– Why we’re never satisfied with the politicians we have elected?
– Why some of our children never seem to grow up?
– Why our weight control issues are such a problem when we already know what to do to keep the pounds off?
– Why there are so many ‘one, true religions’?
I think I’ve figured out the last one. Most religions I’ve encountered think that “god” (gods, God?) is a person. Much like us, you understand, but rather a super version that is all-everything. It wouldn’t be so bad if people just left it at that — but no, teams of individuals who are primarily interested in hierarchical power structures insist on creating and perpetuating their own version of the one true religion. And, if only all these different religions could just get along with one another without the rancour and dissension we read about in the papers regularly — not to mention the internecine strife that goes on once the religion reaches a critical mass.
I have come to understand that religion, like all great theatre, requires the suspension of disbelief for it to be successful. All religion, to my mind, is based on tradition, superstition and mythology.
Here is where my wondering (no, not wandering, although I’ve done that too) has taken me. Having started my life as a fervent Christian of the Roman Catholic persuasion, my first crisis of conscience, in my early twenties, took me into the realm of the agnostic. By this time I had read enough about my birth family’s religion, along with a few others, to admit to myself that I really didn’t know or understand the theology that had been fed to me up to that point.
Of course, after a number of years of informal study of religion of all kinds, I had to acknowledge that I probably was an atheist. On the other hand, the notion of simply being anti-theistic didn’t sit well with me. I actually wanted to be positive about my rejection of the traditional.
So, after many years of indifferently mulling this issue over, I have come to a conclusion that rather surprises me. I am, in fact, not an atheist at all. I actually do believe in “god”. Not “a god” or “the god” but in my own understanding of “god”. Now please, hold the hallelujah chorus. This may not be the revelation you think.
Some of you may know that I have spent the last dozen years or so exploring the ramifications of maternal drinking in pregnancy. Because alcohol is a teratogen, it can cause all kinds of malfunctions in the development of the brain in utero. The range of disabilities that results is described by the umbrella term, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Those who have been affected often have no conscience as we understand it and have difficulty discerning right from wrong in many situations, among other dysfunctional behaviours.
Thus, my whole sense of good and evil has undergone a dramatic shift. And what has this to do with god you may well ask? Actually, when you realize that the gods of all the religions are human creations, why should we be surprised that they bear a strong resemblance to us? Even the animists tend to create anthropomorphic souls they imbue into nature. In my mind “god” is a concept, not a person, spiritual, immortal or otherwise. In my opinion, god is that special essence within each of us. It is the spirit that gives us our humanity. In other words, god is a personal attribute which is greater or lesser according to our individual capacities.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with my premise, but that’s not what is important to me. What does matter is that I have come to terms with the notion of “god” and that is satisfying to me and who I am.
I don’t believe that god is good. I believe that “Good is God”.
As Epicurus once said:
“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?”