This post first appeared in the Christianity for Life blog.
Life as a Christian requires faith, and sometimes our faith is challenged because we see life through the lens of human experience. We expect miracles from God. Not necessarily the biblical kind, but the simple miracles of intervention in our everyday affairs. Answered prayer. Blessings. A personal touch. But getting our heads around how God could be capable of dealing with us on such a personal level requires faith indeed.
How could God possibly be dealing with me when he’s talking to you? How can God be paying attention to the operation of the universe while he’s listening to all of us humans, all at once?
To address this question I’m going to draw from a chapter of my book, Something to Believe In, (which I wrote a few years back, sold about three copies, and then withdrew from publication for a rewrite. I’ll get to that rewrite one of these days, but in the meantime the book still supplies me with blogging material here and there).
In the book I pondered how God could possibly accomplish all of the activity we attribute to Him. He must be the ultimate multitasker! Here’s what I wrote back then (with today’s comments added in italics)…
…I used to have trouble with this concept (God as a multitasker) until I became a computer programmer. In the 80’s and 90’s I designed software for the giant mainframe computers used by governments for such high-volume tasks as processing income tax returns and government benefit claims. During that period I became intimately familiar with the monolithic mainframe “brain” that could perform millions of instructions in less than a second. Imagine that. In the time it takes you to say the word “second” out loud, a computer could do millions of separate calculations.
The first mainframe computer I worked with occupied an entire floor of a large office building and had to be delivered to the roof of the building by a heavy-lift helicopter. It had 8 kilobytes of memory. That’s 8,192 bytes. And it could perform about 2 million instructions per second. The computer I’m using to write this book is a laptop with 4 gigabytes of memory. That’s 4,295,000,000 bytes! And it can perform about 60,000 million instructions per second. That’s 60 billion instructions per second!
Computers today have tremendous processing power and can perform many, many tasks in such a short period of time that they seem to be happening all at once.
Do you have a global positioning system, a GPS, for your car? Most new cars these days have one and there’s one in my IPhone. There must be millions of them throughout the world seemingly all operating at once! Are there millions of GPS satellites circling the earth? No, there are about 31. But they have incredibly powerful computer processors on board that can simultaneously deal with all the GPS devices on earth! That’s a lot of processing power. And I’ll bet that since the day I wrote this, computing power has increased even more! (Ha, really?)
But so far, none of the computers that mankind has invented comes anywhere close to the amazing processing power of the brain.
The insect brain, that is. (I used, ‘mouse brain’ in the book)
The brains that God’s creatures have been given are truly amazing. Even insects have incredible processing power.
I used to pilot a small Cessna 150 aircraft. While flying I needed to be aware of my altitude and proximity to other aircraft, my airspeed, the wind velocity and direction, the weather, how much power to apply, the position of flaps, ailerons and rudder to ensure lift, and navigation, trim etc. all in three dimensions. That’s a lot to keep track of and it requires a human brain to process all the information rapidly enough to make sure the aircraft doesn’t plow into a mountain or bury itself in the tarmac on landing! Large airliners are of course significantly more complex to operate.
To help fly large aircraft we’ve developed sophisticated computers to function as autopilots and they work quite well to maintain level flight and keep the aircraft on course. But when the going gets tough due to weather or some other factor, human pilots must intervene by applying their incredible brains to the operation of the aircraft. Even at that, have you ever watched a fixed-wing aircraft come in to land on a windy day? The wings are pitching from side to side; the pilot is making constant corrections for wind direction, sometimes bringing the plane in almost sideways to maintain course for a quick pivot at the last minute before the landing gear hits the tarmac. If not for the amazing skill of the pilot it could be a precarious situation!
Flying requires a lot of processing power.
Now think about a housefly. Here is an insect that doesn’t even have a brain as we know it, just a cluster of nerves that function as a small computer processor. So when you see a fly buzzing around in three dimensions at high speed, avoiding all obstacles and landing anywhere in an instant with mind-boggling precision regardless of wind speed, think about the processing power it takes to operate that incredible flying machine!
You see where I’m going with this? My laptop processes 60 billion instructions per second. Many insects can beat that. Your brain handles infinitely more. So imagine the processing power of the God that created the universe. Do you think the God of the universe can deal with 7 billion humans? A piece of cake.
God isn’t human, he is all-powerful and beyond our comprehension and he is up to the job. (…end of book excerpt)
So the next time you hesitate to ask God for His attention because He might not have time for your trivial concerns, just remember – a piece of cake!
Next time I’ll write about time travel with God.
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