Not knowing where we come from

I was reading a little bit from the Confessions of Augustine today (I’ll be man enough to admin the old English translation I have access to was giving me a bout of ADD.)

Augustine wrote one phrase that led me down a rabbit trail of thought:

“I do not know where I came from.”

It resonated with me. I thought about it for a few minutes and realized… I dont know where I came from. One day I just became aware of my own existence, and I dont remember anything before. I cannot even remember the moment I understood or recognized my own self-awareness. How did it feel? I do not know and cannot recall. Did it come gradually or in one blinding light moment of clairvoyance? I cannot begin to comprehend where I came from.

I know the Sunday school answer is God made us, and I agree that He did, but I still dont “know” and cant explain where I came from, except to say ex nihilo (out of nothing.) But what is nothing, that I should come from it? My mind cant even conceive of “nothing” because we live in a world where “nothing” cannot literally exist. When you think of “nothing,” its usually just a space filled with air; that is “something.” Even the “nothing” of space vacuum (absence of matter) is “something”, it is empty physical space. It is a place where one can go. It is something compared to the nothing I came from.

Do you know where you came from?

If you woke up one morning with brand new car in your driveway, would you not wonder where it came from? Would you not invest a good amount of time into understanding where or why it was in its current location. Would tire tracks leading into your driveway be enough to satisfy your curiosity? Perhaps you would even carelessly claim it as your own and go about your daily business.

It has been said once that I was a little angel in heaven, and then God sent me down to the earth to test me if I will be good. I think the idea is preposterous and based only on the Platonic fairy tale of an eternal soul whose existence preceded the birth of time. We would not say the car existed for all eternity yet just now accidentally manifested itself in our driveway, neither can we say our souls are eternally preexistent.

The truth is man alone cannot answer that question. Where each one of us came from can only be answered with: “In the beginning God created…”

In the beginning, all that existed was God.

The second law of thermodynamics tells us that energy in our universe cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transfered from one state to another. If I make a sculpture today, I invest my energy into it, calories into biochemical energy, into muscle contractions, into motions that shape a stone. My energy went out to make it what it is.

God was/is/will be all powerful, infinite, omnipresent and in Him are all things and from Him come all things. Yet is seems proper to say that all we are and all we have is not merely out of nothing, but out of God. (Not meaning that we have some kind of inherent godness, that is blasphemy; meaning instead that the energy which caused our creation and runs our body/soul is literally Gods Own.) God is of course infinite, and infinity does not diminish with subtraction. Yet it would mean that every cell of our body is literally God’s and literally not ours.

And since all we have is God’s own, it is astounding that we go about directing “our” lives as if we can definitively explain and claim our existence and self-reliance.

It is pitiful to see men, crowned with Gods glory, fight to not succumb to His authority.

How great and devastating a rebellion against God is. For man and woman to listen to satan, and sin, thereby waging war on God, from whom they draw life, is vile and loathsome ungratefulness…. it is a rebellion of seemingly infinite wickedness and nefariousness.

“Is any man skillful enough to have fashioned himself? Or is there any other source from which being and life could flow into us, save this, that you, O Lord, have made us”

(Augustine, Confessions.)

Here are some related posts

Life after faith – how do atheists think about death? I recently spoke with a former spiritual mentor and inevitably the conversation wound its way past the trivial pleasantries to the deeper questions about our existence. After an hour of stimulating debate, he looked me squarely in the eyes and said “...
Life after faith – how do atheists ground morals? It was an otherwise unsuspicious church service. The youth pastor asked for all the teenage boys to follow him into a private meeting room. Once we were all situated, he asked in a hushed tone “did you know that guys who masturbate start growing hair...
Life after faith – How do atheists find meaning & purpose When I was in the 6th grade my friends and I were obsessed with collecting Pokemon cards and playing the latest video games. As you can tell, I was a nerd. I was also a fortunate nerd, because one of these friends loaned me his pirated copy of a wond...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *