Here is a question that has plagued humans since the beginning. Is there a God? And if there is, how do we know? How do we know that God is real? Philosophers have questioned whether we can actually know anything at all. What is the difference between human belief, and human knowledge? We can believe anything we want, but can we really know that what we believe is real? People have been thinking these thoughts and more, since well, forever. And we are seemingly no closer to an answer now than we were at the beginning. I’m going to take a closer look at the God question and what I believe about it.
First of all, human understanding comes very slowly. Whether you believe that humans are around 6000 years old or 200,000 years old, it is a fact that we are very slow at discovering anything. Around 450 BCE, a Greek philosopher named Democritus speculated about cutting a piece of matter, an apple for instance, into smaller and smaller pieces. He felt that a point could be reached where you wouldn’t be able to cut any smaller. He named these smallest pieces “Atomos,” where the word atom comes from. And it wasn’t until 1983 that we developed a microscope powerful enough to be able to see them. The discovery of the visible light spectrum came in the 17th Century and Marconi first used radio waves for transmission in the 1890’s. So humans have been around for thousands of years and yet we’ve discovered very little about ourselves or the universe. This is important in relation to our belief in a God. In the grand scheme of things, we know next to nothing.
It has been estimated that people have believed in over 3000 Gods during our history, most of whom have been proven to not be real. Greek Gods, Norse Gods, Egyptian Gods, etc. If you study all these beliefs you’ll find that other than creating “miracles,” they have all been attributed human characteristics. Love, goodness, anger, jealousy. This is because human characteristics are all we know. And miracles are something we can conceive of. But is this really what a God is like? Anger, jealousy, envy and the like are most often thought of as negative human traits. Would a God, whom is presumably so far removed from being human really have these attributes? That of course is very debatable.
My view on the whole question is this: If there is a God who has the ability to create life, to create atoms, turn those atoms into molecules, and turn those molecules into living, breathing flesh then that God would be so far removed from anything we know as humans that we wouldn’t be able to conceive of it. The human mind at this point and thus all other points in the past would not be able to understand an entity such as God. We could not begin to discuss or conceive of God. Does that mean that I believe no such God exists? Certainly not. What it does mean is that we have a long way to go before we ever figure out whether God is real. We just don’t know. It’s comparable to discovering the electromagnetic spectrum. We knew we could see and hear but we had no idea how we could see and hear. It has taken humans thousands of years just to discover these things, and we are still a long way off from knowing all there is to know about the human body, about nature or the universe. There is so much to “know” that we will never reach the end of knowledge.
Religion has many things to say about God. All of which are only things we can imagine. And yet we forget that people who lived in the BCE time frame couldn’t even conceive of the electromagnetic spectrum and yet today we know it is real. How can we believe that we know about God considering that a God would be so far removed from anything we can even imagine?
Should we give up then, stop wondering if there is a God? In my opinion, no we should not. The only way to discover something is to study it. I’ve been fascinated by the question of God my whole life. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover twice, and studied many other religious books and texts. I’ve studied religious beliefs from Islam to Christianity to Jainism and on and on. The one constant in all these beliefs is the human attributes people assign to their Gods. Our God is a jealous God. God is angry. God desires worship. God desires. All these things are only things we can imagine. But I believe that if God is real, the reality would be so far removed from what we can now conceive of that none of these human attributes would be a part of it.
To settle on the human imagining of God is a mistake. Taking religious belief at face value says that we have given up on conceiving of God in any other way. In the time of Hippocrates it was believed the four basic “humors” of earth, air, fire, and water were responsible for all life. What if that explanation was settled on as the ultimate truth and no one ever looked beyond it? With that in mind, how can we accept that today’s modern religious thought is the ultimate knowledge of God? Considering all we have discovered since the time of Hippocrates, we must surely understand that we know little if anything about a God. All we can do is keep looking.