Monday, April 22, 2013

The Tree of Being

There is theology that says if God were to stop loving you or thinking of you for one instant, you would cease to exist. This is difficult to comprehend since we may think of God as puppet maker, and we His puppets.

A puppet maker will make a puppet (or a clay man) and do what he wishes with it. If he leaves it alone and forgets it, the puppet surly continues to exist, although it may be rather unanimated. This kind of thinking is based on human imagination, and the limits of our imagination impose limits to reality which are not really there, for God is being itself and continually holds everything in existence; makes sense considering He calls Himself “I AM” (see Exodus 3:14).

Analogies are most helpful…
When you stand in front of a mirror, what do you see? You see your image & likeness. If you leave the mirror even for an instant, what happens to your image & likeness? It ceases to exist! You “being” in front of the mirror continually holds your image & likeness in existence.

Fr. Spitzer gives a more complete analogy in his book “New Proofs for the Existence of God” with something called the Tree of Being. The Tree of Being relates to the more formal concept of Simplicity. What is simpler (or less restricted) is more capable of being in unity with what is more complex (more restricted) and God is infinitely simple. How can God be “simple” and how can something simpler help hold something more complex in existence? Just think of a cat.

Ø  What makes a cat act like a cat?
Its cells; if the cat’s cells stopped acting like cells, the cat can’t really be a cat and would cease to exist.

Ø  What makes the cells act like cells?
The molecules; if the molecules stopped acting like molecules, the cells can’t really be cells and they would cease exists.

Ø  What makes the molecules act like molecules?
The atoms; if the atoms stopped acting like atoms, the molecules can’t really be molecules and they would cease to exist.

And so it goes…
Ø  What makes the atoms act like atoms? The protons.

Ø  What makes protons act like protons? Quarks.

Ø  What makes quarks act like quarks? The most fundamental conditions (time? space? energy?)

Ø  What makes the most fundamental conditions act like the most fundamental conditions? A unifying field (UFT)?

Ø  What would make a unifying field act like a unifying field, and where does this end?!

It ends at the top of the Tree of Being. Logic demands that it end with one thing that needs nothing else to “act” for its own existence; one unconditioned reality that would be infinitely simple, and therefore completely unrestricted, and therefore unifying in all things.

It is said that God has “no parts” when referring to His simplicity. If there are no parts, then nothing can be added or taken away, not even knowledge, power or love.

God is at the top of the Tree of Being and if He were to stop “acting” with regard to us, we could not be. God acts through His will and intellect and the action of the will is “to love” and the action of the intellect “to know”. So as we said on the onset, if God were to stop loving you or thinking of you for one instant, you would cease to exist. If God stops acting (loving/knowing), we stop being.

Given all this, it should come to no surprise that humans seek things that are simple, unifying and ordered to their proper end like love, truth, goodness and beauty; all these things flow down from the top of the tree. We seek well-being and so we journey on in hope, focused on the tree top, moving towards the oneness and simplicity of God. As we journey we can take confidence that His being is with us, continually holding us and constantly sustaining us. For it is written…“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).



  1. " if God were to stop loving you or thinking of you for one instant, you would cease to exist. If God stops acting (loving/knowing), we stop being."

    I would think it makes sense to say then that God never stops thinking or loving any of us, even if we are condemned to hell. The immortality of our souls proves this does it not?

    Thanks Ben

    1. Very true. God NOT acting like God (knowing & loving) would be a contradiction. The idea is only imaginary to help us understand our own existence. Take care.

  2. Very beautiful article! It's very good to know that God is thinking and loving everyone of us all the time. Knowing that He will never abandon us all the time makes me feel safe and secure--and he promised us that.. "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Thank you for sharing this!

    1. You’re welcome! An awareness of God being with us at ALL times is something contemplative. If interested, you’ll find more about this under the “contemplative” blog tag on the left. Take care.

  3. Another interesting aspect of this is the following:

    Jeremiah 1:5
    5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

    Here is an interesting question, to me at least :) If God knows us before we are formed in the womb, are our souls already pre-existing then? At what point are they created as opposed to when a soul is instilled into an actually person that has just been conceived?