Reality


Is God real? Part of me tries to answer that question with reference to my little life. The divine realm seems insubstantial, distant, ethereal. When I pray to be saved from car trouble and I am saved from car trouble, the happiness I feel is a product of relief. God did this "real" thing, so I am reassured that he is real.

However: Am I real? Arguably, I am the insubstantial one. I am a cloud. So are you. This is a physical fact—the nucleus of any atom that composes one of us is minuscule, while its electrons, relatively speaking, orbit far away from it. There is nothing in between the two. As a result, if you could take a pointer as tiny as an electron and point it at any part of your body, that pointer would almost certainly point at nothing. It would point to a spot of emptiness that bears no indication of you.

Meanwhile, we are just as absent within large-scale measurements. Take the sweep of time from beginning to end. Take the span of space within reach of our telescopes. My life, including the impact of my life, is so tiny as to have no measurable reality within either of these contexts.

Jesus said the meek will inherit the earth. The meekness of appreciating our own minuteness and insubstantiality is a prerequisite for understanding the world as it truly is. If I am "real," as I like to imagine myself to be, then God must be hyper-real. He is the possessor of ultimate reality—the reality more real than me, more real than the earth I stand on. I come closer to God, closer to peace, when I see my life as a vapor that will melt away in the presence of his reality.