The Ant God

I looked down at a swarm of ants, scurrying rapidly around an old rotted tree stump,
Thousands of them, scuttling in every direction, as if it were pay-day.
Like little speeding bullets, their motion was highly complex, and seemingly random.

They paused only momentarily to interact with their little feelers with one another, before rushing on their way, as if they had somewhere important to go.

It appeared to be mating season, so there were occasional little prince ants, climbing out from the fray, and managing to beat their wings into flight. I’m not sure if the other ants were helping or hindering them, the way they clung on to each other.

I’d recently learned the English word “perfunctory”: “done merely to discharge a duty; performed mechanically and as a thing of rote; done in a careless and superficial manner; characterised by indifference; aspiring only to minimum standards” – I wondered what it meant to them.

“Perfunctory!” I shouted out at the bunch of them, and I paused to watch their reaction. I’m not sure if there were any errors in my experiment; perhaps I should have prolonged the vowels or elevated the pitch of my voice.
Alas, nothing. They just kept scurrying on as if I were not there.

I wondered if they believed in an Ant God, or Gods. Perhaps they do, and perhaps they call them “humans”. I wondered if, in those minuscule interactions with each other with their feelers, if they have little “arguments” amongst each other, about whether or not the Ant Gods exist:

“But I’ve never seen an Ant God. How could you expect me to believe in something I’ve never seen?”

“But how can you prove there’s an Ant God? Ant science can’t prove or disprove the existence of Ant Gods”

“Sure we don’t see humans, but we see the effects of humans; I once bumped into a strange ant from a colony just far far away from here, maybe thirty metres — he claimed that they once encountered a random bounty of food lying on the ground – more food than you could ever imagine! Is it really possible that this would appear ‘just by chance’?”

“That just sounds like a convoluted version of the old queen bee jelly legend to me…”

And so perhaps they would reason, with their tiny little brains, and tiny little, limited amounts of information.

So I thought to myself, perhaps I could stomp with my foot on a whole bunch of them – slay them, kill them, squash them! – to announce my presence as a superior being, one of their Ant Gods. I could squash maybe fifty of them with one stomp, and watch them suffer.

And I thought… Would they comprehend me then? Would they then know that there are indeed humans, that they are powerful, and that they are in control, and that we have merely allowed the ants to continue to exist, to continue to thrive on our earth?

But I reasoned within myself: it’s unlikely that they would understand this as an act of the Ant God. I’m quite sure they could interpret that as a natural disaster, after all it did rain that one time and ruin their colony; how would this be any different? — indeed, humans are a part of nature.

And so I went on to ponder; is there anything that I could do to announce my presence that would result in the ants comprehending me?

Understand my complexity?
Understand my philosophies?
Understand my language?
Understand the internal combustion engine?
Understand that neutrinos pervade the universe?

No. They are simply incapable of understanding.
And so it is.

And each of us humans are little ants too, on a little planet called earth.
—  Our scale is not terribly different from theirs.

But Allah, Jahweh, Zeus or the true Ant God… If there indeed is a God…

Our models of him / her / it could be utterly inadequate.
Our understanding of God could be as flawed as the ants’ understanding of humans.

It could be a mere shadow, a mere projection onto a lower dimension of understanding.

— A mere approximation of whatever God really is.

And thus I wondered, in my sincerest self, whether we are even capable of understanding God, if God does exist.
Is there a chance that God transcends our mortal understanding? Who would we be to presume we understand God?

And so in my mind I sort of questioned the two major extremes of religiosity;

Atheism: for not acknowledging our true limits of understanding
Theism: for not acknowledging our true limits of understanding

And so I wondered an interesting thought:

“I don’t know, what if we are all wrong?”

And we are all just little ants, scurrying about for things that are utterly inconsequential?
—  “Well that would make sense”

… But it was so much more comfortable to think that I understood the Ant God, or that it’s just not there.

5 Comments

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  2. Shawn

    “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy, playing on the seashore, and diverting myself, in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me” Isaac newton

    Reply
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