God, Elohim, and the essence of Nature

        May 2014    
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The Nature of Nature and the Nature God

By Larry Fine

When I was young it was fashionable to say that God is nature. I don't know if people say that today or not, but thinking about the purpose of life and the world and everything that makes up the world seems to have fallen from fashion. (I sometimes doubt if people are capable of independent thought.)

But still the question remains: What is nature exactly? How does something become defined as nature? How does nature exist and its relationship to God?

Let us first understand what is 'nature'.

We use the word nature to describe something that we can not give a logical reason for being.

In the old days people were puzzled why do some objects fall faster than others. A rock will fall faster than a feather. Why?

They answered simply that a rock weighs more than a feather therefore it falls faster. It is the nature of a heavier object to fall faster than a lightweight object. That was nature; look, see, measure and come up with the logical conclusions.

Later scientists discover that no, objects fall because there is 'gravity' which pulls objects down and since there exists also air which presents friction to prevent objects from falling, therefore a rock falls faster since the air friction is less effective upon it than on a feather. However in a perfect vacuum, both the rock and the feather should fall at the same velocity.

Then the question came up what is gravity and what causes it to be? The answer was 'nature'. Today we can be more sophisticated but still we must stop our intellectual inquiry at some point and just say, 'it is nature'.

What has happened is that nature became the stopping point of human inquiry; more than this we do not know therefore we say when we can not explain a phenomenon that this exists because it is nature.


As an example a young boy asks his father, why is it that the light goes on and off when we flip a switch. So the father explains because there are wires that go from the switch to the light and by flipping the switch turns the light on and off.

So the boy is satisfied with the answer for the moment but comes back and asks how does it work that the wires turn the light on and off. The father answers him that there is electricity in the wires and when you flip the switch off it stops the electricity from reaching the light bulb and when you turn the switch on then the electricity reaches the light bulb and the light comes on.

So now again the boy is satisfied with the answer.

But later the boy comes back and asks the father how did the electricity get in the wires. So the father replies that all homes are connected to the electric company and the electric company provides us with electricity.

So again the boy is satisfied with the answer.

But later the boy returns to ask his father how did the electric company get the electricity. So the father says there are generators that produce the electricity for the electric company.

So the boy is again satisfied with knowing what is going on in the world.

That is until he returns and asks how do generators make electricity. Here the father no longer has an answer. Rather he replies that generators somehow turn to produce electricity but a deeper explanation he can not give.

Here the boy stops, at least for a while, knowing that generators produce electricity, but he knows not how. That is until he goes to physics class and there the teacher teaches how the magnetic variations produced by rotors rotating at given speeds induce electricity into the wire and this electricity can be transported by wires to remote places.

At this point he understands deeper than his father the essence of electricity but he knows not exactly how it works, rather that it is the nature of magnetic fields to create electric charges.

It is not until he reaches college that he studies electricity on a deeper level and learns about the molecular structure of the atom and how each piece works.

His depth of understanding becomes even deeper but still there are things that even he on his deep level can not understand and therefore when someone asks him why the molecular structure is such, he will answer that it is nature.

Nature therefore is when we stop and can not provide a logical explanation other than this is the way it is and we do not know why it is this way.


One of the Hebrew names of God, Elohim, is said to equal in gematria the Hebrew work HaTeva, meaning 'the nature'. (Gematria is the use of the numerical equivalents of Hebrew words that by adding up the numerical equivalent of the letters and arriving at the numerical sum of the word which sheds some hidden light on the meaning of the word in question.)

Elohim is the name of God that was used for creating the world; it does not describe the essence of God but rather the hidden-ness of His essence.

When God created the world He did it in a manner that we should not be able to perceive Him in the world. To perceive God in the world takes much effort and contemplation since God uses the nature to hide Himself from us.

That is why nature is not God, yet nature is bound up in God in a manner so hidden that it can never truly be revealed.


from the May 2014 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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