"What God is, and what God does"

A college student once asked a Christian Science practitioner a little impatiently, "Why can't you define God properly, the way we define everything else? Just start with the fundamentals: 1... 2... 3.... Then everyone can get hold of it." After a little thought the practitioner asked in reply, "Wouldn't that be rather like trying to computerize the sunrise?"

This is the age of computers. We want to tabulate everything. But a surprising number of important everyday things refuse to be converted into holes on a card. Take the sunrise, for example. We can measure elements like light, heat, and even color and feed them into the computer. But where does a quality like grandeur come in? And what kind of sunrise could there be without it? If someone who had never seen a sunrise tried to reconstruct it from the information on the card, what sort of impression would he get?

Then take men themselves. We can measure their height and weight, give them intelligence quotients, and classify them according to age groups and wage groups. But what about the way they smile? And can we just leave out imponderables such as compassion, dignity, nobility? Again, what sort of impression of man would anyone get if statistics were his only source of information?

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Supply and Completeness
September 6, 1969

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