There are only two ways to view the "universe and everything." Each viewpoint must face The Big Questions:
1. Where do we come from?
2. Is there a point to our lives and our struggles and sufferings?
3. What happens to us when we die?
The Two Views:
1. The background state of everything is lifeless: The universe and everything is comprised of lifeless matter or energy. Somehow it all came into existence at the Big Bang and what existed before that is unknown, but whatever it was, it is lifeless. Somehow within that lifeless universe we must come up with an explanation of how life and consciousness come to be, then we must deal with The Big Questions.
2. The background state of everything is Life: The "universe and everything" exists within a background of Life. Eternal life exists beyond time and space, has always been and will always be. Time and space themselves are constructs that only exist temporarily within this Life. This Life is called God. He is a creator and so, in accordance to our normal experience of this world, Life creates everything else. That is what we see around us all the time. Living beings create and manipulate non-living matter and energy. In this respect, viewpoint 2 is actually more consistent with reality.
Within this viewpoint we can easily handle The Big Questions, but must also face The Biggest Question: Who is this Life - this God? What can we know about him? Can we know her personally? Does she have a name? What is he like?
This is historically handled in at least three ways.
1. By what we see around us. As we can know Beethoven by listening to his music, we can discern God by our observations of the universe and all of creation.
2. By our relationships with one another. As we all share in the ultimate source of life, we must all reflect in some small way the nature of our Creator Being.
3. By revelation. Anytime this Being interacts and communicats with us we have a chance to discover his nature. Sometimes these interactions are recorded for posterity as in the documents collected in the bible.