Tuesday, July 5, 2016

From All the Easy Speeches That Comfort Cruel Men

it seems to me that there are three basic beliefs/attitudes/opinions about the existence and nature of God.  first, one may hold that there is no god; second, that there is a God who set creation in motion but does not intervene in how that creation is proceeding; and third, that God is active, directing the course of creation and each infinitesimal part of it.  from previous posts, it is clear that i am a believer in the second of these views about God.

within that second attitude toward God, there are two opposing beliefs: one, that once God set creation in motion, God allowed it to proceed and observed its progress dispassionately or two, that while God does not intervene directly in the ongoing process of creation, God is always present as the very force binding all things together.  it is in this camp that i find myself.  it is my belief that God is a benevolent, encouraging, loving Creator who comforts, strengthens, and cares about creation and the beings in it.  i have no evidence for this belief; it is simply what i seem to have experienced in my life.

those who reject belief in god(s) would say that my belief is a vestige of my upbringing in the christian faith that i refuse to let go, and they may be right.  i see much to support the non-believing position.  much of what we call "religion" is an attempt to explain that which we cannot explain, and as scientific understanding increases, much of what we accept "on faith" is explained by evidence-based knowledge.  we no longer need to make sacrifices to appease angry gods, and we know there are reasonable explanations for natural phenomena that humans once saw as acts of capricious or vengeful gods.

there is great danger, i think, in the last sort of belief in God.  when one believes in a "personal" God that has a plan for creation and every being in it, it becomes easy to act as if everything that happens and every action that one takes is not only known in advance by God, but is in fact caused by God.  i read an article recently about a leader in the "christian right" who had proclaimed that ted cruz was ordained by God to be the next president.  when that didn't happen, this person encouraged his followers to vote for trump, telling them that God had another plan for the country, and, that despite trump's past and current actions that are contrary to conservative christian philosophy, God must be using trump to carry out God's plan.  his attitude is "who has the audacity to question God's plan?" so if trump has won the republican nomination, it must be God's will that trump become the next president.

since those who insist on a god who has every detail of history and each individual life mapped out into an infinite future are convinced of their own rightness, anything that happens that runs contrary to their own view must be evil that will bring the wrath of an angry god down upon us.  if marriage equality is the law of the land they say, god will be angered and punish the country.  if transgendered people are protected by law, all manner of evil will come upon us at the hand of a vengeful god.  if businesses are not allowed to discriminate against those who are evil in god's sight, religious freedom no longer exists.  these are very dangerous positions that flow from the belief in this sort of a god, and every reasonable person should oppose a faith like this that creates a god in the likeness of those who purport to follow such a god.

may we not allow faith to overwhelm reason.  may we see the dangers in intolerance and bigotry, particularly when we claim that such evil is endorsed by god.  may we not be quick to condemn those who are different from us and to wish them harm.  if we believe in God, may that god be one of love.  shalom.

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