GPS: G-d’s Positioning System
by Jill Becker, MD., MA.
None of us hears the name G-d without having an image or a feeling evoked.
According to my religious background, G-d is like an elderly white man in a long white robe, with a long white beard, and with long, flowing, white hair. This man sits in a great, wooden chair which floats in the heavens. In his hand he holds a staff as he passes judgment on each and every one of us. According to my religion, if I don’t repent for all of my wrong doings, G-d will not “inscribe me in The Book of Life” and, at the end of the year, I will die. For many reasons, this concept of G-d has always troubled me. As a child I wondered why G-d would strike me dead for cheating at Monopoly? Or for putting the letter o between the letters G and d (as in G-d)? As I grew older, I learned of religious persecution and other atrocities committed in the name of G-d. And, I became further confused.
Ultimately, I came to realize that although I loved the traditions with which I grew up, the organization that was ostensibly behind them had become less and less important to me (much to my mother’s chagrin). For a time, I must admit, I didn’t really believe in anything. My ex-husband and much of his family are atheists. Given the lack of overt scientific evidence, that appealed to the scientist in me. When my own daughter began to ask me about G-d, I was very comfortable telling her that people have different beliefs and that I believed G-d to be science and nature – that seemed to give her the tools she needed to relate to her friends who were raised with religion as well as those who were not. It also honored my own beliefs.
Now, I seem to be settling into a new belief system. I can’t really call it religious because of all that that connotes. I can’t really call it scientific because of all that that leaves out. And, so, I have given in to the theme that has become a current catch word – spirituality. What I’m just beginning to understand and to believe in is a Universal Intelligence – some kind of an overall meaning for things and a way that all things, animate and inanimate, are interrelated.
My first date as a newly separated woman was with a Quantum Physicist. After three hours of physics talk, he told me that he had never been on a date with a woman who was so enthralled by his knowledge; Quantum Physics is beginning to explain Universal Intelligence in scientific terms. And, broad-minded theologians are finding the science in G-d. It all seems to be pointing to the same place – that everything is energy, that everything is interrelated and that everything effects everything else.
That brings me to the reason for, and the conclusion of, this essay: Fate versus Free Will.
Today I was listening to Carla (my daughter and I call the female voiced GPS in my car Carla, get it? Car-La) as she was directing me to my ex-husband’s apartment where I was to pick up our daughter. Carla was sending me the shortest distance but, because of traffic lights, the longest route. I decided to go another way. Carla, without missing a beat, simply recalculated and, without a note of judgment in her “voice,” directed me along the new route. This got me thinking about G-d, fate and the role of free will in our lives. I started thinking of all kinds of analogies, the branch of a tree, the queue for a printer, and the GPS (Global Positioning System) in the car. Finally, I came to this…
Fate is what the Universal Intelligence has “planned” for us. But, there is always room for our free will to adapt or change it; you get in your car, your GPS (perhaps she’s named Sheila or he’s named Tom) tells you which way to go. But, when you decide to use your free will to go in another direction, Sheila simply takes your decision into consideration and, without judgment, calculates another route to get you to your ultimate destination. Maybe Tom tells you to make a U turn, suggesting that you retrace your steps and revisit the same lesson.
Or, maybe, you decide to follow Carla’s directions, turn by turn, via the shortest route, and to the letter.