The concept of creation is so boundlessly vast that one utterly despairs of comprehending it in mere human, physical and temporal terms. All of us who studied science were raised with the idea that it is not possible to create something out of nothing, and therefore, the idea of creation has always been understood to be the formation of matter from other matter, or the generation of some form of tangible energy from matter or from another form of energy. Not to mention the “immutability” of the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy.
So what, if anything, is the Prime Element from which God created the Universe?
Once the Primordial Atom was There, the Big Bang almost explains itself. After all, what else could conceivably happen to the Primordial Atom other than the Big Bang? If this sounds like crass intellectual hubris, forgive me.
But (and this seems to be right on the thin line between the Unknown and the Unknowable) where did the Primordial Atom come from? How did He make It happen?
When I was a little boy (and often even later on, due to the sheer enjoyment that it provided) I loved to read, among other things, Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So Stories for Children, which, like all truly great fiction for the young, is ultimately for the adult, as it contains several profound truths that you go back to with a wonderfully renewed understanding when you are older.
My favourite story was The Elephant’s Child, which was set in a distantly bygone age (as per Kipling) when the Elephant had no trunk, but just a little “button-nose” like anybody else. And the Elephant’s Child was full of ” ‘Satiable Curiosity ” , which, as the name suggests (“insatiable”, really), was never ever satisfied. And he was spanked by all his relatives for asking the most embarrassing and awkward questions – to which, needless to say, they had no answers. So they spanked and spanked him harder and harder out of frustrated annoyance and an acute sense of their own mignorance, and this only made him persist in asking all those questions of his, and all because he was so full of ” ‘Satiable Curiosity “. (Incidentally, and most delightfully, he lived in Africa, and his relatives consisted of “his Broad Aunt, the Hippopotamus”, and “his Hairy Uncle, the Baboon”, not to mention several other spanking [pun intended] adults!).
Now, one fine morning, the Elephant’s Child awoke with a brand-new question, which he put forthwith to all his “Dear Relatives”, and for which he consequently got from each of them a harder spanking than usual. The question was: “What does the Crocodile Have for Dinner?”.
To cut a terrific story short, he eventually meets the Crocodile at the banks of “the great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees” (interestingly, my wife actually visited this area and saw the river and has taken photographs on her recent vacation in Africa). The Crocodile, lurking in the murky waters of the great river, is earnestly asked the question by our dear seeker-after-knowledge, and in benevolent response, tries to eat him by catching hold of his nose and pulling him into the river, but the Bi-Coloured Python Rock Snake lazing on the banks of the Limpopo comes to his rescue, wrapping himself round the Child’s middle, and they both pull back desperately. Eventually, the Elephant’s Child escapes with his life as Crocodile’s grip on his nose is loosened, and is lying exhausted on the banks of the Limpopo River.
He then discovers that his button-nose has grown into a long, long nose (because of the tug-ofwar, of course) and further finds to his delight that he can use it to ward off or swat all those flies that had been so bothering him. He could also easily eat all those delicious bananas with his new long “nose”. And, most gratifying of all, the attitude of all his “Dear Relatives” towards him and his ‘satiable curiosity undergoes a sea change for the better!
The way I see it is: The Elephant’s Child is humankind, and humankind is full of ” ‘satiable curiosity “. It is inevitable that we should ask fundamental questions to which the answers are not easily forthcoming. Our curiosity about Creation is an essential part of Creation itself. The Great Mystery is that our natural curiosity need not, and necessarily must not, always be fully satisfied. So is it ordained. However, since we are all Elephant’s Children, we all have ” ‘satiable curiosity”. Significantly, we shall keep on and on asking the Great Questions, despite being spanked and cuffed and beaten again and again, with the innate and unflinching conviction that we shall be rewarded at last with a Truth that envelopes us with the most radiant enlightenment.
Going further still, the ultimate reward for us persistent Question-Askers is not the direct answers to their questions, as we may sometimes naively expect. If this sounds crazy, let me explain.The ultimate reward is the sense of serenity and peace that comes upon human beings when they realise that some questions can never be answered, and so submit in total surrender to His Divine Will. The beautiful paradox here is that we cannot achieve this state of acceptance to the non-answerability of our questions unless we persistently and passionately ask these questions in the first place.
But once we achieve this state, we instinctively know which are the questions that we should not ask.
Dear Rudyard, we are all your Elephant’s Children, and not for nothing.