Meteor Shower (370).
(photo credit: Itamar Hassan)
When the so-called “God particle” was found by scientists in Switzerland – at a
cost of some 10 billion euros – there was great excitement, as if we were
somehow closer to finding the meaning of the existence of the universe and proof
of the existence of God. Of course, that particle has nothing to do with the
essence of God. Indeed, there is no way science can prove or disprove God’s
existence. The truth is that if we were to spend twice as much money it would
still not be possible to come up with such a proof. Remember how when the
Soviets sent men into space they proclaimed that they had not found God there
and that therefore their atheistic doctrine was correct? It is reasonable to
believe that there is a God, but it is not provable scientifically.
Milton Steinberg once compared reasons for belief in God and reasons for saying
there is no God. Given the dynamic universe in which we live – a creative
universe conforming to set principles – he asks, “which interpretation is the
more congruous: that it is an idiot’s tale in character, or that it is a
progressive manifestation of Spirit? The plausibilities are heavily in favor of
the latter,” he concludes. “Only it renders comprehensible the soul of man,
invested with sanity, moral yearning, and sensitivity – a phenomenon which
otherwise must remain an anomaly. Only it offers an accounting for the
law-abiding quality of the cosmos.”
Perhaps the best reason for belief is
that it is difficult to believe that human consciousness – mine or any other –
is the highest form of intelligence that exists in this vast and unfathomable
universe or that this awe-inspiring and endless expanse of existence has no
meaning and no creator.
The classic texts of Judaism do not really
attempt to prove God’s existence. Rather, Judaism’s regimen of prayers and
blessings is intended to develop within us a sense of awe and wonder at the
universe and at life itself and thus to remind each of us of the presence of God
in the world. We see the light and bless God; we see the evening and mention
God; we eat a piece of bread and ascribe it to God.
Rather than spending
time looking for God or for proofs of God, we should search for the answer to
the question, What does God want of me? The best answer that I know of was given
by the prophet Micah (6:8): “What does the Lord require of you? Only to do
justly and to love mercy and to walk modestly with your God.”
That is not
so simple. It requires a lifetime of living, of daily decisions. Is this action
just? Does this decision reflect true goodness and mercy? By my actions, by my
words, by my deeds and my thoughts am I walking modestly together with God? As
Lincoln said when asked if he thought God was on his side in the war, “The
question is not if God is on my side, but if I am on God’s side.”
relations with others, with family, with friends, with strangers, with people we
know and people we do not know, all require us to make choices. Sometimes we
make the right ones and sometimes we make the wrong ones.
When we make
the right ones, we find God – we let God in and we bring God’s will to life. We
let God find us and we answer God’s call: Only to do justly and to love mercy
and to walk modestly with your God.
That is the way to find the true “God
particle” – and it costs much less than 10 billion euros.
former president of the International Rabbinical Assembly, is a two-time winner
of the National Book Award. His latest book is The Torah Revolution (Jewish