Posts tagged ‘god’
Just who the heck am I talking about here?
- Keeps track of who is being good and bad
- Rewards according to the list
- Knows what you are doing at all times
- Is aware of your requests for gifts and such
- Parents teach their children about him
- Has helpers of lesser abilities than himself
- Has supernatural powers
- Is known as loving and kind
- No one ever sees him
- Gets credit for things he doesn’t actually do
- Lots of songs about him
- May have origins in some historical character
- His example may inspire generosity in some people
- Does some rather weird miraculous things
Happy holidays whilst you figure on that. :D
This explanation of the concept of God is something that really took hold in my mind once I heard it. The idea simply encompasses so much and explains it so well.
Up front admission: I am borrowing wording heavily from others in putting this together.
This quote popped out at me powerfully from one of the videos in the series I linked in my last post. “The primary psychological function of the concept of a personal god is to give the believer a surrogate parent. Some minds are able to become independent of parental figures; others cannot or fall into self-destructive behaviors without them. Minds in this category rely on religion. The God concept is useful for motivating and pacifying them.”
As soon as I heard this I knew that I’d come upon something profoundly true and began looking into it further. I did find some scholarly papers on the topic and a presentation or two. (I much enjoy the work presented by Professor J. Anderson Thomson who hits on several excellent points besides this one.) But I must credit someone who goes by the handle Copernicus on ‘The Secular Cafe’ for his brilliant summary of this whole God(s)-as-parent concept. Following are his words:
–One thing that is common to all humans is the fact that we start out with absolute trust in the judgment of adults–usually our parents. We learn morality–the difference between good and bad behavior–from them. Adults are mysterious beings that are omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. They provided all nourishment and protection.
Most people seem wedded to the intuition that morality is “objective”. That is, it comes from a single authoritative source that cannot be questioned. (I prefer the term “authoritative morality” over “objective morality”.) Why is that? It is a consequence of how we learned morality in the first place. It wasn’t based on the consequences of actions, but on what we were told to do by authority figures.
As we matured, we gradually broke down our dependence on parental authority. This break with authority becomes especially pronounced in the teen years. However, gods (or God, for monotheists) fill in the gap that we leave when we abandon our reliance on the experience, wisdom, and authority of adults. Gods stand in loco parentis for maturing humans.
One thing that we can say about all human beings is that we are all raised by adults, and we first learn moral behavior by fiat from adults. Given that we need to be weaned away from dependence on those adults in order to survive in adulthood, belief in a god can fill in the gap left by the loss of parental authority. Hence, people are very comfortable with the idea that morality is grounded in the authority of a judgmental being–a parent–rather than some abstract utilitarian principle. —
Brilliant Mssr. Copernicus. From all this we can now readily understand why theistic believers become so upset when challenged about their beliefs. Just think of how a child reacts if you impugn the character of his/her parents. In like manner, a biologically adult human who believes in a god or gods is attached to a parent still and will, like a child, bristle because you challeng their source of security, nourishment, and all things good.
Remember how anguished most of us were when we first deconverted? We experienced “leaving home” and for the first time in our lives and we stood alone as true adults without a parent. That is apparently not something most humans want.
– Save any of his followers from sickness, disaster, disease, or loss of goods or liberty. And this is despite the screaming, fervent, desperate prayers and pleas of his “beloved children”. (What a great father!)
– Heal autoimmune disorders, cancers, genetic defects, paralyzed limbs, lost limbs, dementia, insanity, or even acne. (What a great physician!)
– Show up and convince, scare, bewilder, or just talk to any person, skeptic or seeker, in order to provide them with something to believe in other than wishful thinking. (What a great communicator!)
– Write a treatise that provides clear guidance as to what he is like and what he expects of humanity. (What a great author!)
– Provide his followers with some sensible, logical, convincing, sound, intelligent, ‘non-internally-contradictory information that they can pass on to other humans. (What a great inspirer!)
– Manage to inspire his followers with enough sense, love, information, grace, diplomacy, brotherly love, or humility to keep his church from fragmenting into thousands of squabbling sects. (What a great administrator!)
– Give his church enough unity, sense, inspiration, drive, integrity, or guts to ‘accomplish such good works as to shame people of their slander’, or to ‘withstand the gates of hell’, or to ‘overcome the world’, or to ‘keep the unity of faith’, or to do anything else that he said the church should do. (What a great founder and guide!)
– Do anything. (What a great, all-powerful deity!)
So, I know I’ve said recently I wanted to get away from all of this, but I just couldn’t help but post this because I find it amusing…
It occurred to me today that probably the core loophole in all of theism is found in the inherent impossibility for God /gods to be described without assuming the universe already exists. Try it! (Friendly reminder, you can’t use any words that assume space and time exist. You know, core words like “in”, “outside of”, “before”, “beginning”, “pre-existing”, “incarnate”, “only”, etc.)
Consider one example: the phrase “God is three in one” or even “God is one”.
Apologist Dr. James White said in a recent debate: “numbers are a part of Creation itself”.
However, if God created numbers then it is idolatrous and irrational to use any numbers to describe God. If God did not create numbers yet has properties defined numerically, then a believer admits there is something more fundamental to reality than God.
Now, to help see how silly all this is, imagine how many people have been killed for not accepting the correct numerical description of God…
When I was still a theology major in college, I remember reading a book comparing and contrasting Wesleyan-Arminian theology with Calvinist theology. The result? I became thoroughly convinced that in a very real way, the two sects of Christianity were not worshipping the same God. I was uncomfortable with proposing the idea that one of them was “wrong,” but it seemed obvious to me that there were some irreconcilable differences between a Calvinists perception of God and a Wesleyan’s perception of God. Each school of thought reduces the essential qualities of God to different attributes. While the characteristics of justice (Calvinism focus) and mercy (Wesleyan focus) are not mutually exclusive, the elevation of either of these characteristics over the other does present a different person.
The Calvinist God is defined by his strict adherence to justice. His creation of the universe and His relationship to it are quite different than a God whose essential property is mercy. Although my systematic theology professor—a man who I admire greatly for both his intellect and integrity—came very close to making the claim that these two conceptions of God are not presentations of the same divine person, but he always shied away from saying it outright. And with good reason, the claim opens up a Pandora’s box of sorts.
There are some very serious ramifications for this line of thought. It indicates that at least one of these two sects of Christianity is not worshipping the correct Person. They are worshipping an idol of a God. A twisted version of the “one true God.” Then again, these are not the only two “versions” of God within the Christian faith. Catholic theology, charismatic theology, orthodox theology… they all present their own spin on who God is. Despite the surface similarities between the deities of each of these schools of thought, to say that the God of the Southern Baptist is the same as the God of the Russian Orthodox is a bit of a stretch…
I realized sometime ago that I don’t talk to you like I used to. The most praying I do these days is the same nighttime prayer I’ve prayed since I was a child. I don’t even say grace before meals anymore. Not out loud, anyway. It’s just the little rhyme Mom taught me, and it’s usually when the first forkful is already in my mouth.
I don’t even know if I miss you. I don’t know who I’m supposed to miss.
Somehow, though, I still believe in you. Somehow, I still hope that you care and are doing something about the state of the world. It would be nice to know that you loved me and really did do some of the things they say you did. But I won’t hold my breath.
I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way, but I guess you know that. I mean that I’m not going to hold out for a sign from you before I live my life. I don’t think I’ll ever fully know or understand your will, so I don’t really see a point in continued attempts to grasp it through prayer and biblical interpretation. I’m just going to keep going, and keep hoping that it will all be okay with you in the end.
You might remember the conversation I had with M. (We’ve been going out. Fellow agnostic theist. It’s been awesome, thanks. :D) We were talking about heaven, hell, and judgment. And I said that a usual scare tactic is a Bible verse about the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” by the people who are shut out, in darkness. Nobody wants to spend eternity weeping and gnashing their teeth, right?…