Life imitates art? I found this photo on a European site promoting the conversion of human ashes into diamonds through a patented pressurization process. Who knew? (royalty-free photo)
“We have nothing, if not belief.”
– Sir Reepicheep, Chief Mouse of Narnia, Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C.S. Lewis)
“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, since it is surely true that however much you may believe something in your heart, until you actually codify it – until you put it into words – it remains a benign knowing untouched by the light of discernment; a happy faith in something 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 real 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 doing it has been much more challenging than expected, the marvelous bonus has been the process, itself. Like an old prospector whose faith will never wane, even in my childhood I was panning and sieving and finding nuggets of truth for my thimble that ultimately led me to golden veins of what I perceive to be understanding; veins that, once discovered, I have done my best to follow wherever they led. Truth has to make sense or it isn’t True, and this is the standard to which I have, at least to my own internal satisfaction, held my religious beliefs, as well.
But, like I said, for these ideas to be truly real, they must be written down, so these three essays have been those writings – the three pillars of my belief codified, my Christ-centered outlook put into actual words – a sincere effort to forge a golden chain of plausibility from link to link and first to last that is solid and true and aglow with the love of the God Whom I love and Whom I believe loves me – loves all of us – even to a much greater degree than we can even conceive, and it is, finally, to His love that passeth understanding that I turn in this third essay.
Of course, there is still much, very much, that remains outside my understanding of what really is, but surely it all has to begin with an acceptance that there is nothing incompatible in the two ideas that 1) we are the beloved, known, embraced children of the personal and infallible Source of the Course of the Universe and are therefore just exactly the family of material children He intended us to become when He first conceived of the human race and put into motion the processes that made us, and 2) that the earth and everything it holds has eventuated along a scientifically delineable path of growth and evolution that began with the sun’s release some four billion years ago of the very matter from which you and I and everything we touch was made, continued with the arrival of God’s own “breath of life” (or “Living Water” if you read my previous essay), to mobilize some of that matter into life on earth some one billion years ago, life which then progressed over eons into the astonishingly diverse array of wondrous creatures whose bones populate our museums and that – step by agonizing step – took their place in the great parade from the single-celled, self-replicating amoebae of that “Original Life Moment” to the birth of human beings about one million years ago. Indeed, I truly don’t understand how anyone who believes in the first idea – a living, loving Heavenly Father – has any choice, given all the clear, irrefutable archeological evidence that has been unearthed over centuries, but to completely accept the latter proposition, as well.
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 a confluence of ideas so easily rejected by everyone, yet I persist, because, to me, these truths are 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 dealt with, not the least of which is the one I just alluded to: is evolution 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 loss to 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 time and again by scientists because they run counter 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 the big dipper to duck-billed platypi to Adam and Eve – and then filled His beautiful work with practical jokes in the form of dinosaur bones and 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 jester 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 realizing 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 insight, 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 US: a family of earthly children to love and to be loved by in return, and to do so in such a way that we would inevitably turn out to be as marvelously diverse as possible, but every one of us exactly as He has projected us, in His image; in His imagination. “Red and yellow, black and white, [we] are precious in His sight….”
Life’s Miraculous Little Dynamo
Now here’s something to think on: the largest self-contained unit of life ever born is much too small to see. Every living thing we do see, from a blade of grass to a blue whale, is but a gathering together of millions, billions, even trillions-upon-trillions, of teensy cells like so many microscopic Lego blocks, but unlike those static, plastic pieces, these little dynamos are anything but empty, and everything but still. 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.
And, that’s just a tree! What about people? 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 tiny cells, yet everything required to make an entire person is included and, in a very short time, their offspring 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 of it all is taken for granted, but it happens 24/7: trillions of cells working together in perfect harmony, without hitch or hiccup, generating heartbeat after heartbeat, breath upon breath, and even thoughts that grow into more thoughts that sometimes even grow into actions: the creature’s creative response to being alive.
It was actually when I was struggling to quit smoking after decades of addiction that I came to truly appreciate the importance of our little living building blocks. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever prayed for help in quitting, and, over time, that simple prayer expanded as I tried to imagine the damage I was surely doing to my body. 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 realized 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. Of course, I doubt they are the least bit sentient, much less self-aware, but I tried, nevertheless, to truly understand 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 gained in my appreciation of their dedication and indefatigable efforts to keep me alive, the more absurd my abuse of them became, and I was finally able to stamp out my last cigarette nearly [five] years ago.
Of course, by that time, I had gained an affinity for my dedicated little cells. In spite of how little credit we may give them for the hard work they do, or how poorly we may provide for them with our deficient diets and sedentary habits, they work like microscopic Oompa-Loompas, never stopping, even for a second, from birth until the moment of 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 of the one-hundred-trillion of them in each of our bodies are born, live and die without error, just as I believe they were designed to do.
And, so, when I pray these days, after first asking for God’s help in aligning my mind and heart with His, but before moving on to my prayers for you and all of our Earthly cousins, I ask Him to align each and every one of my one-hundred-trillion cells that they might absorb as much as possible of His incoming energies of Light, Life and Love. 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, after all) to please give each individual cell my thanks for the astonishing work it does solely for my benefit, whether that be giving me eyes to see or ears to hear, feet to walk, or hands capable of typing this sentence.
Over a Billion Years in the Making, and So Expensive!
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.
cross section of prokaryote cell
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. And, even if, by some stroke of outrageous fortune, all those little atoms did somehow line up in all the right sequences of sequences, what naturally occurring electrochemical phenomenon could possibly have happened to transform static chemicals into living, moving, eating, reproducing life capable of evolving into us? Does it not torture logic beyond reason to believe that such a spontaneous chain of events could ever have happened? I submit that, absent the hand of God, it could not have, and of all the arguments for believing in a living, loving Creator, this one, it seems to me, is the most compelling.
Rather, I see no other choice but to believe those little prokaryotes, or something very much like them, were purposely placed by some Heavenly agency into primordial wetlands over a billion years ago, were lovingly 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, the first true humans walked upon the earth. In other words, 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, become that beautiful, worshipful family of man that was His original intention and of which we are all members.
Of course, the minute you actually accept all this as fact – once you grasp that God really did ordain and create the universe, including us – you begin to realize just how dearly we cost him; how enormously expensive in energy, time, space and love we are. Our Father must truly love us deeply to have expended so much creative wherewithal 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 would seem to be. How deeply He must care to have taken so much trouble that you and I might live and breathe. Life yearns for Love, Love requires Life, and God, as they say, is Love.
Every gardener knows how precious the life of each tiny emerging bud, every new leaf, becomes as it is watched impatiently, day after day, for even the least little signs of growth. Even though we know full well that, to quote Psalm 90, “In the evening it is cut down and witherith,” we nonetheless cannot help but love the life we nourish, that comes from the seeds of our own planting. It is irresistible. How much more dear then must we be to our Father in Heaven who has tended His earthly garden over aeons, ever encouraging, ever sponsoring our progress from those single-celled swimmers of that original miry bog into the fully-developed human children that we are. Through His grace and, it seems to me, according to His purposes, we have been formed, step-by-step, from brackish mud into exactly those beings He yearned to form: beings capable of transmitting even His very own emotions through the love in our hearts and light of our eyes.
In other words, making people from scratch takes time and effort and, I would posit, lots of coordination by many celestial forces to accomplish. And, of course, this is just what is required for one planetary population; for one garden of material beings. As I have said before, it seems clear enough to me that God, not being wasteful, did not make all these billions of galaxies just to beautify the night sky. 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 expenses our loving Father must have undertaken when He decided to populate His great expanse. Consider:
►The first expense would be matter, itself, which 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! Just think how much force is required just to hold together the atoms in a sheet of paper! (Much less to make a person. One approximation I found on PhysicsForum suggested there are 100,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in a single human cheek cell. That, multiplied by the 100 trillion cells estimated to exist in the body would come to 10-to-the-25th-power atoms just to build you, give or take a few.) Now, if even you could, multiply that up to the billions of beings on billions of planets – not to mention the planets, themselves – filling the far reaches of space and all of if made of atoms. The total energy required for such a creation is beyond mind-boggling and surely incalculable, yet you, and I, and this computer and all the rest of creation really does exist because God has expended all the energy necessary to hold it all together. Unfathomable doesn’t even begin to describe it.
►The second expense on the ledger would be all those radiant energies that must be brought to bear in our universe, both those recognized by physics – gravity, electromagnetic, strong and week atomic forces, etc. – as well as, I would add, all those radiant energy gifts of God – Life, Love, and Light as explained in my previous essay (the Flow of God) – that also require a constant outpouring across all of His great creation.
► Thirdly, if you believe, as I do, that He has also created the hosts of angels who are ever and always watching, recording, urging, and guiding us to find the light and grow into our best possible selves; to help us be both more aware of God’s love and more loving of Him in return, then those costs in spirit, time, space, education and supervision must also be considered. Of course, I can’t prove my angels – or yours – are truly there, but I believe they are, even as 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 a cast of remarkable spiritual influences.
►Finally, as if all that wasn’t enough largess for Him to expend on our creation and care, our Father even sent the ultimate gift – in spite of the enormous risk – when He allowed His Creator Son to be incarnated as a human being to tread the sands of His own creation, learning to know His created children from the inside-out, even while giving to us and a watching Universe His example of a material Life Perfected, our very own Uncle Jesus.
Yet, in spite of all this Divine generosity, we are such ingrates! Given all the time, effort and cost required of our Father to make us who we are, and beyond that, to give us such a marvelous, beautiful world to populate, it is hard not to conclude that we are vastly under-appreciative 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 truly began) has been done specifically and expressly for the eventual emergence of material children like you and me, but I do. Once you have accepted the idea that God is infallible and thus we are truly God’s intended result, what other possible explanation could there be?
Of course, this begs the obvious question: What makes us so special? If there really is a Father God and Mother Spirit, and they really did create worlds for people to populate over billions of years, really did eventuate hosts of unseen angels out of this thing called ‘spirit’ just to care for us, and ultimately went so far as to risk even our Creator Son, Jesus, allowing Him to be born as a defenseless infant, why? Why would He do that? What makes us so incredibly valuable? What could we possibly bring to the table that is so desirable? How could it be that the Heavenly accounting book actually balances?
Well, 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. After all, if God is God, He can do that. Of course, He hopes that we will lead productive lives in preparation for an eternity of loving association with Him, but even when our actions may disappoint, or our choices reject His path, our experience is still His experience, and every life lived still adds another chain of doings to that which God the Supreme has done; to the sum total of His own meaning. God, I believe, wants to do every righteous thing there is to do, to 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, fractured, imperfect, even occasionally iniquitous, lives. He is, all the while, speaking to our inner ears with His still, small voice, hoping for the best, filling our dreams with beauty and goodness and rejoicing with us when we actually, occasionally, succeed in reaching them for ourselves.
And, He does all this, insists upon a partnership with His creatures because, being above and beyond the limitations of time and place Himself, 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 nearly perfect – who lovingly descend to assist us even as we ascend, with their help and in the fullness of time, to the Father – cannot help Him experience anything new, anything unexpected, 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 worse, we inevitably deliver upon 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, I believe that He would say the scales of our mutual gifts to each other ultimately balance.
Did it ever strike you as strange-bordering-on-bizarre that the most iconic and beautiful material found in nature, the diamond, is also the hardest? I remember being astonished when I was taught that in elementary school. It was hard to believe that something so seemingly delicate as the glimmering ring on my mother’s tiny finger was basically indestructible. But the secret to both the beauty and the strength of diamonds is found in their origin: the slow, intense burn under which they are born.
That any diamond was ever formed, given the difficult and rare conditions required, is something of a miracle. Structurally, each one is a latticework grown 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 sharp end of a drill to the Hope Diamond.
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 common pebbles of no particularly interest to any but the well-trained eye. They come out uneven, knobby, occluded, dirty, and most of the time without any hint whatever of their astonishing qualities; of the 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 course around the edges and often filled with imperfections, but that is only natural given the rough and tumble way we are born, live and die on planet earth. However, even as the eagle-eyed rock-hound sees the potential within the stone that becomes the fancy diamond, our Father also sees the jewel that we have residing within, the beautiful soul that we have nurtured together knowing that possibly, one day – perhaps while still on the earth but more likely in the ever more spiritual levels of life to come – our rough edges would become polished, our occlusions be cut away, and we might, facet by facet, become perfected into the radiant realization of our Father’s original idea.
How can it be that we suffer both for taking ourselves too seriously, and, yet, not seriously enough? On the one hand, at best, this earth, this material plane, is naught but a seed bed, a place where our original two cells might join and grow into fully-developed beings, 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, smiling, even loving, but even the most wizened and ancient of us is still just a baby in time, a mere infant in the universal scheme of things. No one – especially a loving father – would punish a newborn for wetting his diaper, yet, even though we are no more than infants on the cosmic level, we are terrible at forgiving each other, and even worse at forgiving ourselves. Yes, we take ourselves, and especially our perceived transgressions, entirely too seriously.
On the other hand, we don’t even begin to take ourselves seriously enough. I’m not talking now about our earthly selves, but about our real selves, our child-of-God selves, for we truly are His diamonds in the rough, each a treasure-trove of eternal potentialities long nurtured and greatly beloved. We, you and I and all of our earthly cousins across seven continents, are the result of an extraordinary billion-year effort – a process of eventuating that began on the shores of Pangea – to make us exactly who we are! And, however rough and unformed we may judge ourselves to be, however dirty and flawed we may feel, I truly believe it is ever and only the one-of-a-kind precious gem, the eternal soul growing within each of us, that Our Father sees as He waits and watches, longing for us to answer His knock and respond to His love; waiting for us to finally emerge, in accordance with His divine design, as the beautiful ascending jewels of earth we truly are.
© 2014 by George Thomas Wilson. All rights reserved. [Revised 2017]
“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.”
 https://inpraiseofangels.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-living-water-boson/ (part four)
© 2015 George