Q: If you could be God for a day, why would you want the opportunity?
Just as you did in a recent column, I’ve wondered, as a pediatric surgeon, why God made a world where children developed cancer and more. So why would you want the opportunity to be God for a day? To fix things? When the Baal Shem Tov said to his students, “I wish I were God” while watching Jews being persecuted by Cossacks, they replied, “Oh, you would stop this?” “No,” he replied, “but I would understand why.” That helped me.
In George Sumner Albee’s short story, “The Next Voice You Hear,” God speaks to the planet in all languages at the same time. The basic message: A perfect world is not creation; it’s a magic trick. You are here to live and learn. Peace. – B., Cyberspace
A: This question comes from a distinguished doctor, author and spiritual guide. It’s an honor to try to answer your question, dear Dr. B.
I wouldn’t want to be God even for a day because I don’t understand what that means. I can understand the appeal of becoming another person for a day. I can grasp wanting to be Einstein, Picasso or Jack Nicklaus, to feel what excellence feels like when it approaches genius. But these are idle wishes that mostly make sense late at night with good friends over a few drinks.
Wanting to be God, on the other hand, is wanting to be another type of being altogether. We’re not just different in attributes. We’re different in essence. God is not a person. Christian beliefs about Jesus don’t contradict this truth because, as the Christian belief in the Trinity affirms, He assumed the likeness of a person but was always a part of the triune essence of God.
Between God and mortals, there are, however, two points of contact that define what it means to be made in the image of God. Like God, we have freedom of the will and we can love and be loved.
In recent columns, I wrote about the necessity of our free will and how this limits God’s ability to know what we’ll do next. Your question allows me to explain what I mean by our ability to love. Love means wishing for others the best we might wish for ourselves. To love, one must want to help someone else more than we want to help ourselves. To love is to dedicate yourself to a cause that transcends your own life. Love is the natural fruit of service and self-transcendence. To love is to bring the image of God into the world.
I know what it’s like to try to love someone or some cause and fail because I couldn’t love enough. Therefore, if I were God for a day, it would only be to understand what it’s like to always love enough – yet still fail to make us love one another.
I think God fails to change us even through love because we’re often afraid to be loved and to love each other.
When Father Tom Hartman and I started the God Squad, it was to spread a simple message: We know enough how we’re different and not enough about how we’re all the same. I think our fear ultimately comes from focusing so much on how we’re different and forgetting how we’re alike. God knows how we’re the same because God created us all in God’s image.
So, dear B., I wouldn’t want to be God so I could understand more deeply. I might want to be God so I could love more deeply.
Send questions only to the God Squad via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.