I loved acting when I was in elementary school. I was always in the plays at our church, but I played the roles of young characters in local high school and college plays too. I loved every second of it and thought that maybe one day I would move to New York and become a star on Broadway.
This is an excerpt from my book All the Best Questions. You can buy it on Amazon.
When I was going into the fifth grade, I had an opportunity that I thought might give me the big break I needed to become a huge star. I had auditioned for an acting camp that happened outside New York City. The final day of camp was a performance in New York City in front of a bunch of agents and managers. After a lot of talking about how we could afford it, my parents gave me the news that I was able to go. That wasn’t even the best part. After camp, we would spend a couple weeks going to auditions in New York City!
It was as if my brain had been given a shot of pure imagination. I instantly saw my future landing major roles in Broadway musicals that would, of course, put me in the perfect position to begin a long and lucrative career in movies. Every time I calmed myself down, I would ramp up on another subject, such as what it would be like to live at the top of one of those New York skyscrapers or if I would be able to keep myself together when I performed for the first time on the Today show.
I could tell my brother wasn’t sharing my excitement, so I picked up the phone and called one of my best friends who had already decided that she would move to New York with me after high school and become a professional dancer. I assured her that I would use my extensive contacts to help her get a job, and I’d let her stay with me for free because I would most certainly be a millionaire by that time.
I think a similar shot of pure imagination is at play when people think about everything God created. We barely understand our own planet, which represents a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of everything God made. All of that unknown begs us to dream. It calls to us to seek to understand. We spend most of our time thinking about our faith in terms of what has happened here on earth, but how does our understanding of everything else interact with our faith?
Before we go much further, it’s probably helpful to bring you up to speed on the whole multiple-universes idea. As scientists seek to explain how our universe began a little over 13 billion years ago, they have begun to consider a major idea: What if there were multiple universes?
The idea put forth by Stephen Hawking and others is that entire universes are constantly being born and dying, with many lasting only fractions of a second. The idea is that each universe begins with a new set of laws and ideas that govern it (like our law of gravity). Since the majority of combinations of laws will not support a viable universe, most of them collapse. But every once in a while, the conditions are perfect, and a sustainable universe is created that grows and develops, like our own. It’s a pretty incredible idea.
But where does God fit into that? For those answers we have to explore the creation story in the Bible. The problem, though, is that the creation story in the book of Genesis was written by and to a people who had no idea of quantum physics or the theory of relativity. They didn’t know what we know about our universe. They didn’t even know that the earth orbits around the sun!
If they didn’t have even the most basic scientific understanding, how do we use information written by and to them to respond to modern science? The key is trying to enter into their mindset to understand at the most basic level what the Bible was saying to them. Then we can figure out what that might mean in the modern day.
The very beginning of the Bible gives us the most insight: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).
Imagine you are living long before humans knew that the earth was round. You are sitting next to a fire listening to a priest tell this story. You look up at the thousands of stars in the sky and then are told that the two biggest things you can see, the land and the sky, were created by God. What would that mean to you? I think it would say to you that everything was created by God because everything you have ever known was either in the sky or on the land. Every camel, every bird, every tree, and every cloud—it all existed either in land or sky. Okay, or the sea, but later in the story God creates that too.
Now, as we fast-forward several thousand years into the modern day and try to translate the deepest truth of the creation story into a world that is as familiar with the electron as with the donkey, the task is pretty simple. That basic truth makes a lot of sense even today: God created everything. God created all the atoms and planets and solar systems and galaxies, and, if it turns out to be true that there are multiple universes, all the universes too! When we read the book of Genesis we have to say that if there are other universes, God must have created them too.
If there are other universes that God created, that could lead to some significant questions about God and how God relates with us. For example, did Jesus die just for humans or for all beings everywhere? What if the beings in another universe never chose to sin like we did?
The more you think about it, the more questions you can create. It’s like another one of those shots of pure imagination. To have a full answer to all of the questions, we usually need information we don’t have because we haven’t experienced other worlds or universes. However, the questions all seem to ask whether God relates the same with all creations or if God relates differently from one to the other.
For that, we can offer an answer. Though the relationship may be different based on the specifics of the creation, if all of these universes were created by God, then they would all be cared for by God as creator. Or, in the words of my mom, “God may love us in different ways, but the same amount.”
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