Do You Believe In God?

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.


No One Should Read This….

angry god
I’ll repeat the warning again. I don’t recommend that anyone read this. There. If you do, you’re on your own. I’m going to talk about religion again. These are my thoughts on why I don’t think the Bible is “the word of God.” Why am I writing this, you ask? Because for a time in my past, I believed it was. I found out the truth the hard way. I’m not going to go into that because it’s not relevant but I want to make clear, that if you are a believer and you still are after reading this then there’s no harm done. If this helps you to ask some questions, then no harm done again. And I always believe that humor helps the medicine go down. So, lets get started.

We’ll start at the beginning, with Satan. Bear with me, it will get better. According to the Bible, God is the perfect being. So he creates Angels. One of them, Satan, rebels and falls from grace. God kicks him out of heaven. So God created angels with the ability to rebel. He’d have to have, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened. Why would God have done that? Anyway, Satan rebels. Wouldn’t Satan know that rebelling against God was futile? Wouldn’t God have known, because he is all knowing and all seeing that Satan would rebel? If he didn’t know, then how is God in charge? Wow, all these questions!

So now God creates Adam and Eve. They live in a beautiful garden and God gives Adam the job of husbanding all the animals. He names them, and oversees them all. That’s his job. God plants the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden and tells Adam and Eve not to eat from it for on the day that they do they will surly die. How are Adam and Eve supposed to know that disobeying God is bad if they don’t know what good and bad are? And why did God lie to them when he told them they would die if they ate from it? And how were they supposed to know that to die was bad? They had no idea what good and bad were until after they ate from the tree. Then Satan shows up and talks to Eve in the guise of a serpent. Instead of going, “Holy crap, a talking snake!” which is just what I would have done, She talks to him as if everything is normal. In my fantasy world, if I were Eve I would have shot straight off to find Adam to tell him. Adam would’ve squinted his steely eyes and said, “A talking snake? That’s not right. Where’s my axe?” And right then and there, thousands of years of human suffering would have been ended before it ever got started. But of course that’s not what happened. Eve probably put down her book, lit a smoke, poured herself a glass of wine and said, “So, talking snake, what’s on your mind?” And well, you know the rest of the story. Eve believed a talking snake instead of God. Really. That’s what it says.
talking snake
And then we have Job. Job is a pretty cool guy. He’s got lots of flocks of animals, a wife and kids. Probably got a membership at the local country club. Shoots 18 holes once in a while, and you know, drinks with the guys and stuff. He’s doing alright. And then Satan shows up. God gives Satan permission to ruin Job’s life. Kill his animals, kill his wife and kids and infect him with diseases. And God says he thinks Job will still love him. God and Satan play with Job for awhile until they get bored and then say, “Just kidding Job, you can have it all back now.”

Now we’ll skip ahead to Ecclesiastes. That’s a hard one to say and even harder to spell. Anyway, chapter One, verse Five says: “The Sun rises and the Sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” (New International Version) You might think, “So, so what?” That’s just what I thought after reading it several times. But you really have to give this one some thought. Today we know that the Sun doesn’t actually “rise.” The earth spins on it’s axis once every twenty four hours and this give the Sun the appearance of “rising and setting.” So when we say, “The Sun rises,” we know it’s just an expression. But the writer of Ecclesiastes didn’t know that. Science didn’t prove that until the late 1500’s to early 1600’s with Copernicus and Galileo. This biblical writer actually thought the Sun went around and around the Earth. And God created all this so he would know that this passage wasn’t true and yet it’s in the Bible. But it is insisted that the Bible is “The word of God.”

I could go on and on. Why did God, who is a perfect being, create such imperfect people, and then spend the rest of time trying to straighten us out? Why did God unleash Satan on us? Why does God play with peoples lives, like Job? Why did God tell Joshua to kill every man, woman and child in Jericho but put all the gold, silver and copper in the store house because these things are “precious to the lord.” Why did God need a son? Why, why, why?
god with hammer
So now if you’re reading this and your mouth is hanging open and you think, “This guy is going straight to Hell,” I warned you. I told you not to read this. By the way, I never did very well in Sunday School. Here’s another question. Why did God give us all these abilities and then expect us to be at war with ourselves to not use them? Like curiosity. To question why? To want to have an answer to these impossible conundrums? If God can do these seemingly amoral things, why shouldn’t we question that? Shouldn’t our creator have a higher moral standard than we do? If we are expected to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” why does God get to let horrible things happen to people like Job? Why is that okay? If you were suddenly given the power to end all suffering in the world but didn’t use it wouldn’t you be considered a horrible human being? If God has the power to end all suffering, why does he sit back and let it happen? Drinking his coffee, watching the afternoon soaps and not paying attention. Oh, and by the way, why did God give a man nipples? Do you know that I have almost accidentally ripped my nipples off about a thousand times while pulling off a tee shirt? Like I said, I didn’t do very well in Sunday School.

Whether or not you believe God is real, the Bible is a fascinating read. 66 separate books written by many authors over a span of thousands of years. Did the hand of God guide the writers? I don’t think so. Is it deliberately false? I don’t believe that either. I think the authors wrote what they truly believed, as with the Ecclesiastes example. Where does that leave us? There are many things in the Bible that are horrible, like the book of Joshua or Job. But there are also many beautiful things like how to love one another and treat others right. I encourage everyone to take a crack at. So that about wraps it up. Try not to think to badly of me. I got my knuckles rapped a lot when I was a kid.
teacher with ruler