The Spirit of God

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the face of the waters.”

That’s my favorite quote from the Bible.

It doesn’t say exactly how He did it. But here we are in this very fine Garden of Eden, the only living thing within light years, in the midst of a universe of fire and ice. It is indeed miraculous. If a miracle is something that our little pea brains can’t understand, then we are surrounded by miracles and it would be better that we don’t forget it.

Whether or not we can feel the spirit of God moving among the miracles, and even though nobody understands everything, we do know some of the basic natural laws that keep this life alive. Werner von Braun, who I think was a physicist, said: “The universe is hostile only when you do not know its laws. For those who know and obey, the universe is friendly.”

So how do we get to know its laws? I expect he was thinking about the laws of physics, and I expect he was right. We would not get very far trying to pretend we can walk on clouds (even though it makes you want to try sometimes, looking down on them from an airplane) and we wouldn’t get very far without wheels and combustion and all of that kind of technology based in the reality of natural phenomena. And we won’t get very far pretending that life can exist in absence of what it needs to be alive. The word of man is not more powerful than the works of God that lie all around us and proclaim themselves for us to see and understand. And obey — or not. We have the freedom to choose — and as we continue to choose unwisely, the universe becomes more and more hostile.

We are even pretending that we don’t need what we do need for life to stay alive. Right now we need the ecosystem to stay alive. How can we not understand that the ecosystem is a living thing with all the needs of living things? I don’t know the answer to that question, but let’s talk about the needs of all living things. The natural laws of being alive. Boiled rigtht down to the bare bones, they are threefold, and they are the same for the tiniest cell as they are for you and me and for the whole great earth ecosystem that you can see from the moon. If you were foolish enough to go to the moon.

We need food because it requires work to stay alive, and there is a universal law of energy that says no work can happen without energy. We get energy to stay alive from our food. Food does not come from supermarkets or from the sun. It comes from plants, that is from our garden of eden. Once we have eaten the food — we can’t eat it again. Actually we could, but most of the available energy has already been used from the food by the time we defecate it, and energy does not recycle.

We need to recycle materials such as oxygen and carbon dioxide and nitrogen and carbon and all the elements that are part of life. That is another reason we eat. Also it’s why we breathe. And to direct all these activities, every kind of life needs to have the information available that tells it how to use the energy, by digestion and all that, and how to recycle the materials, for example by breathing, in order to stay alive.

All processes require information. We do the processes — we do everything that we do because of our genes. Our genetic code. We can be alive because our genetic code knows exactly when and where to make an enzyme to digest the meal we just ate, and exactly when and where to make a nerve cell or a pigment cell or a muscle cell, or exactly how to think.

These three things — energy from plants, the recycling of elements and compounds, and the genetic code to direct all the whole processes — these are required by every living thing, from the tiniest prokaryotic cell to the entire whole ecosystem itself.

How do we know this? Because without any one of them, life ceases. We do not know everything about anything, but we know that — if God created life — then that’s how he created it to be.