Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Making a cup of tea (updated 20 December 2014)

Some things happen so commonly that we accept them without being aware of what is involved.

If I decide to make a cup of tea I think about kettles, mugs, milk and tea bags. But a hugely complex process is set in motion without me being aware of it.

Once the decision is made neurological activities and muscular control systems come into play and are synchronized to perform the following actions and more:
 turn on the water tap,
 fetch the jug
 fill the jug with water
 carry it to the kettle
 fill the kettle
 switch on the kettle
 fetch the cup off the shelf
 go to the can of tea bags
 open the can
 take out a tea bag
 take it to the cup
 put it in the cup
 go to the fridge
 take a carton of milk from the fridge
 take the carton to the cup
 pour the right amount of milk into the cup
 switch off the kettle when it has boiled
 take the kettle to the cup
 pour hot water onto the tea bag
 find a teaspoon
 stir the tea
 spoon out the teabag. 

But this is a vastly simplistic portrayal of what is really happening at the cellular, inter-cellular, intracellular, molecular and atomic levels. Billions (possibly trillions) of related events are set in motion. An unimaginably complex process initiated by a single decision.

Could this be a clue to how the Creator works in human history, for instance? He decides that a certain goal must be achieved at a certain stage of human history and immediately the processes are set in motion – processes involving perhaps millions of lives to varying degrees. He wills the result, it happens and we call it fate or destiny or chance. Reality emerged  such that God does not have to micromanage. Our free will is choosing whether to go with or against the flow and has serious consequences.

What set me off thinking this way was a report from Eben Alexander, an academic neurosurgeon, who had a well documented after life experience with a non-functioning neocortex and despite his former skepticism and which was the subject of a cover story in Newsweek.

‘…I began wordlessly putting questions to this wind and to the divine being that I sensed at work behind or within it. Where is this place? Who am I? Why am I here? Each time I silently posed one of these questions, the answer came instantly in an explosion of light, colour, love and beauty that blew through me like a crashing wave…a question would arise in my mind and the answer would arise at the same time…it was almost as if, just as no physical particle in the universe is really separate from another, so in the same way there was no such thing as a question without an answer.’

He learned that our observable universe is part of an infinite multidimensional reality suffused with love which we cannot access by science. If this is the case it seems entirely plausible to assume God can bring about events in human history, say, without having to ‘micromanage’.

And the fact that I can make a cup of tea without analyzing every step seems to fit in with this greater picture. 

See also Deep mystery of existence

 John Sears