Who is God? (Introduction)

by dhw, Sunday, February 07, 2021, 10:55 (548 days ago) @ George Jelliss

GEORGE: I agree with a lot of what Horgan says.
But I don't think a sense of mystery can be interpreted as a god belief.
I wrote a poem on the subject years ago:


The magic word,
That with its peaceful black, starred cloth
Confounds the reasoned mind
Deceives the teeming brain
And stems the flood of thought.
Mankind has ever sought
For ends, but sought in vain
For ends are undefined;
Mere shadow-play of paradox,
Of formless shape,

From cell to ape
Though higher yet we strain
To scale perfection's peak
Before we end the human tale
Of ever-restless search

Fear not, no creed or church
Of truth or grace can hold the grail
For, ever though we seek,
For ever will remain
Some unsolved

This has gone through several versions, and I'm still not happy with it,
but it is the best I can offer at the moment.
It is only if you have a sense of mystery, as Newton did,
that you can continue discovering new things.

DAVID: Thank you for this wonderful contribution. I'm always filled with a sense of wonder and mystery.

Thanks from me too, George. You’ve captured the essence of our quest and of the feelings that have inspired it. And I completely agree with your introductory remark concerning mystery and a “God belief”. When circumstances (e.g. funerals) have compelled me to attend a church service (pre-Covid), I have always felt the urge to shout out some of the sentiments you’ve expressed so clearly.

I hope it won’t seem churlish if I pick on two things that didn’t seem to me to fit in. I don’t think mystery ever “stems the flood of thought”. I’d say it’s the contrary, and your brilliant poem is proof of that! And I don’t know why the last verse begins with “Fear not”. Those who cling to their different fixed beliefs - and I include the atheist faith that all the mysteries will one day be explained by “natural” reasons - think they have found a solution to the mysteries. Maybe in some cases, they cling to these beliefs because otherwise they would be afraid. (I love the neutrality of “creed” here!) Tiny, tiny cavils amid paeans of agnostic praise. Thank you again.

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