1. “Is there or isn’t there a God?”
2. “Is my god the True God or is yours?”
These debates are entirely based on one’s definition of the word “God.” So, shouldn’t we be a little more focused on the question as to what is God???
People define God in different ways, and then we call those different definitions “different gods”… but they are not. They are different definitions of God. Different interpretations of God. Different personifications of God – or a decision not to personify the force behind evolution.
That’s why religious debates don’t get anywhere – they have become identity battles that disregard the linguistics they are based on.
Why do religions still claim to know the “real God” and that everyone else has been deceived into believing in “fake gods”? Why do atheists debate that “there is no God” rather than explaining to theists that they are simply choosing not to personify the force behind evolution while accepting that some people prefers a more personal construct? Does not a rose by any other name still smell as sweet?
I don’t think any religions still believe God is a super human-like man sitting above the clouds. We know how big the universe is. We know the mountains don’t hold up the sky and we know that angels aren’t moving our sun, moon and stars into their place at night. Religions imagine God as a transcendent being that is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (present everywhere) – so might we consider the physics of such a claim… is it not a cause to consider quantum physics and what that might be telling us about the “mind of God”???
Sure, we are not useless consequences of some set random manifestations reacting to other random manifestations of a single particle of matter, which appeared from nowhere. But nor are we hand designed by a super-human who lives above us reading our every thought and watching our every move, awaiting the day he or she wishes to bring us into his realm or cut the rope, destroy life on earth and reward “His” chosen people with eternal life in heaven – simply based on the background of the family one was born into. This concept no longer makes sense in my mind anyway.
Something greater than us exists. There is something more than what we see. We are a tiny little component of a fantastical, expanding, creative universe. The ultimate unexplainable creative force behind the evolution of life; the energetic force that caused the first cell to split into two; the power behind and inside everything that exists, and everything that doesn’t… the power we can label The Universe, or as has been done throughout history we can personify as God, Allah, Dios, YHWH, the great “I Am”, Krishna, Bhagwan, Zeus etc. etc… is quite an incredible power, and almost just as incredible is our ability to be conscious of this force, to be aware of it, to be in awe of it. I don’t see anything wrong with personifying this force differently depending on our understanding of ourselves in a culture and at different points history, but essentially (and quite obviously no?) we are personifying the same force. The Jewish name YHWH, which means I AM, makes a lot more sense than most definitions. There is what there is, and that is God, that is The Universe.
I speak of “God” and I speak of “The Universe”, depending on my mood. I still pray. I still speak to “God” and I understand that the “person” I speak to is my personification of an abstract unknowable force, and I’m ok with that. In fact I even see some value in it, a personal interface to an abstract energy.
“My religion has done some good, so can’t we just forget the murderous bad it’s done these last couple of millennia?” Forgiveness is one thing but I’m not so sure the Inquisitions, the Crusades and the myriad “missions” imposed on indigenous peoples around the world are not exactly easy to forget.
But what is most important is the future: is a religion causing good today, or is it still a source of violence? If a religion can see itself in its historical perspective, and not make exclusivist claims over their particular personification of God or about their particular interpretations of physical and spiritual realms; and if they can avoid using their connection with people’s identity as a cause for destruction – they can be a cause for good. But if this perspective can’t be found then maybe the atheists are right… maybe it is better for religion to end. It all comes down to the clarity from which a religion can bring, to one’s creative purpose in life. Can religion be a force for good? Maybe.
Coming back to those debates:
1. “Is there or isn’t there a God?” Yes AND No. Yes if you personify the energy behind life, and no if you prefer to refer to it in a scientific, abstract form.
2. “My God or your god?” Mine AND Yours. Surely we can accept the cultural roots of different personifications developed throughout history, and understand that they were “right” and “true” in their day, and that there is something to learn from all of them.
Can someone please explain to me why, when the human mind is capable of thinking through these questions logically and we know these debates are based on a loaded word that is not properly understood, are we still debating them?
Isn’t it time to look for the meaning of our evolution, the meaning of our place in this universe, the meaning of our connection to “God”, our connection to What Is? To look at how this impacts on our lives today, and how it can provide a positive impact on our lives in the future?
I think these are more important questions that would be much more beneficial to society than illogical ego-driven debates over identity… but what do I know 🙂