Arthur M. Young



What is God
by Arthur M. Young (1985)

It is characteristic of modern sophistication to regard the notion of God as anthropomorphic. Anthropomorphic means manlike, the implication being that the god of bears would be bearlike; that is, all creatures would portray their supreme principle in their own form.

But the pejorative use of the word anthropomorphic is false. The effort to substitute scientific thinking results only in limitation to something that is of less scope, less power than the best that we as humans can accomplish.

The real question is, what is man? And if we mean that God is not a two-legged animal we should realize that man is also not an animal, but an immortal spirit using the ape-like body because it is less specialized than other animal forms.

The theory of process describes evolution as occurring in seven grand stages, each consisting of substages, which begin with what is potential and end with the goal attained. By a survey of nature we can see how this process unfolds in the kingdoms of nature, how evolution goes through stages. These stages have a necessary sequence and character, universa1 to all processes. Thus language consists of meaningful statements or sentences which are organizations of words; words are combinations of a limited alphabet of letters, and letters are made up of marks (straight lines and curves). This organon of language is what it is because it could not be otherwise. To have an unlimited variety of words and be able to make them available we have to have a finite alphabet of letters, a tool kit as it were. The letters, in turn, must be formed from simpler ingredients, preferably binary.

The kingdoms of nature are similar. Living organisms are cellular organizations of molecules which are combinations of atoms. There are only 92 kinds of atom. Thus the atomic kingdom provides the alphabet of nature. Atoms, in turn, are formed of yet simpler binary ingredients, proton and electron.

But this whole repertoire--or process of constructing self-motivated organisms which we call the physical universe--is a vehicle for the accommodation of spirit, which requires this manifestation for its growth and self-discovery.

The spirit or life spark which animates this manifestation could be called God. Or we could call the goal that it moves toward God, or we could call the whole thing God. But if the whole thing is God then we have to distinguish between the downward pull into manifestation (disintegration), which is also the necessity to get means, from the upward motion (integration) which uses the means to get to the goal of self-realization.

Picture if you will a man who has a million sheep. He wants to count them. This would be difficult enough if they were all packed in a field. (The problem is actually worse. With Bose statistics, which apply to photons, the sheep are all in the same place, or what is the same thing, there is no space.) So the man has to arrange a gate through which the sheep can pass one at a time. This means he has to "invent" time so that he can distinguish between the ones counted and the ones not counted. He also has to "invent" space, to separate the counted sheep from one another. Ultimately they can be melded back into the original unity.

This pull into manifestation which must create time and space is an aspect of God that is in apparent contrast with the idea of God as that which yokes all together. The principle is represented in Egypt in Set, who plots to entrap Osiris in the golden casket: and in Christianity in the devil, who tempts man to disobey and hence to act on his own. In the Hindu tradition the downward pull is ignorance, the trap of illusion.

Or if we go back to the metaphor of the man who wants to count his million sheep, we can revise the image and say that the man is the sheep and the gate he provides is self-alienation, the device which makes possible self-consciousness--location in time and space.

But we cannot so localize God. As many have said, from Trismegistus onward, "God is that whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. (Borges traces a history of this idea in his essay, Pascal's Sphere.) This is represented in the geometrical figure that we used in the Reflexive Universe (Appendix II) to describe the sevenfold reality.

When we place equilateral triangles around a point or vertex we find that three triangles produce a tetrahedron, four produce what we call the pentaverton, five produce the hexaverton and six produce the heptaverton, which, because six equilateral triangles fill the circle of 360 degrees, must be represented as a flat plane.

We can go no further. The tetrahedron, the pentaverton, and the hexaverton (the latter two having some resemblance to the octahedron and the icosahedron) are solid figures, bounded in space. The flat plane has no boundary. And because the surface is flat, we would be unable to say which was inside and which was outside.

A unit of six triangles or seven points can, however, be thought of as a hexagon and the endless plane a honeycomb of hexagons:

. . . and so on forever. Each of the seven hexagons that make up a unit has a different color (or number); it is surrounded by six hexagons which have the same colors but in a different order, so that matching hexagon with colors in the same order as the central one and therefore equa1 to it is separated from the central one. But it is the same as the central one. Thus whatever hexagon we regard as central is everywhere. Yet there is no boundary. God is that whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

One might think this a sacrilege -- to reduce God to a geometrical, actually a topological image. But let us consider what is implied.

Returning to the question, "What is God?", we can say that God is everything, but then to account for the pull into manifestation (which creates the universe) we have to divide God, beginning with a duality--good and evil, or what is perhaps better, Being and Becoming (as mentioned in Plato's Timaeus).

We can note parallel confirmations of this from science in its finding that while matter is created from light, there is the simultaneous creation of antimatter--a duality. We also have in biology the finding that the seed or germ is obtained by halving the number of chromosomes, and it is only when the sperm and egg, each with half the chromosomes, are united in fertilization, that the egg can begin to divide and become a new organism.

In every case we find it necessary to divide the original (and ultimate) unity if only, like the man with his sheep, to see how it goes together. The creative principle must divide in order to manifest.

Another way of dividing the whole is to recognize that the seven "colors" which create and distinguish the stages of process (or the hexagons in the geometrical construction) are seven powers of God.

I believe this was at the root of the pantheism of the Greeks. 0f course the Greeks had other gods, but the theogeny described in the Greek myth of Chronos:

Uranus, son of Gaia

Chronos, son of Gaia and Uranus

Zeus, son of Chronos (and Rhea)

Mars, son of Zeus


forms a sequence whose order and functioning is in precise correspondence with the powers of the stages of process, provided only that we add Cupid, father of the gods and most powerful, as the god preceding Gaia.

1998 Anodos Foundation


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