Most folks offer advice on how to find God. But simply looking around at the natural world and its endless majesty suggests it is not very hard to find God. Perhaps it is our criteria that makes it harder to find evidence of God than it normally would? What if God could be anything that makes us feel awe?
Back in the 70s, my wife and I went to see a famous Christian singer named Kevin Gould. He had written a song asking this very same question. Just last year my mentor and colleague Dr. Markey and myself asked Kevin Gould (now Pastor Gould) if we might use his song in our research, and he kindly said yes.
(The Question (c) 1976 by Kevin Gould. Used by permission)
This child had a simple question. Have you seen God? How can I find Him?
First, the child went to the expert he knew best – his hard-working dad. But the child’s dad was too busy helping his family survive to look for God.
So he kept looking. He ran into a preacher. What a stroke of luck! Surely the preacher’s job was to find God! But when the child asked him, this expert told the child he was not smart enough to find God. Curiously, Jesus didn’t say that on the Mount long ago.
Lastly, the boy stumbled on a man without a job. He was neither a wise preacher nor a hard-working man. How could he possibly know how to find God? How could someone who simply adored Creation have worked hard enough or been intelligent enough to find God? Yet this tune suggests that seeking God doesn’t require poring over books or learning a trade (even if those seem to be the best way). Simply sitting still and letting God come to you is often enough to seek the kingdom of heaven. When I look around – here in Zion, Utah – it doesn’t take me very long to find God. Sometimes it’s the mountains. Sometimes it’s a kind act by young men helping out an old man who just moved from Arkansas.
This tune suggests that God is only as hard to find as you make Him.
So we set out to test that theory. We are pursuing a set of experiments that may help us see whether or not we are too busy to notice God, or too picky to admit we just saw God in a flower or a mountain. How long will it take you to find God in this scene? How many times will you see God in this scene? We can use any object – for example, if we ask you to find a bat, how long will it take you to find one? Well, if you are looking for a Lil’ Slugger (a piece of wood) and the bat is actually a Fledermaus (a flying mammal), it will take you a long time. In the same way, if we think God must look a certain way, it will take longer to find Him than if we let God appear as anything at all that brings us comfort inside. Someone named Donders conducted studies just like this (only he wasn’t looking for God). Still, whatever we seek, the delay before we find our goal object will depend on how picky we are. The number of objects should be uncountable, and their figure ineffable.
Would you like to be a part of our study? This concept of reverence is in our book. Here is an excerpt:
“So the principle of reverence ought to be that nothing should prevent one from feeling reverence, no matter how importunely God comes knocking at the door of one’s regard (Luke 11:8). If humans wait until certain things knock before humans open the door to their regard, only certain things will bring them awe. The authors are even now in the process of constructing psychological studies using hidden object games, to study this phenomenon—of waiting for certain things before humans decide that something is worth waiting for. There is a lovely song about it, called “The Question” by Kevin Gould (K. Gould, personal communication, February 24, 2019). In that song, a little boy asks various grown-ups if they have seen God at all, but most are too busy to notice God. Only an old man gazing at Nature has seen God that day, and says, “Son, when I look around, I thinks I sees nothin’ else” (Gould, 1976, stanza 6)” (Markey & Meinecke, 2020, chapter 3).
Gould, K. (1976). The question [Recorded by K. Gould]. On True stories [LP]. Waco, TX: Myrrh Records.
Markey, M. A. & Meinecke, L. M. (2020). Examining biophilia and societal indifference to environmental protection. Hershey, PA: IGI Global Publishing. doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-4408-2