Chapter 3 – Do you believe in God?

Elder Jäger was getting frustrated. He didn’t want to move too far away from his message and the purpose of his questions. He grew up on a  farm and was studying agricultural engineering at a small University in Idaho. He didn’t much care for physics. He quickly scanned the room looking for something that he could leverage to get him back to his message. He didn’t see a single photo in the room of the old man’s family. In fact, there were no photos at all. He looked for something that he could use to get back to his questions. He spotted a very odd framed document on the wall. It looked like a university degree but the writing wasn’t in English or Latin. It looked like braille on some sort of dark foil paper. He could read the name that was clearly in English … A-V-A-T-A-R. “Avatar?” He had accidentally said it out loud. The old man responded, “Yes, may I ask a question?”

What just happened, thought Elder Jäger? He wanted to shift the dialogue to ask his questions and now the old man, whose name apparently is Avatar, wanted to ask his own question. This was not going as Elder Jäger had planned. Elder Gottlieb on the other hand was glad that he followed Elder Jäger to a few more doors. He was getting excited and wanted the game to move forward. “Yes, Avatar, you may ask us a question. “Avatar asked a question they the two missionaries may have asked. “Do you believe in God?”1

Elder Jäger thought to himself, now we are getting back on message; however, that was the type of question that he normally asked people. He took this as an opportunity to get back to his message. Elder Jäger responded, “Yes, we believe in God. He is our Father. We were created in his image. He is perfect in every way. We lived with him before we came to this physical earth.”

“Do you believe that God is omnipotent and that people have free will, asked Avatar?”1 Elder Jäger responded, yes, we believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all loving. How do you define free will?

The dictionary defines “free will” as ‘the freedom to make choices that are neither determined by natural causes or predetermined by divine will.’ Elder Jäger answered, “that’s not exactly what we believe.”

If you do not believe in free will, what do you believe in, Avatar asked? Elder Jäger explained, “God gave everyone equal access to a system that obeys the law of opposition. Everything has its opposite. We are enticed to be attracted to one side and opposed to the other. Knowledge of these principles gives us the ability to choose. We can also sense the forces that attract or push us away from a choice.”

Consider that chair over there. It has four legs. If you were to cut off a leg, the chair falls, correct? Think of the chair as our ability to make choices according to our own will. Each leg represents the parts of the system that make real choice possible. First, opposites need to exist, like the sweet and the bitter, or pleasure and pain. If only opposites existed, you would choose based on what makes you feel better. That’s not much of a choice. Second, you need a law or a set of rules that you commit to live by. For example, there could be a rule that you cannot eat sweets in the evening. Those two things alone are still not enough. Third, you need a system of justice that can deliver a punishment if you break the rule and provide a way to make course corrections. There is still something missing that will provide you with true will or agency to choose. Without it, the chair falls quickly to the ground. These three things seem like enough but they are not. The fourth is mercy that is motivated by love. Mercy does not “rob justice” but it provides a way to clean up your act, like a reset.

Elder Gottlieb saw an opportunity to speak and use his knowledge of physics to help explain the point. He reached into his backpack and pulled out two bar magnets, the kind with red north on one side and blue south on the other. Elder Gottlieb placed the two magnets down on the table. Avatar sat up a bit looking a little curious. “When I place the red sides together they push away and when I turn the magnets around they are attracted to one another. If the opposite forces didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be able to make this choice.” Avatar asked, “what you are saying is that the freedom to choose exists because opposites exist?” Elder Gottlieb responded, “yes, forces exist that either attract or oppose each opposite side. Like the magnetic field between these two magnets.”

Those forces or fields between your magnets; you can’t see them or touch them. They are not physical. “How can something that doesn’t exist in physical form have influence over your actions, Avatar asked?”1 Elder Gottlieb asked, “how do you define physical?” Avatar closed his eyes for moment and then stated the dictionary definition of the word physical as if he were reading from an online dictionary. “According to the dictionary, a physical object is tangible, visible, or something that can cast a shadow when light is directed towards it.”

Elder Gottlieb used the definition to make his point. “Yes, and high-resolution infrared cameras can see the lines of a magnetic field in space as light polarizes visible matter around a magnetic field. With the assistance of light and a finely tuned instrument, we can see the effects of the magnetic fields. Light casts a shadow of the field; which, based on your definition makes the magnetic field physical.”

Avatar asked, “Can you see the forces between choices? Are those forces physical?” Looking down at the book in his hand, Elder Gottlieb explained, “yes, the same light that comes from the stars, lights up our moon and creates a beautiful sunrise, is the same light that helps us to see the forces between our choices.” Intrigued, Avatar asked, “What technology can see the light that illuminates a choice and who can see the shadow that the choice casts?” Elder Gottlieb was starting to make the connection in his mind between light waves and spiritual understanding. “A simple Dobsonian telescope can capture light and bring it to our eye through a lens. The infrared instrument that I mentioned can see the shadows of magnetic fields and our spiritual eyes can see a wavelength of light that not everyone can see unless they have tuned their spiritual instrument. Unable to make quickly argue Elder Gottlieb’s point, Avatar stated, “that is a plausible hypothesis, that there are wavelengths in light that are not visible to your eyes or current technology. We will continue to invent new technologies to see patterns in our observable universe. We do not know why light acts the way it does.”

Elder Gottlieb decided to shift to a new analogy, one that the old man was probably not familiar with. He was too old to have ever played computer games. “This is probably a dumb question, but have you have ever played simulation games, he asked?” Avatar answered, “I know quite a bit about simulations and simulated games. Please continue.”

When you first enter a simulation game, you are asked if you want to learn the rules of the game in a tutorial. Most people skip that part and go right into game play. 

“Whether you choose to skip the tutorial of the rules or not, the rules still exist. In all games there are a few common things. All games have goals. You need to make decisions throughout the game to achieve your goals. As you go through the game, you encounter more and more complex challenges and obstacles. You can freely make choices but each choice has a consequence. God provides us with choices, rules, challenges along our path, and consequences for every decision.”

This animated Avatar. He appeared to wake up a bit. He was ready to get back to his series of questions. “If God is omnipotent and omniscient, doesn’t he know all of the choices that we will make before we make them? How can an omniscient God both know ahead of time the choices that we will make and also grant freedom of choice? Aren’t the choices already made?”1

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  1. Adams, Scott. God’s Debris a Thought Experiment. Andrews McMeel, 2013