GOD? or MOD (Man Orchestrated Divinity)?

Posted on May 28, 2011

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Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

 –Epicurus 

So said Epicurus, and you cannot argue that he is completely lacking of a valid point. However, I will take the reasoning that God made man with freedom of will and while that brought about traits both good and evil and many imperfections, he has not yet lost his faith in man and is giving us a chance to straighten ourselves out. I will also tell you that this is not about god, but his followers.

It all started when I was rushing to catch a bus, and just outside Albert Park in Auckland, a well-dressed, nice looking Korean gentleman and his daughter intercepted me. He proceeded to tell me how he would like to give me a gift, to which I, being very appreciative of the stranger’s offer, responded by asking what this gift was. Then he took out the Bible, told me he would like to give me the gift of love and peace and God and despite my insistence that I had a bus to catch which God would not delay for me, proceeded to read it, starting from genesis 1:1. To my further insistence, he asked me why I didn’t want to listen, for this was the truth, and without it I will not be saved. When I asked him why he thought it was the truth, he responded “because it is written in the bible!” But the bible was written! By somebody with a quill, who wrote down what has hitherto been passed by word of mouth. And the words and mouths of men at that! You know, those imperfect beings that, having free will, can never seem to pass on a message to another, down several generations, without adding or subtracting or multiplying a few things for added effect, or due to forgetfulness.

It has been translated into several languages from Aramaic (e.g.: first to Latin, then English under King James, and then possibly to Korean in this case), and on each occasion, there would have been bits and pieces that could not be translated exactly. Finally, the guy at the print shop doing the proof reading can easily add a few ‘not’s and take some others out to flip the meaning of a few things before it went to print. The person who buys this book from the bookshop would, given that it is a massive book, be none the wiser. If his (the Korean dude’s) particular book had any of those errors, which it may have, how can he point to it and say it is the truth? He wouldn’t have a clue! I started to point this out to him, but then realised how late I was and bolted.  What it did was to highlight a few things that had bugged me for a while.

Either man made God, or God made man. Whatever you believe, what you cannot deny is that in order to worship him man has brought God down to man’s own image, with his needs, and with his imperfections.

For an example, some followers whether they be adherents to one of the many Christian sects or the faithful of Allah, would say that the only correct path to God is the one that they follow. Really? if God was God, truly divine, all knowing and all powerful, would he (I use the term ‘he’ loosely) not understand that when they pray to Jehovah, they are referring to him, and that when they pray to Allah, they are also referring to him? Would he be as fussy as to the exact method in which he is worshiped and not be able to see through the superficial gestures and rituals to the devotion that the adherents have in their hearts for him? Would he not realise that he made man imperfect and while they cannot read his mind as to how he likes to be worshipped or indeed if he does at all, they are worshipping him and passing down his teachings in such a way because they think that it is the correct way and not to smite? Would he really care? Would God, being God, not be beyond all this human fussiness.

So would he care what you call him or how you worship him, because being the almighty God he would know it is for him that you are devoted. It is not him that is so fussy, it is his followers, and possibly through their own insecurity and doubt as to whether they are doing this the ‘right way’. Is it to suppress these doubts and convince themselves that they are the ones doing it right, that they put down and denounce all the others? So really, it has nothing to do with God, but his followers, and a lot of God’s demands and laws are projections of the followers own insecurities, imperfections and views.

I have nothing against the Bible or the Quran, and have read parts of them both. I have not read either fully as, they are both, but especially the Quran, very complex to read and require an extreme focus and patience to not just read and understand in literal terms but also figure out the interpretations and the concepts that are implied metaphorically. I do not have the patience to read a 300 page novel without flipping to the last page (I have not read any Harry Potter book) and the last novel I read was Flashman, back in 2004. I am no scholar and was simply unable to put myself through either book, without becoming mentally exhausted. But I did try, and have researched much about them, and I admire them both. The problem however is their very complexity. They were written in an age when so few people were literate, and those that were, were normally the great scholars of the time, who had the intellectual capacity to understand the meaning of the written words and the messages implied between the lines. They could read into them, understand the message, then do whatever they like with that message and preach it to the masses that had no choice but to accept that version. It is no different to a new bridge: If the Engineer in charge says it is safe, you believe it as you yourself cannot ascertain if that is the truth.

The point is that the books were written to this scholarly audience, notwithstanding what they then decide to do with it. These days however, a lot more of us ordinary folk can read and easily access these books. However a lot of us lack the intellectual ability to understand the concepts in anything but literal word for word terms. Join that with the penchant to project God in human terms, which are the only terms in which we can comprehend him, you get the modern day friendly neighbourhood fanatic.

This is most evident in those that heat up the Evolution vs. intelligent design debate. You got the American Evangelists on one side denouncing Darwinism and Richard Dawkins and the Atheists on the other decrying the religious points of view (of multiple religions) on the subject with equal ferocity.  To me, there is personally no conflict between what Darwin said and what is said by the Abrahamic religions. What is said by Hinduism is put in a different light with a different focus, but that to me is also the same thing. I admit I have come from a pretty neutral standpoint, being a not very religious Buddhist and thus neither having much attachment to either school of thought nor being subjected to any long term indoctrination in either.

However, to me it’s obvious that when you look at the timescale of the events in the Bible, if you were to equate the seven days in which the world was created to the human definition of a day which we use today, and which many will not try to think beyond, it’s full of crap. But if you go beyond this, beyond the modern definition of 24 hours = 1 day down to the basic description of a day as a period of light followed by a period of darkness, it become viable that a day may have been, well several million modern years long, thanks to long periods where sun would have been blocked by dense clouds of dust, in the early days of the earth’s formation. One only needs to go to an anthropological museum to disprove that World was only 6000 years (in modern terms) old and that Man was created in his current form, and all humans are descended from two people (in 6000 years, from 2 to 7 Billion? really?). But then the Genesis says God created man in his own image, and while some people might imagine Adam and Eve prancing about Eden, totally naked, they don’t realise that nobody bothers to go into describing what this image looked like. So to me, this doesn’t say that man was ‘created’ in the sense it is implied today, or that he was ‘created’ in his modern form. It could well be as a single celled Amoeba. Join this up with a concept of time based less on modern definitions and more as a philosophical term, and evolution within a biblical concept becomes feasible.

So, personally I just can’t see what all the fuss should be about. In terms of how life was created, well, I believe in God. As in not an old white man with a white beard, but as a creating force which is eternal, which is in everything made and done, which is needed for every action and which resides in every element, which is never destroyed but is conserved. Basically, to me God is Energy, as measured in Joules. You need energy to create or destroy anything, from elemental level. It can neither be created nor destroyed itself, and it is everywhere. According to science, life was created by the application of a large surge of energy (such as a lightning bolt) to a point where the exact conditions for life to thrive existed. Therefore to me, there is no conflict. If you think of the divine as being beyond human forms and limitations, there is no reason why the spiritual and scientific schools should forever diverge.

I know that many, on either bank of the river, will take great exception to my boat trying to sail against the current. That is okay, I respect all religious views, especially given that I don’t care much for them. What is important to me is how one human choses to live his life and treat another, from whatever background they may come from. There is not much point saying you are a born again Christian and that you will ascend to heaven no matter what you have done in life because Christ has died for your sins, if you continue to commit them. The last thing religion should be is a get out of jail free card, but that is exactly what the fanatics that preach on Queen St on Friday night rambles on about, thinking it will attract people. I’m sure it does, from your friendly mugger to the village rapist, who would never bother to pay back what they took or apologise to their victims, once they have been ‘saved’. Why should they, Jesus had already absolved their sins 2000 years before they were committed, through his own suffering. Thus they have no debt to repay, nothing to feel bad about. A teacher’s message to spread peace, love and good morals have been twisted like a deer run over by a truck on an Autobahn. Nice one!

Now you see, my issue with these idiots is dark and deep,

But I got better things to do than lament and weep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

How easy is it to alter even the words of Robert Frost!

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Posted in: Life