A Cell in Your Liver
In response to Arthur Goldwag’s “Why I Don’t Pray,” juniper from Vancouver posed a bit of a challenge:
do you really think that a cell in your liver has no relation to you, or you to it?
Praying is hard to wrap the mind around. No disagreement there. But the incommensurate God is not necessarily a God without relation.
And Arthur replies this way:
Of course I’m not saying that there is no relation between me and one of the cells in my liver, or for that matter, between me and God. My liver is a part of me; it purifies my blood and manufactures bile so I can digest my food, to mention just two of the things it does. When all of its pieces are working together harmoniously, I feel good and healthy; should one of them mutate and metastasize, I will get sick and die. If I drink too much alcohol or take too many A and D vitamins, I can do my liver irreparable harm.
We are organically and functionally related and mutually dependent on each other, but what we can’t do is socialize. There is a language problem; there is the matter of scale. It’s just a metaphor, but I think it holds up fairly well. I am a part of God’s universe, maybe even a part of God. I live and breathe the divine presence; all I do magnifies (or diminishes) its Name. But there’s not a lot of give and take.
To leave the metaphor aside, I don’t argue that there can’t be communication—just that I don’t know how to try and probably wouldn’t even if someone who had the knack for that sort of thing (a yogic adept, a gospel singer, a Stylite) offered to teach me.
I don’t disdain prayer; it’s just not something I do.
Arthur raises an ancient question: do God and humanity really have anything to say to one another? Do they have enough in common? In Aristotle’s Metaphysics, for instance, God was far aloof from human affairs. But the last work of his teacher, Plato’s Laws, insisted that belief that the gods are not attentive to human concerns is one of the roots of all crime and evil.
So, if a cell in your liver cried out to you, how would you respond?