Sunday, September 18, 2011

On Properly Expansive Gods

An old friend of mine recently suggested that I didn't allow myself to develop an expansive enough view of god, and that's why I turned to atheism.

If you read my writing on the subject, you may see me combating a pretty fundamentalist version of god quite often, because that's the god I grew up with; but I think the god I ended up with was pretty expansive, as far as those things go. I was reading Paul Tillich and Phillip Yancey and Thomas Merton, and was pretty sure they were onto something. The god I have now (none at all) is--if you ask me--even more expansive.

I get accused of not getting Jesus fairly often now that he and I are no longer hanging out. That's okay, because I think I understand the reason people feel compelled to accuse me of that. It's the same thing Job's friends did to him. It can't be God's fault. Somehow, there has to be something deficient in me; either I never saw the real Jesus, or I have hardened my heart to him. Christians can't entertain the thought that the real Jesus wasn't that great, or that he wasn't god.

but I disagree. Jesus was okay, I think, but definitely not god. God may exist, but he's definitely not tipping his hand. I think it's interesting that the most expansive comment I've ever heard made about God was issued from one of the most famous atheists around:

"If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed."

That's Richard Dawkins, right there. Talk about expansive!

I'm accused of having too shallow a notion of what god can be, but I'm not the one always making claims about god's nature. I don't know if there's a god. I doubt it, but I don't know. I definitely don't believe in any of the gods I've been told about by religion and the religious (or those who are not religious but have a personal relationship with god). But if there is a god, I'm sticking with Dawkins. Too big for us to understand, and obviously not interested in what we think about it. Definitely not so small as to require our constant adulation, or to make threats of eternal damnation if we don't fully surrender our will to it.

I feel like if there is a god, I give that god a lot of credit, and definitely a lot of latitude. I think most atheists do. If I were god, I would prefer that. But, of course, I'm not God, so who knows what such a being would want (if such a being exists). Certainly not me. Certainly not you.


the elegant ape said...

I hold tightly and grimly to the
fundamental belief that I have no f**kin idea that if there is or is not a all knowing deity as well as being painfully suspicious of anyone who says they do or don't.

Lodo Grdzak said...

With all due respect, what would it mean if we could prove there was a God anyway? There's a God--so what? What would change (or could change) about us?. Its not the existence of God that's the real question; its what does this God wants from us? Based on what I see of this world and human nature, God wants us to: fuck each other; rub our privates; procreate; kill each other (oftentimes en masse); eat other living creatures; carve out personal territory; get drunk and intoxicated; and definitely--to go die ASAP! I don't see any big mystery in terms of what God wants (whatever your interpretation of what God is).

the elegant ape said... other living creatures...

Willie Y said...

Thanks Lodo, I can now blame God for over eating living creatures. And I thought is was just me.

Lodo Grdzak said...

Every noble thing we as human's do occurs when we step away from our notion of God and simply assume the God role ourselves (which of course in religion is the biggest blasphemy of all). When you refuse to eat other living creatures, refuse to participate in war, refuse to procreate, refuse to kneel-down for some abstract spiritual power, or when we show respect and empathy for creatures weaker than ourselves. These are concepts that go against what the life force is propelling us (and almost all living organisms) to do.

Spencer Troxell said...

I like that last comment, Lodo. Very empowering. It would be at home in an essay by Anton Lavey.

Regarding the general tone of the conversation so far: If god exists, he certainly has a lot to answer for. For his own sake, let's hope he doesn't exist.

Lodo Grdzak said...

Ha! Well if he does, he already knew what I was gonna say anyway.