I Know … I’m Sorry

The other day, a relative posted their testimony of the LDS gospel to social media, and they used the words, “I know.” I got a bit triggered by this statement because in recent years, those words have come to mean an expression of extreme arrogance. What sounds good and beautiful to the speaker sounds like, “I know I’m right, and you’re wrong,” to me. It sounds like, “no matter what you think you’ve learned, experienced, or discovered in your life, you’re on the wrong path because I know the truth.” It sounds like an impenetrable wall being built up. It sounds like the worst kind of arrogance.

At the same time, I’m going through some difficult times with my wife and our divorce proceedings. I’ve been reading some of the emails we exchanged in the early days of our marriage. In one of the first, I bear my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I wrote, 

“I have a strong testimony of the church and of my savior Jesus Christ. I know the church is true. … I am determined to [stay on] the path that leads to my Heavenly Father. I have felt His love strongly in my life and I know that … His love is unconditional … . I have faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that He suffered and died so that I can repent and find happiness … .”

I used the same absolute terms as my dear relative. Was I being arrogant? If not, then what is the difference? Why does one feel like arrogance and the other not? I thought about this for a while, and decided to go back to my journals to find more instances of the same. I found the first evidence that I believed the LDS gospel in 1990. As a 12 year old, I wrote, “[The bishop] asked if I believed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I happily responded, ‘I do.’ The best thing about that is, I could honestly say it.”

In the following years, those instances of private testimony multiply greatly. By the time I turned 16, I was absolutely certain that the church was true. Every other page of journal writing talks about spiritual experiences, reading the scriptures, and prayer. I wanted nothing more than to please my Heavenly Father and to return to Him one day. At the age of 17, I wrote the following:

“I went out in the rain and sang into the darkness. I feel the Spirit most readily through music, so often I’ll sing my prayers if I feel no one is within listening distance. This night, I stopped singing, being overcome with the Spirit. I felt His presence so strongly around me like a warm embrace. I made a promise at that time to my Heavenly Father that no matter how difficult things got, I would return to him in the Celestial Kingdom. I promised never to give up. If I fell, I would get up again.”

That promise defined me for the next two decades and is still with me in my thought processes, and my journals attest to that fact. At the same time though, my depression never let up. As a missionary in Hungary, I wrote, 

“I was feeling so depressed.  Sitting on my bed, close to tears, I cried out in my heart, ‘Father, hold me.’ The Spirit was instantly all around me as though he were giving me a hug, and I believe, in a way, that’s what it was.  I know He loves me in spite of me. The tears are still flowing though. Despite my prayers, I’m still me. I’m wishing right now that I had never been. I wish I could just cease to exist, both body and spirit.  God Help me!”

Several months later, I also write,

“Help!!! Sinking, ever sinking, the lights are growing dim.  I almost welcome the enclosing darkness, being nearly smothered in a familiar blanket of depression.  As I’m about to be swallowed up, voices call out and give me further desire to struggle and not surrender to the powers of hell.  O great, merciful God! Hear my voice from the great abyss!”

I have no written record of it, but I remember a particularly bad depression when I was 15 years old. I was seriously contemplating suicide and went to my Heavenly Father in prayer. I believed the church and gospel were true, but I was still not absolutely certain, and I needed an answer. If the church was true, I would keep on living because suicide wouldn’t free me from anything. If the church wasn’t true, then I … I don’t know what I would have done. I remember I didn’t want to think about it. I wish I had written more about this time of my life.

One week before my 16th birthday, I made a list of goals to accomplish. Among them is to “Find out for myself whether or not the church is true.” In one week, I finished reading the latter half of the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon to its conclusion. Each day of that week I recorded my progress through these books. 

On my actual birthday, there was a situation with my dad where my birthday gifts were somehow locked in the trunk of the car, and he couldn’t get them out. He wanted me to help him figure out how to open the trunk. I had no clue, and I didn’t really care either. I had other things on my mind. I overheard someone asking my Dad why I seemed unhappy, and my Dad told them that I was disappointed that I might not get my birthday gifts. “If only my problems were that simple,” I wrote. I didn’t care at all for presents. I had more important matters on my mind… Like, would God answer my prayer about the church? I felt that if I could just finish the Book of Mormon that day, there might be some chance to turn my life around. All I actually write though is, “I read in the Book of Mormon until I finished it for the first time in my life.  And minutes after I finished came the call for supper. We had hot dogs.”

Despite not writing it, I remember feeling good about my accomplishment, and I took that good feeling to mean that the book was true. From there on, there was no looking back. I would accept that the church was true, and I would live on. Even though I often felt depressed, I put suicide out of my mind. It wasn’t a viable option anymore. I would just have to endure the pain and live on, though I often cried out to God to please just end my existence altogether.

I wasn’t happy, but I knew the church was true. It had to be. The alternatives just seemed too terrible to imagine. Although part of me wanted to die, another part of me was deeply afraid. I needed the church to be true, and I could not afford to doubt. For the next 20 years, I continued to pray regularly. I had countless spiritual experiences that confirmed my knowledge that the church was true. I was incapable of doubt. … 

And when I said, “I know the church is true,” it wasn’t arrogance; it was survival. 

And so, when I thought again about my relative’s declaration of sure knowledge, I decided that there may be other reasons besides sheer arrogance. I still don’t like certainty of any sort, and especially in religion, but I can see how it may feel necessary at a personal level. And though a person may believe that they are being open-minded, I think there are layers of consciousness or subconsciousness that may disallow doubt in order to preserve well-being. 

I guess I should get to the point now or risk rambling on and on without end. I forgive my family and friends for their certainty. I forgive them for seeming arrogant and closed-minded. I’m sorry for being arrogant myself when I’ve looked down on those expressing certainty in their positions. I’m sorry for thinking I was right and they were wrong. Sometimes, it’s not about right and wrong. These things can go deeper.

“I have a testimony that will never be shaken. I know who I follow. I know my master. As I try and live the way He would want me to, I come to know Him. God isn’t some distant force in the universe somewhere, but He’s my Father, my Heavenly Father, who stands here beside me, teaching me and leading me, holding my hand and He is showing me the way. I love Him.” – November 11, 1997

Innerverse

The other day, my sister reminded me of a conversation I’d had with her a year or so ago about the universe and its “voice”. I wasn’t sure what I believed about God, but because of many experiences, I still felt relatively confident that there must be a higher consciousness of sorts. Maybe the universe itself was conscious. Maybe the universe had desires and goals and could influence us somehow.

I remember trying to talk to the universe like I used to talk to God, but it didn’t really work for me. Perhaps the universe is just too big. Despite being a part of the universe myself, it seems too difficult to feel a closeness to something so unimaginably large and so endlessly mysterious. What could I possibly understand about something so ridiculously complex? The universe is everything that exists… I moved on from the idea that I could have a relationship with the universe as a conscious entity.

Maybe there are other conscious entities in the universe that are far greater than us puny humans. They could be smaller than the universe as a whole but still immense. In fact, considering the seeming endless size of the universe, it is difficult for me to imagine that there aren’t greater conscious beings out there than us. This thought is kind of cool, … but also rather useless as I don’t see any way to find out one way or the other. Unless such a being were to come and interact with us in some way, it’s just a fun idea to play around with for a while with no real application.

I used to spend a lot of time thinking about reality and how we perceive it. Everything we sense is received, altered, and often shared with our consciousness by our brains. We don’t see things the way they really are. We can’t. I believe that what I sense is a fair representation of what’s outside, but I can’t know for sure. Nothing outside myself is certain. So while the universe=God idea is kind of cool, it will remain out there with all the rest of the uncertain and unprovable ideas.

Here inside though is where everything exciting really happens. I don’t know what anything looks like outside my own mind, if anything can look like anything without a conscious mind to perceive it, but what I experience here within is real to me. I can’t prove my inner experiences to anyone on the outside, but I can’t deny them to myself. I see what I see. I hear what I hear. And so on for all of my senses.

As I thought about my sister’s reminder the other day about the voice of the universe, I tried to think about the new way I’m thinking about those feelings. They don’t seem to happen out there at all. Instead, they happen in here.. In my mind. The “voices” I hear may just be the voices of my subconscious or some other part of my mind that I don’t understand yet. The point is that everything that happens, happens in here, in a space I’ve decided to call my “innerverse”.

To me, innerverse means everything that happens in the mind, whether conscious, subconscious, or even unconscious, whatever that might mean. All sensations and feelings are included in this space. If I see something beautiful, have a dream, or take a breath, I’m experiencing them in my innerverse. When I look out at the stars and try to understand the universe, my thoughts, feelings, and all that I see are part of my innerverse.

When I pray or meditate, I’m trying to access various parts of my innerverse that tend to be less accessible than other parts. Ideas that seem inspired often rise up out of my subconscious, or from some unnamed division of my mind. I sometimes wonder if there are regions of my mind that have thoughts or feelings of their own that my conscious mind isn’t aware of. Maybe this is why people can feel conflicted about their desires or emotions sometimes.

Anyway, I don’t know the truth behind everything I experience in my mind, but at least my innerverse seems more accessible than the universe. I can even give names to various ideas as I test them out, Durand being an example of this that I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. Who knows if I’ll keep him for the long term or if that idea will evolve into something new. For now though, Durand is the greatest part of my innerverse.

The Lighted Path

For over a month now, I have been going through old documents, letters, journals, etc. and putting everything into a searchable digital format. I don’t have any software that can reliably convert Hungarian handwriting to text, so I’ve been typing each of the many letters I have received from my friends in Hungary word by word. From early 1997 through mid-1999, I was a missionary in Hungary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church). At the time, I was a firm believer in the teachings of the church and literally had no doubts. Many of the letters I am typing so carefully into my computer express the importance my unwavering hope, love, and faith had on their lives. I’ve been brought to tears more than once as I type these letters.

These members and investigators of the LDS or Mormon faith were and are good people, and I love them with all my heart. I would do anything for them and their happiness. I am glad my faith was so strong at that period of my life. If I could go back in time, I would not change a thing. I was exactly the person I needed to be for those people. I could not be as effective today as I was then at touching the lives of these individuals. The love and hope is the same, but the faith has changed.

Still, I have no sadness or regret about where I am today. If I were a missionary again, I could not proclaim the same absolute certainty about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. I would not worry so much about whether people wanted to join the church or not. I wouldn’t be so saddened by individuals that felt they needed to leave the church for their myriad reasons. But still, I would love them. I would want them to find the path that was best for them and their future successes and happiness.

I think certainty in a belief has much more power to change lives for good or evil than the uncertainties I can offer today. And I believe that sometimes, certainty, even if that certainty is placed in something that is not strictly true, can lead people onto the most beautiful paths and toward the greatest possibilities for happiness. Here is my dilemma. Should I try and encourage greater certainty in those most positive life-altering beliefs? Or should I continue to encourage the growth of uncertainty in the world? I believe both have their place and purpose in this world, both certainty and uncertainty. How can I encourage greater faith in some while striving to raise uncertainty in others?

In my current belief system, this is most likely what that highest consciousness, or God, is doing. The God I would support works with many belief systems, systems of unbelief, certainties, and uncertainties for the betterment of humanity as a whole and also for the happiness and growth of the individual. That voice that speaks to our hearts and whispers to our minds would encourage us to believe in and to follow those paths that will fulfill that purpose. It will tell one person to believe in some religious system and to follow it faithfully, and it will tell another that it is time to leave. For you, maybe believing the Mormon church is true is essential for your current and future happiness, and for the positive effect you may have on others as a result of that belief. For someone else, maybe believing in some other religion or philosophy would be more beneficial for that individual and those around them.

As for me, I am where I am, and I wish I could speak only to those that need what I have to offer. My words may hurt some, but help others. How can I find the way to speak only to those that need to hear my message? I love you! I want what’s best for you. I want what’s best for this world, now and in the future. I have no desire to weaken or destroy the positive growth-inducing beliefs that many of you have. And yet, I am driven to write and to share my ideas with the world.

All I can hope is that you will listen to that voice that speaks to your heart. Follow it as it leads you to that happiness that is meant for you. Where that voice speaks peace and love to your soul, have confidence that the path it recommends is the one that will best change the darkness in your life for light. That is the path that will best enable you to bring light into a world that often seems far too full of darkness. I may preach uncertainty at times, and will continue to do so, but my most sincere hope is that you will find your lighted path and trod thereon in happiness and joy. I am on my path now. Have you found yours?

Conduit for the Love of God

In the summer of 1997, I was a young missionary struggling to learn Hungarian and to teach people about my religious faith in downtown Budapest. While I served there together with a more experienced missionary, I often had occasion to walk past a certain area where some road construction was going on. I remember that the area smelled bad and that the workers, who seemed to spend a lot more time just lounging about than actually working, had a rather unsavory look to them. Often shirtless, very dark from excessive sun exposure, dirty everywhere, worn-out clothes, the strong smell of urine, alcohol, and cigarette smoke mixed together, these guys did not seem like the sort that would be interested in our message, and we usually tried to pass by quickly.

It was my natural tendency though to smile whenever my path crossed anyone else’s, and this tendency often drew attention in a country like Hungary where smiling at strangers is certainly not part of the local culture. I smiled at the workers, and some of them smiled back. As the woman we were visiting was quite interested in our message, and us, we returned to that place many times. On one occasion, as we hurried to our destination, we were stopped by one of these construction workers. His yellow teeth were the only warning of the pungent smell that would soon assault our senses.

This particular worker was probably not as old as he looked, but at the time, I would have guessed him to be as old as I am now – in his mid-thirties. If I had to bet money now though, I would say he was probably only in his mid to late twenties. All of the alcohol, smoking, drugs, staying out in the sun all day, and all of the other bad habits he may have had, had had a negative effect on his appearance. I think I’ll just leave it to your imagination rather than explain anymore, especially since my memory may be filling in details differently than the truth. Suffice it to say, he had an intimidating appearance, and I felt a slight urge to vomit.

Regardless of my initial impression, I smiled at him the same way I smile at everyone. From there, I can’t remember too much about how things transpired. I remember that we started chatting there on the side of the road, but that my companion got cornered by a different worker. We were still near one another, but effectively separated. At this point, it’s important to understand that I had only been in Hungary for a few months and my ability to speak or understand the language was quite limited, but that didn’t stop me from trying to have a conversation.

I remember the construction worker telling me about his life. I don’t know how we got there or why, but he went on and on about his personal story for some time. I only understood a little and guessed the rest. What I remember is that this worker seemed to be making some effort to intimidate me by sharing all of his past transgressions. Or maybe he thought that since I was a missionary, he could confess his sins to me as if I were a priest in another church. I don’t know what was in his mind, but his story was quite terrible.

He told me about the fights he had been in. He told me about the drugs. He told me about the man he had killed. He told me about the women he had raped. Maybe I just heard wrong. Maybe I misunderstood. But at the time, I believed he had done all of these things. Maybe I should have been afraid for my own safety and that of my companion, who was somewhere nearby but not part of my memory of this experience.

I remember praying in my heart for guidance in this case. What should I do? Can a man like this change? Should I teach him that killing people, raping people, doing drugs and so forth is wrong? Should I try to escape and then contact the police? What was right? At that moment, I had an impression come to my mind that I should tell this man that God loved him. I felt energy fill my body and I spoke with confidence, “God loves you.” As I spoke the words, I knew they were true. I knew it because I personally felt the love that God had for this stranger, and that love was immeasurably stronger than any love I had ever felt in my life.

I repeated the words more than once, and that feeling stayed with me. I believe that the construction worker felt something as well as his whole visage toward me changed. I don’t remember much else. My companion and I had an appointment to keep and so we continued on our way. This experience has meant a lot to me in the intervening 18 years. I can never forget it. Even when I have my doubts about religion, especially organized religion, and whether or not God even exists, I never forget that love that I felt for that stranger on that day.

When I remember that man, I remember that love. When I remember that love, I am able to feel and reapply that love to others that I meet in my life. Despite the doubts that arise from time to time, I strongly believe in the love that I felt at that time and that I am still able to feel from time to time. That love has the power to connect people together and to unite them as one. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase God is love. Well, I believe it.

If I Were God, I Would …

If I were God, I would not end wars on Earth. I would not end suffering. I would not end pain. I would not end hunger. I would not stop anyone from dying whose time had come, not even the deaths of small children. I would let every terrible thing happen again and again to people everywhere, no matter what kind of person they were. If I were God, I would hide my face and allow the world to spin on and on as if I weren’t there. I would be there, but nobody could prove it.

If I were God, time would be no constraint and I would make full use of it. I think I would like to be a tree. A portion of my consciousness would enter the seed of a tree. I would experience what it would be like to grow from a seed into a tiny sapling and from there on upwards until I reached high into the sky. I would forget that I was God. I would just be the tree. I imagine time would go quite quickly as I don’t see that trees have much capacity for conscious experience, but I would want to experience all that there was to experience. Eventually, I would want to be the tree as it dies. What do you suppose that would feel like? I’m so curious.

If I were God, I would certainly want to be a rock for a while. Would that feel different from being a tree? I could place a portion of my consciousness within the rock as it forms deep within the Earth. Eventually, over the course of many millions of years, I would come to the surface for a while. How long would it be until nature brought me back deep into the Earth to be unmade? Does that seem like it would take a long time? It would only be a short moment. Experience of time depends on perception, and without conscious perception, I can’t see time existing. If I were God, I could be every rock in the universe and never get bored.

If I were God, I would like to experience what it would be like to swim in the ocean as a fish. My consciousness would enter the egg and I would live as the fish from the beginning until the end of its life. I wouldn’t want to miss anything. I wonder what it would feel like to be swallowed by a larger fish. Perhaps I should be the larger fish as well. In each of these experiences, I would not remember that I was God. I would allow my consciousness to flow through and experience whatever capacity the life-form has for consciousness.

I would be everything, one at a time, and all at once since time is nothing. Eventually, I would be born as a human. I wouldn’t remember that I was God. I would experience everything through the eyes of an infant, a toddler, and a small child. I would grow up and learn from my parents and culture. I would not be perfect. I would want to experience what it is like to live with an imperfect brain that leads me this way and that.

When I died as that human, I would want to be born again as someone else. I definitely wouldn’t want to remember my previous lives each time as that would take much from the potential enjoyment. From time to time though, as I lived each life, I might like to remember a previous life. What would that be like? They wouldn’t really be previous lives though as I would divide up my consciousness and allow it to flow in many directions at once. I would be the mother and her child both. I would be the saint and the sinner. I would be the king and the pauper. I don’t want to miss out on anything. I think I would just be everyone and everything. I could indeed create a boulder that I could not lift.

I am greedy though, and so this Earth would not be enough. I would create alternate dimensions and other realities, each one differing in only the smallest details. I would personally experience everything in the universe from the smallest particles to the universe as a whole. What would it feel like to BE the universe? If I were God, I would find out. I would fill the universe with my consciousness in every possible way. I would flow like pure energy into every space. No place would be too large or too small.

Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t consider myself to be God, though I suppose it’s possible, but the god I have described is the god I hope exists. I don’t want a god that lives in some isolated place far far away. I don’t want a god that can’t or chooses not to do anything for himself. I want my god to be here with me and in me and all around me. My god is the great consciousness of the universe itself.

 

Inspired Contrasts – Responding to My Responders

My experience with the last several blogs (Especially about Letting Go, Church Status, the Holy Spirit, and Christopher Columbus) has been interesting as I read the comments and chatted with various individuals on Facebook and also received emails. There are so many different kinds of people that I’ve interacted with recently, and I have really enjoyed this learning experience. I think that most of my readers were just curious. Others however, probably felt threatened by the prospect of a potential attack on their deeply held beliefs. Still others saw an opportunity to peer more into my mind and to perhaps find some way to pull me back into the fold .. not that I’d left.

Sometimes I am reminded of the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. Is that what I am? I participate in the church and claim to have most of the same beliefs, and yet I am different. And different is bad, right? It seems there are many that think this is the case, and I have been a little disappointed by those reactions. In the majority of cases though, especially in my local congregation, I am in no way made to feel that I am an outsider. My beliefs may be different from the common member, but I am regularly given the opportunity to express my feelings on different topics, and we discover that in most cases, we agree.

On this blog, I have no intention of doing what so many seemed to fear I would do – though some others had hoped. I have great respect for the beliefs of others and my intent is to bring people together and not to drive us apart. This is not going to become another anti-any-religion site. There are enough of those already. My friends are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, and more. I may be wrong, but I happen to believe in a higher consciousness that may have encouraged the formation of these various religions.

If this greater intelligence didn’t encourage their formation, I think it is at least trying to influence their direction to some degree, though not always with obvious success. I think people are free to choose their course, and some of us have made some really bad choices. Sometimes, people who have made such poor decisions have claimed authority from God and left others with a bad taste in their mouth for organized religion, God, and all those that speak of God. I think this is unfortunate.

In my life now, I am interested in learning more about the various belief systems that have developed over time. I am interested in trying to discover the common patterns across religions and philosophies. I suspect that if there is a higher intelligence, it is to be found in the similarities that we share, more than in the differences. At the same time though, I strongly believe that differences are also a part of the final tapestry. Contrasts matter. One group has one idea. Another group has another. Because of the contrasts, the world changes and moves forward. Where everything is the same, things tend to stagnate. It makes sense to me that a higher intelligence would encourage and make use of contrasting ideas to move the world in the direction it desires. I would not even be surprised if even atheism is an inspired idea, but don’t tell the atheists I said that!

Anyway, I hope that I will continue to have opportunities to communicate with people wherever they are about their beliefs relating to God, the universe, reality, or anything that I’ve talked about on this site. Let us exchange ideas and learn together. Do you have ideas that are similar to mine? Tell me what made you think that way. Do you think differently from me? What do you think about those topics? How did you come across those beliefs and what made you want to choose them? Am I the only one that thinks the way I do? Or where are my magentas? Send me a message. I’m happy to share anything I have learned, but mostly, I want to learn more!

Backwards Causation and God

I have always been a fan of science. I love to learn the processes by which things work. And, as a believer in God, I like to feel that I am a little bit closer to understanding how God does what He does . As a teenager, it often confused me that prayers could sometimes be answered in a material way within moments after the prayer was uttered. For example, as a boy, I once cried out to God in my heart for a friend. The story is complicated, but the result is that my prayer as a youth was answered . It was answered in such a way that I had little doubt that it was God’s doing. Perhaps I’ll share that story in a future blog . What I was confused about, however, is that the miraculous series of events that became the answer to my prayer began occurring many years before I even uttered that prayer. That and other experiences left me with several questions .

My first question was: Would everything have still happened in the same way if I had never said that prayer ? Over the course of my life, my answers to all of these questions have changed . At that time however , I wasn ’ t too sure of anything . Most scientists and logicians would probably have said “yes” to my first question and then be done with it . My whole experience would have been nothing more than a series of coincidences , and my prayer would have had no effect . As my faith in God increased however , my answer to the first question became a stronger “ no ”. I came to believe that my reality was really changed by God answering my prayers .

My next question was : Did God know me so well that he knew what my prayer would be and so set up events to work out just right at the time I prayed ? This is what I believed for a long time . I still do believe that God knows me that well , but I more strongly doubt now that God sets everything up in advance . If that were true , He could set everything up and then take a vacation for the rest of forever . The God I believe in is there now , and listens to my prayers . The reason for this belief is in part due to my thoughts on my third question : If God did know me that well , would it even have been possible for me to have changed my mind .. to not have said the prayer ? And then what of free agency ?

The thing is , I believe in free agency . I believe in free agency more than I believe in the things I see with my own eyes . Because of that belief , I have a hard time believing that God would act on a choice I haven ’ t made yet . Of course , just knowing what I am going to choose doesn ’ t in itself take away my free agency , but I find it more reasonable to believe that as the only gift I have received from God that is really mine ( I own nothing else so completely ), He will respect my right to choose and hold off action until I have made my choice . I could be wrong here , but I don ’ t think I am .

This brings me to my fourth question : If God waited for me to say my prayer before acting , did He then go back in time to set things on their path ? As a result of my previous questions , I was forced to start considering the possibility of time travel . For several years , I read book after book about topics related to time travel . I studied light , quantum physics , philosophy , etc . If God did it , then it had to be possible , right ? As I studied however , I became less and less sure . It seemed more likely that God had some other method that was less troublesome than time travel .

My last question was : Is God outside of time altogether , on another plane of existence , such that my present and my past are the same for Him ? For most of the past decade , I believed that this last question was the most likely to be accurate . Time travel was not really something that could be considered . It just wouldn ’ t work for anything or anyone that was part of the time line : too many paradoxes . And so , until just a couple of years ago , this is where my search for God ’ s methods in answering prayers ended .

In the Fall of 2008 , I took a neuroscience class concurrently with a philosophy of mind class that focused on consciousness . Although neither of these classes had anything to do with my own quest directly , they stimulated my thought processes and I returned to the old questions . Somewhere in my readings , I learned that the basic laws of physics operate the same whether moving forward or backward through time . It is hard to think of a good example to illustrate this idea because our minds only comprehend events in one direction . First comes the cause , followed by the effect … but it could just as easily be the other way . I ’ ll try to edit this post later with links to articles that explain this principle . Basically though , everything that can be explained by physics can be explained no matter which way time is moving , forwards or backwards . Scientists like to include the human mind in this , but I suspect that there are some important aspects of our mind – brain connection that will never be explained by physics , namely free agency .

If this is how the universe really works , then what would happen if God , who I still believe dwells on a higher plane , unaffected by our time stream , caused some event to occur ? Remember the scriptures in the Bible where God created the Earth ? For most scientists , the formation of the Earth from the beginning until its current state took billions of years . In the Bible , it took only six days , though many believe these were six periods of creation rather than literal days . So which idea is correct ?

In my view , both could be equally correct . God caused the event to occur at some moment in time . As a result of that event , effects rippled outward , both forwards and backwards through time . Because God created the Earth , everything that was needed for the Earth to form also came together in the time preceding the Earth ’ s creation . This makes so much sense in my mind but is so hard to explain . I ’ ll keep trying though .

God could have literally spent only six of our days creating the Earth . I don ’ t know how long He actually spent . With backwards causation however , the effects of that relatively quick act of creation could have been felt for billions of years in the past . God called for the creation of the Earth , and the whole Universe complied . The Universe aligned itself with God ’ s design . When we make choices , the causes are usually only followed by their effects , but when God makes a choice , the effects both precede and follow their cause .

When I first developed this idea , I was pretty excited . I did some research and discovered that I was not the first person to come up with this idea . The concept is known by several different names in the literature , including backwards causation , backwards causality , reverse causation , reverse causality , retro – causality , retro – causation , retro – chronal causation , and so on . I can ’ t remember what I called it at first . Now , I usually say backwards causation because it seems a bit more common than the other terms . The concept is not generally accepted by the scientific community for the same reasons as time travel is not accepted . Given that I am talking about a Being outside of our time stream however , the objections I have found would not apply , but I will try to post links to the counter arguments at a later time .

What I currently believe to be most likely is that God answers prayers at the time they are submitted . Time isn ’ t really an issue for God in answering the prayers as He stands outside of our time . Any answer he gives us will cause a ripple effect , forwards and backwards through time , though God certainly has the power to control the extent of this ripple effect . He can cause a mountain to form over millions of years, or He can cause milk to change to wine over the course of a few seconds. The actual time God spends on both of these actions may be the same . This idea makes miracles by God possible while still being consistent with discoveries made by science. I’ll try to come up with some illustrations of this idea in future blogs.