The concept of a first cause is common sense, but just in case you’re in the fossil record camp, let’s take a look at some of the scientifically compelling evidence for an original, intentional, creative intelligence.
In 2012, the crux of the debate seems to center around the issue of consciousness. Sure, a whole bunch of inert matter banged itself into existence, we can all agree on that, but that isn’t even the biggest monkey wrench in the atheist’s anxiety closet.
Don’t get me wrong – the statistical probability of our universe achieving the conditions to support sentient life in the first place is so slim that there has not been enough time in the scientifically known span of existence to allow for all the correct random details to fall into place by themselves. Billions and billions of years? Nope, not enough. Small technical problem.
But even if you leave aside the fact that the entirety of the known universe appears to have been, in the words of the scientific community, fine-tuned for life – and it’s a lot to leave aside, but whatever, suit yourself – nonetheless, the rise of consciousness itself is even more of a conundrum. It’s the atheists’ Rubik’s Cube. It’s their Immovable Rock. (Ehem, cough-cough, Richard Dawkins, APOLOGETICS, cough.)
The truth is, “He didn’t fall, Jim. He was pushed.” How did inert matter organize itself into sentience? As of 2012, there is no known answer to that question. Except the ones that begin to sound suspiciously theological.
For all its mystery, consciousness remains the most unique, beautiful – dare I say, creative – creation of them all. Sure, all the scientists in the world can’t jazz their brains up enough to find a way to pop even a lump of rock out of nothing at all, but far more impressive than a lump of rock was, say, Mozart or Tolkien or Rabbi Cohen. (Which Rabbi Cohen? Take your pick. They’re all more impressive than a lump of rock, I assure you, by virtue of the simple fact that they are human.)
G-d asserts creative mastery over His universe by bringing it into existence moment by ineffable moment, a fact that even the physical sciences have impressed upon us of late due to the persistent and growing voice of quantum physics, despite all Newtonian evidence to the contrary. Particles of a scale beyond ken arise out of nothingness at a rate more similar to ideas than to physical matter, these being the fundamental building blocks of our everything – milkshakes and nerve endings and comets and walrus tusks!
And still, as awe-inspiring as it is, as inconceivably amazing as it is, all this assertion of G-d’s mastery pales in the face of His ongoing creation of human intelligence. Look: G-d gave lumps of rock (okay, not rock precisely, more like protons, neutrons and electrons) the ability to up and assert their own creative mastery. What could be more mind blowing than that? The ability to reflect and assert creative mastery over one’s reality, in a word, human consciousness – this is a gift. Not even the most dedicated and brilliant of scientists can explain it without asserting a purposeful, masterful intelligence.
Purposeful, masterful intelligence? We call that G-d. What best proves G-d in 2012? That G-d created creativity.
And once a week He asks us to keep Him in mind.
The thirty-nine general categories of forbidden behaviors on Shabbos are based on the thirty-nine general categories of creative work it took to construct the Mishkan. The various labors that comprise farming and landscaping, the culinary arts, textile development, the visual and literary arts, urban development, business: in Jewish consciousness, these and the other thirty-nine melachos are thought to be the basis of how humans assert our creative mastery over our world. The Almighty gives us the ability to imitate Him on something like His own terms.
We revel and thrive in this unique capacity but it can also lead us to be a little too big for our britches. When we forget that our strength stems from an Infinite Source of strength, our wisdom from an Infinite Source of wisdom, our creativity from an Infinite Source of creativity, we cripple ourselves. We block our access to our own Source. Why is Shabbos is called mekor habracha, the source of blessing? It’s not just a flowery metaphor. Refraining from creative mastery once a week does not limit us, it reconnects us with the Source of creativity.
In making time to connect with the Almighty, we replenish our capacity to do everything that matters. We revive our capacity to be human instead of machine. We tap the bloodstream of our creativity and all our other strengths. Shabbos is a twenty-six hour island in time that allows us to let go of anything holding us back.
After all, tap into G-d and you’ve tapped into everything. Plug into His Torah and you’re back in the captain’s chair – the controls are all laid out before you, all the secrets of the universe at your command.
Shabbos is often thought of as a day of rest due to a mistranslation of the word menucha. On the seventh day, G-d had menucha. Does that mean that the Almighty grabbed an easy chair and whipped up a Pina Colada? Give me a break. An accurate translation of menucha is less akin to couch-potato and more akin to letting go.
On Shabbos we let go. We let go of our worries and troubles. We let go of our illusory and grasping sense of control. We let go of fear. (Nobody will die if you stop checking your e-mail for one day.) We let go of our busywork and let in our family. We let go of what we do and let in who we are. We let go and let G-d.
What comes in when you let go? A Presence. Call the Presence the Shabbos Queen. Call the Presence the Shechina. Call the Presence the Source, the Force. Call the Presence the First Cause, a Creative Intelligence, Oraysa. Call the Presence what you will, He is there. He is not an “it” (or a “he” in the sense of gender, but that is a different story). The point is that He is so alive that He is the very source of life.
And what happens when consciousness taps into its Source? What sparks fly? What creativity is apt to occur? What amazing possibilities are brought to into being? That’s between you and Him, an intimacy called Shabbos that is at the center of all time and space. Big bang? Boom.