Swimming in God

In this week’s Thursday Theology post I want to share with you a video that utilises an excellent metaphor for the omnipresence of God. Many of you will know that I am drawn to the view of God known as panentheism, which means that all of creation exists in God. The idea that God is everywhere, and the idea that everything exists within God, are complementary concepts.

The video I’d like to share was brought to my attention by Dinos who is a regular reader of, and contributor to, this blog. Thank you Dinos. The video is hosted on the Jewish ‘Chabad’ website, and is narrated by David Sacks. Please take a couple of minutes to watch the video, and feel free to leave your reflections in the comments below.

Click here to watch the video!

In case you aren’t able to watch the video for some reason, I have typed out a transcript below.

I once imagined a conversation between two fish. One says to the other, ‘Do you believe in water?’ The other says, ‘I don’t know if I believe in water. My grandfather was very religious. He believed in water.’ Meanwhile, the only thing that’s going on around them is water! So it is with us and God. God is all around us. We are completely saturated by His presence. And yet, precisely because He’s absolutely everywhere, like the fish in water, we philosophise and wonder if He even exists!

In English we have an expression which perfectly describes this phenomenon; it’s called hiding in plain sight. I was once having lunch with a friend of mine, and I asked him, ‘Where did you park your car?’ He said, ‘Across the street.’ I said, ‘Do you realise you can’t walk to your car without swimming through God?’

Do you understand what’s going on here? God is absolutely everywhere, and yet it’s possible not to see Him at all.


To delve deeper into the the idea that God is omnipresent, and the implications of this perspective for theology, check out my book entitled ‘Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion’. For more info or to buy the book, click here.

12 comments

  1. Thanks Steven. Yes, God is everywhere and in everything–the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. We want to “seek God” in a wonderful sunset or a beautiful waterfall and rainbow scene, but we also need to remember that God is present in our pain, our hurt and even in our disbelief.

  2. What a simple yet profound analogy for the presence of God! I love the video. Although all analogies break down somewhere, what this one shows is that the flora and fauna are not the water (pantheism), but are IN the water (panentheism). It’s also not some distant god of deism, He is present everywhere and every moment. Without the ubiquitous water we could not continue to exist. This is also analogous to the metaphysics of idealism. Consciousness is not in our brain, we are in consciousness (mind of God).

  3. I think that it is true that God is metaphysically everywhere — In Him we live and move and have our being — but that is different from having a personal relationship with Him. We are moral agents, and have alienated ourselves from God, and as a result we rarely if ever feel His presence with us. Reconciliation through the blood of the cross must come first, and then we can enter into a real person-to-Person relationship with Him.

  4. The video gives a fine, nicely succinct presentation of what I understand to be a basic truth–namely, that God is everywhere. I am not so philosophically aware as to have a sense of how this truth is worked out in various methods and systems of thought (panentheism being one of them, I presume). I’m rather content to have been inspired by the notion that I’m “swimming through God” when I walk to my vehicle!

  5. Hi Steven!

    I enjoyed some of the comments and it feels as though most people have responded favourably to the short video.

    People can still deny that God is available to all but this requires a less obvious interpretation of the passages:

    New International Version
    Acts 17:28
    ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    Job 12:10
    In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?

    My understanding of Panentheism is that God encompasses everything that is within our Universe (or every Multiverse) and beyond and I agree with Mel Wild that humanity’s consciousness exists within God’s consciousness and is in no way separate, even though we may think it is.

    Peace and love to all,

    Dinos

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