Sunday, 18 November 2012

Therefore (my interpretation) of god

I often mock Christian ‘logic’ for continually jumping to the conclusion “therefore God,” regardless of where they start their line of reasoning.  But on the subject of specifically addressing the question of god’s existence or non-existence, we have to remember that they are not referring to an abstract notion of god, even when that is what they claim to be talking about.  Rather, they always have in mind their own specific Christian version of god.  The same is true of Muslims and Jews when they argue for the existence of god. 
                To me, this is the most insidious marketing tactic of the religions; a sort of bait and switch.  They know it is far easier to convince someone to first believe in an abstract creator of the universe and then simply inform them that this creator is synonymous with their own brand of mythical deity, than it is to introduce someone to a PR appropriate version of their tiny tribal middle-eastern deity that is in fact just as arrogant, capricious, petty, vengeful, jealous, violent and all-around flawed and morally repugnant as any character from the Grecian pantheon and propose that this fairy tale character is actually the progenitor and director of all existence.
                It is easy to understand how the wonder of the universe could easily inspire belief in an all powerful creator.  Indeed, the very characteristics of intelligence that make us human may also predispose us to such belief.  The real danger, the real insult to intelligence and reason, lies in the uncalled for leap from acceptance of the possibility of a generative force behind the universe to submission of one’s life to an anthropomorphic character conjured from the minds of primitives who knew nothing of the scope of the universe and our insignificant place in it.  The god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of the Jews and Muslims and Christians, was never a god of the universe, but of a tiny speck of humanity.  It was only over time and by historical accident that as humanity began first discovering the world we began to conceive of the notion of god as ruling over more than just the tribe or the nation, but over all of humanity, knocking off lesser competitors along the way.  Finally as we discovered the universe beyond our world, we leapt to the assumption that the winning deity in vogue at that time, who so happens to be the Abrahamic god, must be the one responsible for it all.  The concept of god has evolved from a purely local concern to a global and finally a universal concern just as society has evolved in its outlook.  If circumstances had been different, it might have been Taranis or Zeus that could have evolved into the one true god responsible for the entire universe and whose myths we would now be reinterpreting to fit into the concept of a universe creating divine force rather than just a local terrestrial god.
                What is ironic is that even though being a big god of the entire universe seems to be a prerequisite for being accepted as a legitimate deity these days, what many people – principally conservatives - seem to actually want is a local deity concerned with their local concerns.  For them, their focus is on the here and now and their place in it all.  The god they deal with on a day to day basis who is comforting them and their families through tough times and uniting communities is really just a small god; a shared imaginary friend and personal guardian angel on whom they heap their wishes and worries.  That is all they really want or need, and there are virtually hundreds of various deities that have been honoured through the ages that have filled that role and still could and often do in other cultures.  It would probably make things a great deal easier for these people if they could just go back to that smaller god who loved them, but hated their enemies, who was theirs alone and not the god of other nations.  But because our collective understanding of what ‘god’ is has come to require omnipotence and omnibenevolence it has become necessary to reconcile this with their desire for a local deity who favors them by appealing to such concepts as being a chosen people or nation or religion.
                Conversely, those of a liberal bent tend to desire a more universal god who is concerned with all of humanity and will seek to distance themselves from the smaller more anthropomorphic and culturally limited deity and focus instead on interpreting the Abrahamic god to fit into the philosophically determined conception of a perfect being.  Some have even moved to a belief of a more universal god beyond religious interpretations and often retain only a tenuous and superficial link between their conception of god and the Abrahamic deity.
                What boggles the mind is how few take a step back and realize what they are doing in fabricating a version of a god for their own personal use.  Though they will deny it, they are each making their own personal idol, their own totem that suits them and their communities and ideals that reflects the god they want.  When they claim a personal relationship with god, what they are really saying is that they have invented their own personal god in their own image as a proxy for their own ego.