What Is God? And God’s Successor?

God is the central, highest authority in the universe, as pronounced by religious, self-styled “authorities”. Human beings needed that authority, it was felt,
for appeals from savage ways of dealing with one another. Just up from apery, the need was felt for a very long time. And LONG time was really long, while the mind was developing ways of coping with a cantankerous environment where there was no general, discernible order. Day after day after day after after after —- just the whimsy of the capricious cloud and wind and water falling and piling up in spots. So “we” (as we were then) had to have some sense, some order made up, some authority to manage the chaos. Habits of dealing with it. Repetitious work at control, at routinizing responses that made sense because what worked before continues to work and deliver safety and in time, long time, unmarked time except seasons unnumbered, imagined by sun and moon movements by exceptional persons.

No measure by month, year, decade, century, just time as the nickname grunts for some oppressive force, some entity of authority who subjects others to undue pressures and comes down hard on the one who has not coped well or knew what to do in an exigency from wind and water and fire and beast and rising and falling earth and rock. All that muck grows a personification in the primitive brain, packaging the good and packaging the tumult in one grunt. Uh-huh. Yeah. Ole ” ” (with a grunt). Over decades, centuries, over longer spans of time. Pre-God Time. With “god-like” entities.

Then God grew, because there was a need for some grand authority of control. We now must remember how long the time was for our primitive ancestors to cope with the whip and lash of climate and shifting earth. And very probably the very, very strong and overriding and desperate and even insane desire for some miraculous assistance in designing defenses against the whiplashes of nature and other enemies to appease or praise nature’s bribery.

Even today, that praying for some God-like intervention is sought.

Finally, the ultimate arose, with a place of solitude for a home. We see portraits of nature, landscapes of heaven. And dwell on that solitude. Unlike the cave paintings with stick figures of primitive life. There is that one central authority managing the whole of the universe. With different forms here and there, and doctrines, and rituals, and other accoutrements. For some. For many. For the majority. But what is there for those not in the majority?

“God” was in the uncontrollable force and mysterious appearance of willy-nilly wind, not understood, whence, why, how. No science yet. Allegory. Tales told. A force hitting the blank slate of murky mind. Then “personification”. There was that one God-like figure that came along with his sacred name, and He had the opportunity, presented by a follower of His, to recognize science as the art of demonstrated proof, in pointing to “evidence” as the proof. But He rejected the opportunity to produce proof and ridiculed the one who stood in need of that proof to prove his fidelity. The disciple was put down and ridiculed for what ought to have been a very early demonstration of the scientific impulse.

Eventually, the discipline of science demanded that impulse for proof, from evidence.

THIS POSTSCRIPT ADDED ON OCTOBER 20, 2014

It is apparent that people still need God. But, in a way, government has become the growth form that is taking over the tasks of religion, gradually, as it encases in laws what was formerly the function of religion. Man-made Order and Virtue and Morality are now governing society very effectively. Those functions of religion were, from ancient times until recent times, paired with totalitarian forms of governance, were the usual social controls. Those two needed each other to maintain order. Thank you, Religion, you have done well, but better forms of government, especially the democratic form, can now take over from here on, and what government does not do can still be reinforced by your preachings for the “goodness of self control”. When it comes to social virtue, there cannot be too many influences. Looking back, it appears that religion paired with the lesser forms of non-democratic government did not do as well together before democracy was invented.

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Published in: on April 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm  Comments (4)  

The Inter-Faith Service for the Boston Bombing: One Thing Missing

Recently, the “Boston Marathon Bombing” catastrophe occasioned an inter-faith service. The meeting was appropriate and beautifully spoken by all the presenters. Impressive. But I must demur. In each of the last two services, A PRESUMPTION HAS BEEN MADE that ought to be corrected, forever! One segment of the population was omitted. What is that presumption?

It is consistently and continually presumed that humanists or agnostics have no faith. That is a prejudgment. WE DO! Therefore, they had no presence in YOUR inter-faith services. YOUR blind thinking wants only organized religious denominations to be represented. Agnostics do have a belief system, called a philosophy, and a faith even though they may not have an organization with a power in organized numbers behind it to compel attention.

It is a faith “at large” with the method of reason promoting human welfare and humanitarianism. Yes, it may be secular, a cultural movement, and highly individual, but we would recognize and identify with some one speaking about that school of thought that puts the individual human being gazing squarely into the face of evil, and mayhem, and unreason, and speaking for the force that buoys up a large segment of human life on this globe.

There are many great humanists who should be asked to speak and represent us humanists.

People of religious faiths have failed to include, twice now, a humanist or agnostic or atheist to represent a growing segment of the population of the United States. Your premise that overlooks some great members of this society is fatally flawed with what? prejudice? ignorance? denominationalism? supernaturalism? narrow-mindedness?

Please, in the future, show some of the competence of reasonable adults! Do not be afraid of independent thinkers who may use different pathways toward the same end as the doctrinaire. Believe it, there are some great thinkers in our society who share my view. You show yourselves fearful, of what? That service about the bombing of the marathon was good. But there was some representation missing. I felt it. I resented it. I wanted to hear my point of view applied to that moment. There may have been a humanist among those attacked and hurt or killed.

I hope we do not have to have another such memorial rite. Without that sort of wickedness we can do. But —

“GOD” — Again!

I have had much to say lately about the subject of religion and “God”. I am getting closer to my final word on the subject. I am mainly writing all this on the subject of religion because I am in a crisis situation regarding a death in the family. Sympathetic folks always say something like, “Believe me, you will be with her again in a better place.” AS comfort to the aggrieved.

I have come to the conclusion that I am not an “atheist”, as my thoughtful expressions would have one believe. I thought I was, but I have come to a refinement as I examine it more closely. I am not one without a thesis (since that is what the word literally means); hence, not an atheist. Close, maybe, and perhaps in the eyes of others. It probably doesn’t matter to any on-looker, but it may to my family. To codify a religious belief, the belief must have a struggle with the universal quandry of good and evil, light and darkness, truth and falsehood, personified to make it more real and immediate, threatening with whips and scorns, or rewards of eternal life and paradise. The organizers must have a system of rewards and punishments to properly “condition” those who come to them for help with personal anguish. And life certainly has mountains of that anguish to climb in the ordeals of living!

The original organizers, over two millenia of the gradual accretion of codes and ritual and excavations and cathedrals and artifacts, have the majesty and systematic organization and indoctrination of the young down to a catechism, the book summarizing the principles of the religion, written as questions and answers for inculcation of the young. They have had their dissenters, breaking off into a new organization over some differences, and that was good for those dissenters to get away from the monopoly which looked like a good thing, and so there was the whole business opened up for all types of new organizing principles.

Therefore, when I reason to my own end, I realize I am not an “a-theist”, without a thesis. Any “thesis” about religion is an unprovable proposition. The ultimate appeal is to “belief”, devotion to that belief on pain of, whatever will discourage more free-thinking. The very thing that must be organized is such a way of thinking that people will feel “belief” to be factual, real, consequential, urgent truth, with an “or else-ness”. The organizers find that personification of characters in a grand struggle is dramatic, and the organizers eminently resort to pageantry and drama. At one time, the drama was burning heretics on a square downtown. At another, the organizers sent whole armies on crusades against the heresies threatening their organization.

There is still today the incipient warfare divided between a more populist politics and a way of crusading religious life.

Here in the United States today, the organizers have been tamed somewhat, by a lawful hands-off freedom of belief.

I am not one without a belief. I have a thesis, my unproved and unprovable statement of my point of view based on a lifetime of observation, the empirical “data” of my a posteriori perceptions of what I can state are the facts of my observations, the way people behave. If there is that higher power of a deity, to which believers must attribute some sort of miracle, which stands as evidence of the intervention of that deity into everyday life, then I have not seen anything but theatre. Most everyday uses of that word miracle are for such events as the “miracle on the Hudson”. To me, the miracle was widely reported as such but it only came down to everything going according to plan. The survival had been practiced and anticipated in the manufacture of the airplane and the training of th crew.

In a previous essay, I stated my thesis, which was not total disbelief. It was my belief that God, if it is a “he” or “father”, if it was the “creator of the universe”, is a tantalizing object of righteous, religious organizers of beliefs to offer some admirable goodness activities, and it has a “hands-off” or “laissez-faire” policy of operation and is not a part of everyday life, listening to prayers and answering prayers of those in trouble. Such beliefs have some power to motivate extraordinary exertions for good ends, no doubt.

I am not an atheist, one without a thesis. But my thesis views any higher power, or deity, as having no part in controlling nor intervening in human life on Earth. Good things can come out of prayer. That cannot disprove my thesis.

Look up the word “agnostic” please. Perhaps that is a better fit, meaning, a person who claims that he cannot have true knowledge about the existence of God (but does not deny that God might exist). That means, a fence sitter, doesn’t it. I say it again, if God “exists”, I do not know where it is, or how to prove it. Its policy is “laissez-faire” as far as Earthlings go. Any church must have a difficult time with the concept of the “miracle”. They are nice to have, in order to give its believers that confidently strong feeling that God is near and imminent and available and will, on occasion, actually play, openly, some material and specific part in the individual human’s life. One church must have specific proof of that provable, demonstrable intervention in human affairs. That would create a “saint”. Otherwise, the church might just have to adopt the suggested “laissez-faire” policy to be the plan of action of the deity, “hands off”. Belief is good. But do not expect the deity to play a part in your private affairs, for which you are solely responsible. Any reckoning will take place, according to your belief, at another time and place.

You might say that I am treating the concept of God as an enterprise, an organization constituting a business venture in the name of God. You might say that your tithe is a religious tax. And the profits go to —, oh, you contemplate that a bit.

Just say that I am a “Doubting Thomas”. I read that part of the story. I might consider Thomas to be the first prominent scientist. He had the scientists’ basic skepticism. He wanted to be shown the evidence that would support the claim. It was Jesus who rebuked him for his scientific bent. Thomas said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails…I will not believe.” Later, Jesus said, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20, 26-29) Jesus had to prove it before Thomas would believe it. Of course, Jesus was speaking in an age and a culture that had not developed the basic operating principles of scientific proofs for producing reliable knowledge. Thomas was not appreciated for what he stood for. That age was to be far into the future for those times.

Am I bound for HELL?

Post Script (4-4-13): What is truly my God? What do I worship? Classical melody and harmony of music I associate with that beauty in my spouse. She is still evocative of the beauties of classic and classy classical music, a warm and sunny day of light breezes, the company of family who are stars, contemplation of a great work for the betterment of human life (as in the book I am trying to write). What I worship comes to tears in those associations. I am lonely. I was a loner before I married. Now, a loner again. Your God does not look like me nor I Him. The closest I can come to a God-form is the scientific and artistic expressions of magnificent intelligence. That breaks down to shards of God in many places, and I can see trashy attempts that fail. As in people who let themselves go, for one example, in appearance and short-cut deeds of the ungovernable. Right now, I am specializing in my gaze on politicians.