It’s amazing how many people believe that God hears their prayers. Have they ever gotten a clear-cut, unambiguous, no-doubt-about-it confirmation message back from God? “Got your call. Will take request under consideration.”
After I buy something from Amazon I get an almost instant email response. That way I know that the order I sent off through the electronic maze of the Internet has reached the right place and my material desire soon will be delivered to my doorstep.
I’ve never gotten the same courtesy from God. Kind of makes me wonder if my calls are getting through. The “Can you hear me now?” Verizon Test Man reportedly represents a crew of 50 Verizon employees who drive 100,000 miles a year to test the reliability of their company’s cell phone network.
If I can go out on the deck of my rural Oregon home and talk to someone halfway around the world, it seems to me that God should be able to create a 24/7 two-way communication system between us and Him/Her/It. So what’s the problem?
It can’t be lack of knowledge. Isn’t God omniscient? It can’t be lack of coverage. Isn’t God omnipresent? It can’t be lack of resources. Isn’t God omnipotent? It can’t be lack of will to share divinity with suffering souls. Isn’t God omnibenevolent?
So there’s something going on here with God’s soul phone service that can’t be explained with simplistic metaphysics. Complex metaphysics, such as is contained in Clifford Pickover’s great book “The Paradox of God and the Science of Omniscience,” doesn’t offer up an answer either, but at least Pickover helps us understand some of the mystifying dimensions of the problem.
For example, if God is omniscient then the future is an open book to this being, or power. God knows what has happened, is happening, and will happen. However, if God is omnipotent then anything is possible. God can do whatever pleases the divine will. So God can’t know what is going to happen in the future if God has the power to change the future. Thus God can’t be both omniscient and omnipotent.
So maybe God doesn’t respond to calls because of some cosmic software design, like when Windows freezes due to program incompatibilities. There are a lot of “maybes” like this one floating around the theological skies, a lot of hot air metaphysical balloons that are interesting to look at but can’t carry us very far.
All I know is that the evidence is overwhelming in favor of the conclusion that communication with God is a one-way conversation. A countless number of prayers, mantras, and the like have been directed to God over thousands of years. The supposed responses are almost entirely unbelievable, lacking any sort of unequivocal proof that the being on the other end of the conversation is truly divine and not merely human.
Here’s my own theory as to why God doesn’t reply to us personally when spoken to: God isn’t a person. God is a power. A universal power. God is always “speaking.” It just isn’t in a language that we can understand. If we think we hear God talking to us, that isn’t God; it’s us.
When the human mind gets tired of its one-way God conversation, it conjures up an imaginary second party, much as my daughter used to speak to her stuffed animals: “How are you today, Sunshine?” “Just fine! Let’s play!” I could hear her in her room speaking in two different voices. Sadly, people who believe that they are talking with God don’t realize that they’re carrying on both ends of the conversation.
I’m sure that many people in the world would vehemently disagree with my last statement. Okay, so show me the proof that you’re conversing with the Lord Almighty. A display of omniscience would be pretty convincing. For example, after you talk with God publicly predict what winning lottery numbers will be picked in an upcoming drawing. Better yet, take all of your life’s savings and bet them on those numbers. Then you can enjoy your riches while you bask in your surefire worldwide renown as God’s friend, par excellence. Or, not.
What’s always made both good scientific and mystical sense to me is this approach: Go ahead and talk to God. Pray in many words or repeat a mantra of one word. No matter. Talk away. If you believe that God is outside of yourself, fine. If you believe that God is inside of yourself, fine. If you believe that God is neither inside or outside of yourself, fine. If you believe that you are God, also fine.
Just go on talking. It’s natural to want to reach out and touch someone, especially the One. Personally, I favor the simplest mantra speaking. One word of one syllable will do. There’s nothing wrong with just “God, God, God, God, God,” as the anonymous Christian author of The Cloud of Unknowing recommended. Or whatever other word strikes your fancy. And then…
Do nothing more. At least during the time of meditation when you’re doing your concentrated talking to God. Shut up. Except for that one word. That way, if you get a response, you’re pretty sure that it isn’t coming from yourself. Even a ventriloquist can’t make two voices come out of one mouth (and mind) if he or she is saying the same thing over and over.
When you talk to someone on a cell phone they will interrupt you while you’re speaking if there’s something they want to say. If you’re talking in the mouthpiece and the sound of another voice is emanating from the earpiece, then you can be pretty darn sure you’re not talking with yourself
“God, can you hear me now?” After saying this it’s better to listen to an honest silence than imagine a false reply.