Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Man Behind the Curtain

Which God do you pray to? Is it a jealous and angry anthropomorphic God or a God of transcendent love and the source of infinite creative energy? Is it neither, both, or other? Or do you choose not to pray. Regardless of your answers everyone should consider the characteristics of your view of God. I know Atheists have and they've rejected God partly because of some of these characteristics.

If you're a Christian and you actually sat through that entire video, pat yourself on the back. Did you pick up on the key words he used to describe God? Old Testament God. Today I'm going to play devil's advocate so that we can understand why some Atheists are so against God, or at least the Old Testament God. Just watch it again and listen to a few of the characteristics Mr. Condell uses to describe God. Is he taking certain characteristics of the biblical God out of context while misinterpreting other traits like justice as violence? Some Christians would think so but that doesn't get to the root of the problem. The problem is God's portrayal in the Old Testament; it's too anthropomorphic to be God, unless of course, God is some sort of Exalted Man, then our monotheistic faiths would make perfect sense.

I don't believe that God's true nature can be the same as the God of the Old Testament. He is jealous, angry, vengeful, demands worship, the list goes on and on. Why for example would the Creator of the Universe command us to love him? Love Me or burn.
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Why would God have ANY of these attributes in the first place, unless we are grossly mistaken on the origins of these attributes? I can't see what the people of Egypt did to deserve the plagues caused by Pharaoh's hardened heart in Exodus. Well, maybe he punished them for loving other gods. So why does the God of the Old Testament seem like a "violent manic"? Maybe it's because man created God in his own image except beefed up with the ability to fry whole cities of sexual deviants. The Bible was written, edited, and transmitted by man so how could the God of the Bible avoid being anthropomorphized?

This is not to say that the Bible loses its worth because it was written by man. Not only is it a beautiful literary work it does have gems of truth scattered among its pages. Digging out these gems also does not mean we are creating our own God but revealing the Divine by removing that which reflects man's character. But even our best attempts as fallible creatures could not describe the Divine which can only be personally experienced as we fumble for words to describe that experience. What bugs Atheists is that it seems incredible primitive to worship such an irresponsible child-like god and then encourage others to do likewise. Christians can then say, "but wait, he's not cruel at all but loving. He sent his son to die for us." And of course the obvious response would be that OT God is still cruel BECAUSE he demands blood, no, human sacrifice to reconcile humanity to himself.

I'm not saying that OT God IS a violent manic but I can understand how he may come across that way. I mean, we are talking about how a specific people, the Israelites, viewed God thousands of years ago; must we continue to cling to this same image of God? Would it hinder or help us to change how we view God, or is change even allowed? I believe that if change leads us to progress and unity then why not view God as ABOVE AND BEYOND jealousy, anger, and vengeance. Atheist would call to remove God altogether but what have they offered in replacement? If humanity is as stupid as Mr. Condell describes then he should know that we can't quit cold turkey. Science and Reason is great for the enlightened man but what about poor Fiki in Indonesia? If we cling to the supernatural because of our "primitive" minds how can the common man comprehend Science and Reason? Should not Atheist seek first to educate and illuminate mankind rather than look down at the common man for clinging to Bronze Age beliefs about the universe? Religion gives strength to the common man who may not YET comprehend a life without the Divine and this is why I believe religion in some form will be with mankind for quite a while. God is not going anywhere but the questions on how we view him must be embraced for humanity to progress. I don't believe mankind is ready to progress without reliance on the Divine but at least some of us are strong enough to question that dependence. Questioning the sacred and the wisdom gained from it is vital to us regardless of the answer. I am not calling for a departure from God but a search for wisdom and understanding between the mortal and the Divine.

What are we afraid of?

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