|An essay on the nature of God
||[Jun. 22nd, 2006|05:35 pm]
I should warn you now, that what you are about to read is quite flameworthy. If you have definite ideas about God which you're not comfortable being challenged on, or you just don't like reading about someone else's fairly atheistic conclusions, or if religious debate just bores you then don't read past this paragraph. If you choose to read on remember that this is just my own opinion and if God really does both exist and cares about this sort of thing then I'm probably going to burn in Hell :)
Firstly, I would like to say that the God I'm considering is the monotheistic God of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. I don't particularly care if Vishnu or Zoroaster are different to what I describe because this isn't about them. Also, I'm not going to refer to pronouns of God as Him/Her/It because the capitalisation is too much trouble for me to bother with. Sorry if it offends anyone.
So, in the various holy texts we have an apparent contradiction. Firstly, we are told that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect, unknowable and so forth. Secondly, we are told that he loves humanity, sorrows that they aren't perfect, gets angry when they turn from him and so forth. In short, he isn't that much different from humanity (or we aren't that different from him since he came first, but thats not really important to this)
To me, this just doesn't work. A God who is perfect and all-knowing has absolutely no relation to humanity. Humans are born with restrictions on what they can perceive, how they can think, what they can feel. We are constrained by the physics of the universe. Now, God created the universe, therefore he isn't constrained by its laws. This means that we have about as much chance of relating to him as a point on a piece of paper has of relating to a hypercube. We will NEVER understand God. Any metaphor we attempt is going to fall so far short as to be pointless. Ascribing human emotions to God is pure fallacy because human emotion is a result of complex interactions between hormones which God is not prey to, having no body formed of matter in this universe. Even assuming that he feels some analogue of emotion, our own emotions could only be the palest reflections of what God is capable of feeling.
So for simplicity's sake, let's assume that God has something that we can recognise as emotion. Now, what motive could God possibly have for caring about humanity? My answer is that we will never know and so the question is rather pointless. To God we are smaller than atoms and so its hard to imagine him caring for us, but that's ok because he can focus on something infinitely small anyway, unlike us humans. The answer of why is still up in the air though
Now, let's assume that God does care for us, because if he doesn't care about us then religion is pointless. So why are we meant to worship him again? You might as well worship your parents, because for most of your life they have more power than you and they certainly care for you. What possible good could there be in us worshipping God? It can't be that he craves the worship, because that would be a weakness, and therefore flawed and human. Could it be that its so that we can go to Heaven? Now why would he create a Hell to start with if he cares about us? Eternal damnation in return for not worshipping him is damn (hehe pun :p) harsh and not very caring at all. And once again it feels egotistic from my point of view, that we must worship him or else he'll punish us. That's just bullying. Taking the corollary and saying that if we do worship him he'll reward us is just manipulation. Could it be that our belief is what fuels his existence? Well that's just stupid, because then not only is he not perfect or the creator of the universe, but it puts humanity as the ultimate power since we are responsible for God's existence, and therefore there's less reason than ever to worship him.
So really, if God does exist and is as perfect as he's meant to be, it makes no difference whether we worship him or not. Either way he won't be bothered by it, or else he isn't as perfect as he's meant to be. And if he's not perfect, then there's even less reason to worship him, because when I look at the monotheistic religions all I see is a lot of egotism and maliciousness. Testing someone to see whether they love their family or you more by testing if they're willing to sacrifice their son to you? Throwing a hissy fit because your chosen people turned away from you because they thought they were alone and got scared? Damning all of humanity for their ancestor's weakness that led them to disobey an arbitrary command you gave them? A God who does things you can't respect him for isn't a god worth worshipping in my opinion
And finally I give you a Discworld quote because its funny and semi-relevant:
"The gods of the Disc have never bothered much about judging the souls of the dead, and so people only go to hell if that's where they believe, in their deepest heart, that they deserve to go. Which they won't do if they don't know about it. This explains why it is so important to shoot missionaries on sight." - Terry Pratchett
Join me next time in religious discussion as I rant about all the ways in which my religion pisses me off!