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Quantum Mechanics and a Giant Headache

Quantum Mechanics and a Giant Headache

You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live. Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.  Exodus 33:20-23

Occasionally over the years, I’ve felt compelled to try and understand more about modern physics and quantum mechanics. So, several times in my life, I’ve picked up and reread one of my Stephen Hawking books. I truly enjoy learning more about God’s universe, but the result is always the same. I learn a little, but once the book delves deeply into subatomic particles and special relativity, my head starts to ache. I’m a reasonably intelligent person, but honestly, I understand only about a quarter of those books. It seems that my brain just isn’t equipped to grasp some concepts. I’m sure I could learn more if I really applied myself, but there is a limit to my comprehension and trying to force more into my brain makes my head spin.

This is, in small, what Moses discovered in today’s passage. In the story, Moses boldly asked God for a favor. I want to see you. God was pleased and consented to Moses request – with a caveat. You can’t see my face. That would kill you. So, God presented himself to Moses, but prevented Moses from looking him full in the face, for Moses’ own protection.

This has always struck me as an odd passage. Why would it kill a man to see God fully? I don’t understand. And that is where my question begins to answer itself – I’m simply not capable of understanding God completely. If my little Stephen Hawking book gives me a headache, then seeing all of God’s truth and glory would literally overthrow and destroy my mind.

What’s the lesson? The lesson is that God wants us to know and be known by him, but we could spend an entire lifetime learning more about him without coming close to exhausting our knowledge of him. God is infinite, creating, containing, and sustaining the entire universe in himself. He’s beyond space and time. Yet, somehow, he reaches down and involves himself in our little lives, desiring to know us and for us to know him. We were created to live in a loving relationship with him, daily seeking him, learning more about him. We will never understand everything about God, but it is our greatest purpose to seek him, knowing him better every day.

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