“We have nothing, if not belief.”
— Sir Reepicheep, Chief Mouse of Narnia
“Do the arithmetic or be doomed to talk nonsense.”
— John McCarthy, A.I. trailblazer 
We are the uncut diamonds of God.
Thus I begin this third and final installment of my unintended series of observations arising from my daily prayers, which has been as much a journey of discovery for me as for anyone else, since it is surely true that however much you may believe in something, until you put it into words, it remains a benign knowing untouched by the light of discernment; a happy faith in things suggested or implied or impossible to avoid as other known truths come together, but otherwise unexcised, unexamined and unexplained even to oneself. And, so, as I have lit out on this new adventure, have set my sail upon the Great Digital Sea, these first three essays have turned out to be exercises in self-clarification as I have drilled, as best I could, to the bottom of my faith to share it with you. And, while this writing has turned out to be much more challenging than expected, the marvelous bonus has been the process, itself, as I have mined the golden veins of understanding wherever they have led in my determination to forge a solid chain of plausible beliefs from link to link and start to finish.
And, while there is still much, very much, that remains well outside my understanding, as far as I can see, it all has to begin with an acceptance that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, incompatible in the two ideas that 1) we are the beloved, known, embraced children of the personal Source of the Course of the Universe and are just exactly the family of material children He intended us to become when He conceived and put into motion the processes that made us, and 2) that the earth and everything on it has eventuated along a scientifically delineable path of growth and evolution that began with the sun’s release of the matter from which we are made some four billion years ago, continued with the arrival of Life to mobilize some of that matter into living beings some one billion years ago, was diversified over eons into the astonishing array of wondrous creatures whose bones populate our museums and that – step by agonizing step – took their turns in the great parade of earthly life from the single-celled, self-replicating amoebae of that “Original Life Moment” to the birth of our primordial human ancestors about a million years ago, or so. Indeed, I truly don’t understand how anyone who believes in a living, loving God has any choice but to accept both of these propositions.
Yet, astonishingly, this view – that God initiated what science discovers, and science confirms the wonder of His inventions – is roundly criticized from both sides. To the atheistically-leaning scientist, it is anathema. To the literalist Christian, it is blasphemy. I suppose you might say I’m swimming upstream here to embrace an idea so easily rejected by almost everyone who is going to read it, yet I persist, because, to me, this truth is the ultimate proof of our Loving Father, and the necessary foundation of any plausible explanation for our lives on earth.
Of course, To believe in both science and God begs all sorts of questions that, in the end, must be resolved, not the least of which is the one I just alluded to: is evolution is a real, living process? Well, forgive me, but really? Of course it’s real, and I seem silly even writing such an obvious point, but if love is blind, denial is blinder, since it owes its very existence to sightlessness, and it is a tragic scourge on both houses as they sail right past each other – and truth in the doing – with science insisting upon material provability of spiritual realities – a non-sequitur if ever there was one – and a great swath of believing Christians refusing to even consider facts uncovered over and over again by 21st Century archaeologists because they don’t conform to a poetic telling of our creation story as put to parchment by exiled Hebrew scribes nearly three millennia ago.
Yes, I suppose it is possible that God waved a magic wand and fabricated everything in six days – from stars to tigers to Adam and Eve – and then filled His beautiful work with practical jokes in the form of dinosaur bones or ancient ruins for some whimsy of His own, but I don’t believe that makes any sense at all. As I have said before, the God I know and love is not wasteful, and neither is He a jokester who would steer His beloved children down some false maze of paleontological ephemera. And, anyway, how much more elegant, astonishing and worthy of His magnificent creative abilities is the other option: that He graced our planet with the beginnings of Life – the first single-celled organisms capable of dancing to His energies – a billion years ago, or so, with everything required even in those microscopic creations – the full recipe – for building a succession of living beings, bit by bit, that we might ultimately, at long, long last, evolve organically, stably, fully, into persons: distinctly individualistic personalities capable of independent thought, creative insights, social engagement, analytical perspective, and, most importantly, active faith – a proclivity to worship; physical beings crafted from nothing but the elements all around us, yet miraculously endowed with the capacity to love and be loved, to know and be known, even by Him who so long ago planted those little seeds expressly, I believe, for the purpose of coaxing into being a family of earthly children who would turn out to be as marvelously diverse as possible.
God’s Miraculous Little Dynamo
When you really think about it, the largest unit of life on earth is much too small to see. Every creature, from the clump of grass to the blue whale, is but a gathering together of millions, billions, even trillions, of cells like so many Lego blocks, but unlike those static, plastic pieces, these little dynamos of God are anything but empty, and everything but still. Unfortunately, in 1665, when a Fellow named Robert Hooke, of the Royal Society of Fellows, first looked at a leaf through the newly invented microscope – each part surrounded by a stiff cuticle – it reminded him of a monastery laid out with rows of spare, tiny rooms, so he called those little segments “cells.” But surely in all the annals of science nothing has ever been so inaptly named, for, while it may have been beyond the power of his lens to see, within each one of those “walls” was everything required – the complete book of instructions and a full set of potentialities – to assemble the entire tree from which his leaf had sprung.
The wonder of our making is almost beyond words. Two little cells do a waltz in the womb and that is all it takes. Only two little cells, yet everything required to make a person is included and, in a very short time, their descendants diversify to become bone cells gathering calcium, or liver cells cleaning toxins, or blood cells delivering oxygen harvested only seconds before by lung cells. We are so used to these things that the wonder is taken for granted, but it all happens 24/7: trillions of cells working together in perfect harmony, without hitch or hiccough, generating heartbeat after heartbeat, breath upon breath, and thoughts that grow into more thoughts.
I have always prayed for good health, of course, but it was when I was struggling to quit smoking after decades of addiction that I found myself asking God to heal, if He would, those parts of my physical self that were most afflicted by my bad habit, and as my focus sharpened over time and I came to realize that the real seat of the harm I was doing was on the cellular level, I began praying for forgiveness not only from the Father I was surely offending, but as well from the lung cells I was physically assaulting on an hourly basis. I tried to identify with them as best I could in the hope of truly understanding their suffering, the harm I was doing to each of them, and this proved to be a useful tactic, as the more I inclined my heart to such admirable workers and appreciated their dedication and indefatigable efforts to keep me alive, the more absurd my abuse became, and I was ultimately able to put out my last cigarette nearly two years ago.
Of course, by the time that occurred, I had gained an affinity for my dedicated little building blocks. In spite of how little credit we may give our cells for the hard work they do, or poorly we may provide for their needs with our deficient diets and sedentary lives, they work like Oompa-Loompas twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, never stopping even once from the time they are born until their last secretions, and some of them live as long as we do. Physically speaking, we are nothing more than the sum total of the absolute commitment of these indomitable self-replicating, self-diverging, self-organizing, self-monitoring and self-regulating beings. Their “constancy to purpose” is staggering and their rate of success is nearly perfect – far more perfect than any of us could ever hope for – as almost all one-hundred-trillion of them are born, live and die without error, just as they were designed to do.
And, so, when I pray these days, after I have asked for God’s help in aligning my mind and heart with His, but before I move on to my prayers for you and all of our Earthly cousins, I ask Him to bless each of those one-hundred-trillion cells that comprise my physical body, that they might be as perfectly aligned as possible with His incoming energies. And, it never fails when I reach this point in my praying – and you may believe this or not, as you like – but that I can actually feel the rush of realignments passing through me. Then, since it is far beyond my ability to communicate on their level, I ask our Father for whom all things are possible to please tell each and every cell how grateful I am for the astonishing work it does solely for the purpose of giving me eyes to see and ears to hear, feet for mobility and hands to play a Beethoven Sonata, work the kink out of a loved one’s shoulder, or type this sentence. And, finally, I ask Him to watch over their combined efforts as they continue to give my soul an extraordinary ‘sensory experience machine’ that my mind and spirit may expand and stumble, assess and invent, and, most importantly, learn to exhibit “reverence for life” at every level – from the God who made me to the grass I tread – that I might be loved by life in return.
Over a Billion Years in the Making
Of course, thanks to science, we now know that what those two little cells do when they grow over nine short months into a fully-developed infant is but a rapid reflection of the process that began over a billion years ago with those initial single-celled living beings that inaugurated the great parade of Earthly life. The simplest known living cell and presumed first living thing on earth is called a prokaryote, and many scientists would have us believe that it simply sprang into life all by itself thanks to a fortuitous bolt of lightning, or some such, hitting exactly the right chemical compounds in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. But truth be known, there is nothing even the least bit simple about a prokaryote, and for any such “spark” to truly work, a whole host of very specific and diverse elements would have had to assemble themselves, unaided, into outrageously complex structures – including DNA and three different kinds of RNA. Does it not torture logic in the extreme to believe that such a spontaneous chain of events could ever have happened? And, even if, by some stroke of outrageous fortune all those little atoms did somehow line up in all the right sequences of sequences, even then, what naturally occurring electro-chemical phenomenon could possibly have happened to transform static chemicals into living, moving, eating, reproducing life capable of evolving into us? I submit that, absent the hand of God, it could not have happened, and of all the arguments for believing in a living, loving Creator, this one, it seems to me, is the most compelling.
For over a billion years those little seeds of life were nurtured as they grew from single cells to chains of cells to multi-celled creations that, in turn, became larger and larger life forms, each new strain more complex, more startling, more capable than the last, until, in the end, one-hundred trillion cells strong, humans walked upon the earth. For a billion years and more, I believe, our Father and His angels have nudged and cajoled us forward, ever looking toward the day when we might, ultimately, be His beautiful, worshipful family of man.
He must truly value us greatly to have expended so much time and effort on our making. The old hymn prays, “Thou art the potter, I am the clay,” but what an ambitious and strikingly daunting task our potting turns out to have been. How deeply He must care! How great His desire for our love must be to have gone to so much trouble that we might live and breathe upon the earth, and how greatly He must love us in return after having worked so long and assiduously to bring us into being. Every gardener knows how precious life becomes as one watches impatiently, day after day, for even the least little signs of growth, and that love is only for a season. How much more dear, then, we must be to our Father who has tended our garden over aeons.
Of course, that is just the Earthly expense of creating human beings. If you truly want to calculate the almost unimaginable costs of making a peopled universe, our mere billion years of growth on earth is but the last and least of the burdens God undertook when He decided to make us. Consider:
►Matter, itself, is extraordinarily expensive. To explain simplistically without getting too much in the weeds, when you split atoms and get an atomic explosion, it’s because you have released all the energy that had been holding those atoms together in the first place. And that’s just the energy contained in a few atoms. Now, if even you could, multiply that up to the billions of galaxies with billions of stars and all of if made of atoms. The total energy required for such a creation is beyond mind-boggling.
►Beyond the energy required to make the matter we can see, there are the other energies and forces that are brought to bear in our universe, both those recognized by physics – gravity, electromagnetic, etc. – as well, I would add, as those ever flowing gifts of God – Life, Love, Light, Beauty, Goodness and Truth – that also require His constant attention.
► Then, if you believe as I do, He has also created the hosts of angels who are ever and always watching, recording, urging, and helping us to find the light and grow into our best possible selves; to be both more aware of God’s love and more loving of Him in return. Of course, I can’t prove my angels – or yours – are truly there, but I believe they are, and I believe they are yet another gift from our loving Father, assuring that every last one of us is sponsored and supported in every moment of every day by remarkable spiritual guardians, and that is an enormous undertaking!
►Finally, as if all that wasn’t enough largess for Him to expend on our creation and care, our Father sent the ultimate gift, in spite of the enormous emotional cost, when He allowed His Son to be incarnated as a human being, to tread the sands of His own creation that He might know us from the inside-out even as He also gave to us His example of Life Perfected.
Given all this time, effort and costs required of our Father, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that we are truly unappreciative and astonishingly cavalier in our utilization of the marvelous gifts He so constantly lays at our feet. You may not believe that everything the Father, Son and Mother Spirit have accomplished since that first Big Bang (we can call it that, however it all began) has been done specifically and expressly for the eventual emergence of material children like you and me, but I do.
Of course, this begs the obvious question: What makes us so special that the Creator of Everything, Himself, would do all this maneuvering of energies, would set into motion processes for an eternity of time for our sake? If there really is a Father God and Mother Spirit, and they really did create worlds for people, and angels to care for us, over billions and billions of years, and even went so far as to send His Divine Son, Jesus, that He might get to know us as one of us, even unto crucifixion, why? What makes us so incredibly valuable? Could it really be that we are the point of all this creation? Could it really be that this was all put here for us out of His Infinite Love? Well, yes, I believe so, and it is both my privilege and my challenge to tell you why I have come to that conclusion; to explain, as best I can, how I believe that Heavenly accounting book actually balances.
You see, I believe that it is not only about Love, though it is surely that, it is also about experience. God delights in experience, and nothing pleases Him more, I believe, than to join with each of us – every last one of his material personalities – one at a time, as we lead our one-of-a-kind, individual lives. Of course, He hopes that we will lead productive lives in preparation for an eternity of association with Him, but even when our actions may disappoint, or our choices reject His path, our experience still counts as it adds to the sum total of His own. God, I believe, wants to do every righteous thing there is to do, be every beautiful, good and true thing there is to be, to join with each and every one of us as we live out our material lives.
Being above and beyond the limitations of time and place, it is not possible for the Totality of Our Father to live linearly, to slice up existence into little bits of experience, so we do it for Him even as He lives through us. Even the angels, who were created whole and perfect – who lovingly descend to assist us even as we ascend with their help, in time, to the Father – cannot help God experience anything new, since He created them out of His own cloth. No, it takes a random, happenstance, higgledy-piggledy sort of evolution implanted across billions of worlds within billions of galaxies to truly cover the possibilities, to ever be generating something never before seen or done or even conceived. That is why, I believe, no two personalities are ever alike. We were made to be unique and creative, to deliver a life distinctly ours in every moment of every day, and that is what we unquestionably do. Whether for good or ill, for better or for worse, we inevitably deliver on the promise of our creation, just as He has designed us. And that, dear reader, is why He loves us so much, and why, even at such great expense to Him, I believe the scales balance out.
I believe God has created an enormous universe of planets where every conceivable life scenario may be lived out, and in the doing, through His absolute love of His ascending children and the love we return to Him, the Infinite Being also gains the knowledge of finite experience. I also believe He has made it possible for us to draw ever closer to Him through multitudes of increasingly spiritual graduations, attaining, one after another, ever higher levels of existence over an eternity of time that we might, finally, become His children-in-full, having finally polished our rough edges to a fine sheen, corrected – on plane after plane – our imperfections, and brightened, over millions of years, our faces.
Did it ever strike you as strange-bordering-on-amazing that the most iconic and beautiful of natural materials, the diamond, is also the hardest? I remember learning that in elementary school and being astonished that something so brilliant and seemingly delicate as the ring on my mother’s slender finger was basically indestructible. But the secret to both the beauty and the strength of diamonds is found in their origins, the slow, intense burn under which they are born.
That any diamond was ever formed, given the difficult and rare conditions needed, is something of a miracle. Structurally, each one is a latticework that grows from a simple square of four carbon atoms that, first, must be bonded at depths of a hundred miles underground within a narrow range of very intense pressures (45-60 kilobars), and a narrow range of temperatures that are uncharacteristically low for that depth (900°-1300° C.). And, once all those conditions are met, it has to stay put, unmoving, to slow-cook for at least a billion years. Finally, after growing for all that time, if it just happens by some stroke of extraordinary fortune to be in the right place at the right time to be thrust up to the surface by a volcanic eruption at the right speed (at least 30 to 40 mph or it can turn to graphite), it may actually, one day, become anything from the stuff of legend like the Hope Diamond, to the sharp end of a drill bit.
But, of course, you’d most likely not even notice one if it was lying at your feet since, when they emerge, they are just rough rocks of no particularly interest to any but the well-trained eye. They come out rough, uneven, knobby, occluded, dirty, and most of the time without any hint whatever of the astonishing beauty, clarity and light they carry within.
Well, like diamonds, it has taken a billion years or more to make human beings, and like diamonds, no two of us are ever alike, in spite of our common origins. And, I would submit, like diamonds, we are rough around the edges and often filled with imperfections, but, like diamonds, that is only natural given the rough and tumble way we are born, live and die on planet earth. And as the eagle-eyed prospector sees the potential within the river rock that becomes the fancy diamond, our Father also sees the jewel that we have residing within, the jewel for which He first ideated each one of us, individually, knowing that, one day, perhaps while still on the earth but more likely in the ever more spiritual levels of life to come, the rough edges will become polished, the occlusions cut away, and we will each, facet by facet, become perfected as the radiant realization of our Father’s idea.
How can it be that we suffer both for taking ourselves too seriously, and, yet, not seriously enough? After all, at best, this earth, this material plane, is but a seed bed, a place where each of our personalities may take root and gather understanding and strength for the eternal life to come. It is a place where we can find our way to walking and talking, to smiling, to loving, to embracing or even to rejecting, but even the most wizened and ancient of us is still but an infant in the universal scheme of things. No one – especially a loving father – would punish an infant for wetting his diaper, yet, even though we are no more than infants on the cosmic level, we are an astonishingly unforgiving race of beings, both of each other, and even more so, sadly, of ourselves. Yes, we take ourselves, and our sins, entirely too seriously.
On the other hand, we don’t even begin to take ourselves seriously enough. I’m not talking now about the infant selves we all remain for at least as long as this life lasts, but about our real selves, our child-of-God selves, for we truly are His uncut diamonds, His treasure trove long nurtured and greatly beloved, the end result of His billion-year effort to make us strong and true. And, however rough and unformed we may feel we are, however dirty and flawed we may appear to ourselves or others, it is ever and only the polished, faceted gemstone within that Our Father sees as He waits and watches, longing for us to answer His knock and respond to His love, so that we may ultimately be seen, in accordance with His divine design, as the beautiful ascending jewels of earth we truly are.
“He remained an independent thinker throughout his life. Some years ago, one of his daughters presented him with a license plate bearing one of his favorite aphorisms: ‘Do the arithmetic or be doomed to talk nonsense.’”
— from the Oct. 25, 2011 New York Times obituary of John McCarthy, coiner of the term ‘Artificial Intelligence,’ (or “AI”) and one of the pioneers in its pursuit, who died on October 24, 2011 at the age of 84.
There are widely varying theories on when the first humans appeared. Here’s one article: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/whoami/findoutmore/yourgenes/wheredidwecomefrom/whowerethefirsthumans.aspx
 https://inpraiseofangels.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-living-water-boson/ (first paragraph)
 https://inpraiseofangels.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-living-water-boson/ (fourth section, fourth paragraph)
 2 Sep 2005, uncredited article in Times Higher Education, http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/198208.article “Each kind of tissue has its own turnover time, related at least partially to the workload endured by its cells. Epidermic cells, forming the easily damaged skin of the body, are recycled every two weeks or so. Red blood cells, in constant motion on their journey through the circulatory system, last only 4 months. As for the liver, the human body’s detoxifier, its cells’ lives are quite short – an adult human liver cell has a turnover time of 300 to 500 days. Cells lining the surface of the gut, known by other methods to last for only five days, are among the shortest-lived in the whole body. Ignoring them, the average age of intestinal cells is 15.9 years, Dr Frisén found. Skeletal cells are a bit older than a decade and cells from the muscles of the ribs have an average age of 15.1 years. When looking into the brain cells, all of the samples taken from the visual cortex, the region responsible for processing sight, were as old as the subjects themselves, supporting the idea that these cells do not regenerate. ‘The reason these cells live so long is probably that they need to be wired in a very stable way,’ Frisén speculates. Other braincells are more short-lived. Dr Frisén found that the heart, as a whole, does generate new cells, but he has not yet measured the turnover rate of the heart’s muscle cells. And the average age of all the cells in an adult’s body may turn out to be as young as 7 to 10 years, according to him.”