor was a religious fanatic. The class spent the whole semester debating the consciousness—divinity thing. I was on the nay-saying side. Those guys—Hegel, Whitehead, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin—if you ask me, were up a creek without a paddle. If you want to know about God all you have to do is look through my camera. That’s reality; it’s also my bread and butter. It doesn’t get any more real than that. Beauty, guts, and glory, I capture it all, right here, through this lens. Believe me, in the end, if it’s not in the picture, it doesn’t exist. The camera doesn’t lie.”

“That’s one way of looking at it, I guess.”

“That’s the only way,” replied Bruce.

“I beg your pardon, you won’t object if I continue to believe in God will you?”

“To each his own,” Bruce responded.

“Good—because that’s one thing I can’t do without—even if we don’t agree,” I said, “even if I’m wrong. I still get to believe whatever I want. That’s called free will, or don’t you believe in that either?”

“I’ve never seen it in a photograph,” said Bruce.

“Aw, yes you have,” I replied, “it’s right there in front of you, in the frame of the photograph. It’s found in the picking and choosing of the ‘right’ picture. Photographs tell stories! How could it be otherwise? Think about it, and then tell me I’m wrong!”

“I never thought about it like that,” Bruce replied. “Maybe?”

“Maybe yes,” I said, “in fact, if I’m wrong than I’m wrong about God too.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bruce responded.

“It means God is woven into everything, into the smallest detail. It’s all just a moment for God, a divine moment.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” said Bruce. “That’s stupid. Haven’t you heard? Time has taken a hit. After Einstein, it was knocked off its pedestal. Time is relative now. Your divine moment is meaningful only as a frame of reference. Is your god a frame of reference? If so, God is absolutely irrelevant because ref
erence frames change with the observer, or more specifically, with the observer’s momentum!”

To be concluded…

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