The other day I realized that I have been omitting writing about God in my blog and I started to wonder why – because I definitely do have many things on my mind about this issue. I guess I was trying to be nice, to not rock anybody’s boat, to play it safe, to not upset (and lose) my readers… A nice guy, you see, that’s what I am.
But, upon realizing this I immediately decided to express what’s on my mind about this topic as well, and so in the next months I intend to write posts on subjects like which God among many, the reasons for talking about God, God’s books, the plans of God, the personality and the values of God… and perhaps other things as well. And I will start with the questions of the need for God.
To begin with, let me paraphrase an old Zen saying:
If you believe in God,
things are just as they are.
If you do not believe in God,
things are just as they are.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what we think or believe about God or anything else, things are and will be just as they are. So, relax, this is what I suggest…
Anyway, the questions whether there is an omnipotent creator of everything is definitely an utterly fundamental question, but there are other questions like this too, like whether there are multiple universes or is this time/space the only one, or whether this universe is expanding or not (and what is it expanding into), and whether we are alone in the universe… All these questions are important, crucial and all-embedding, but in general we do not talk about them all that much and definitely we do not fight or even kill each other over them. Apart from the questions about God. We do kill each other over them.
So why is the question about the existence of God so important and special? Why would we want to stress and expose it over and over again? There are a few possible reasons that pop up in my mind when I ask myself the above questions:
- The existential dilemma of freedom is a scary one, since being completely free to choose also means being completely responsible for these choices. Full responsibility for our lives, for our existence. Therefore the external locus of control, the feeling that control is not within us but out there, in the hands of destiny, God, some ultimate authority, is a very comforting one and perhaps also the reason why we have the need to reassure ourselves, over and over again, that we are children of God. Not fully responsible. Thus not having to fully face the scary freedom of choice.
- Another reason for talking that much about God may be that there’s yet another existential dilemma we are having difficulties to face, and this is the question of meaning of it all. The question of the meaning of life seems to be rather unanswerable and it is not easy, we all know that, to go from day to day without some sort of a steady meaning. Now, the paradigm of the existence of God makes picture perfect and simple, bringing peace of mind. Or at least pacifying the horror of the meaninglessness. You do not have to know the meaning, as long as there is God who knows. So all you need to do is just trust and continue. Knowing that you are on the right side, on the side with a meaning.
- The third possible reason I see for talking about the question of God all that much in our lives could be in running away from the dreadful feeling of being isolated, of ultimate loneliness in this dark and cold universe. If you remind yourself every day that you are actually warmly held in God’s lap, you have this warm feeling of safety and eternal belonging. So the notion of God brings a relief from this isolation. Now, this lack of ability to be alone could be seriously problematic. Fromm said that the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love, and I could not agree with him more.
- The last, and to my mind the most powerful possible reason for having God on our lips that much could be that having a living connection with the supreme force in the universe gives one a tremendous power. By being the child of the greatest and the one and the only God means being in the right club. This connection gives you power over others, the unbelievers, the unfaithful. It was so easy for the Crusaders to kill everybody around by screaming: “God wills it.” It is so easy to fight God’s wars, to be the hand of God, to have this connection to the ultimate authority. Frankly, I have personally met so many “Godly” people, various religions, various cultures, with God on their tongues all the time, but no respect for other people, no love, no empathy, no acceptance, just the will to judge, control, change, punish… On the other hand, so many loving, gentle, respectful, empathic, warm, wise people never mention God at all.
So, these are some possible reasons that I see for the question of belief in God not being just one of the many intimate personal matters we are all having, mentioning them here and there, but rather an ultimately important concept that is not only shaping lives of individuals, but the history of humankind, to a such dramatic extent.
And I wonder what your thoughts are.