Who? What? Where?

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With apologies to Barry @Another Spectrum, I “stole” the following quote from one of his blog posts. Apparently, it was a statement made in December 2021 by the pastor (Rev. Dawn Hutchings) of a New Zealand church.

When God is no longer a person up there in the sky, where is God? When God is no longer personified in ways which can be controlled and manipulated by the powerful, who is God? When we stop creating images of God which are mere projections of ourselves, what is God?

Of course, Barry shared personal commentary related to this quote on his own blog, but I saw the words from a much different perspective (most likely even different than the pastor intended) and decided to share my own point of view.

Let’s take it question by question:

  • Where is God? It’s a common perception among Christians that their revered entity lives somewhere “up there.” Yet Pastor Dawn seems to ask … what if this is not the case? Where, then, would one find God? Believers will inevitably answer that God lives “in their hearts,” but is this not a cop-out? If God is as powerful as legend persists, one can’t help but wonder why “he” chooses to stay hidden within the human body?
  • Who is God? This is a great question … and one that has never been satisfactorily answered. Many have tried to personify God in an effort to explain his identity, but since there is essentially no agreement on characteristics, an acceptable-by-all response has never been formulated. And of course, God doesn’t provide much descriptive assistance.
  • What is God? As Pastor Dawn (and the bible) notes, humans were created in God’s image. Wouldn’t that inherently mean that God is nothing more than a metaphysical version of us? And if this is so, is it not reasonable to expect “him” to act and respond in ways in which humans are familiar? Or, as the pastor asks, in ways that are projections of ourselves? Yet many are not content with this perspective and instead prefer to formulate a supernatural being with non-definable powers and “out-of-this-world” qualities.

So, from my perspective, the Who, What, and Where questions as related to God remain unanswered. Perhaps someone reading this post can provide some insight — preferably outside of the popular constructs?

Who, Exactly, Is God?

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Believers talk a lot about God.

In their many and several conversations, they report that he* is all good … all knowing … all powerful. And because of these attributes, they pray to him, they sing to him, they praise him, they call on him in times of distress, pain, and despair. And most of all, they DEFEND him!

* Sidenote: It is said that calling “God” an “It” would make him impersonal (!).

Further, they claim to hear his voice, yet others close-by hear nothing. They claim to feel his presence, yet are unable to provide a clear description of what that means. When asked if they have ever seen “God,” they make references to nature, to “unexplained” events and/or happenings, to the existence of the universe. (Or they will claim the Hebrew individual described in the newer part of the “Holy Bible” is a full-on representation.)

Some will say that God is LOVE, yet they are unable to explain the many atrocities (described in that holy book he supposedly wrote) that were commanded by him. Or why he allows his (alleged) human creations to commit inhumanities against one another.

God is frequently described using metaphors, symbols, parables, and maxims. He is also represented by a multitude of idols and images.

Yet no one has seen this entity in a pure and observable form.

So the question remains.

Who, exactly, is this being referred to as “God”?

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Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Desperation and God

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A few nights ago I watched the movie, “The Cloverfield Paradox,” and while I do enjoy Sci-Fi movies that involve space travel and associated events, this one was, for me, a bit “over the top.” But that’s not the point of my post. It’s merely a lead-in to something that took place in the movie. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with the movie, here is a brief description from Wikipedia:

The film follows an international group of astronauts aboard a space station who, after using a particle accelerator to try to solve Earth’s energy crisis, must find a way home when the planet seemingly vanishes.

Naturally, as is typical for this type of movie, there were explosions, weird happenings, moments of crises, and of course deaths, as the crew works to find a solution to their situation. 

Finally, after several attempts to figure out what’s going on and to regain some sort of control, only two astronauts remain alive and (surprise!) one of them comes up with an idea on how they can get back to earth (which has now reappeared) before the space station is completely destroyed.  

OK. Now that you have a (very) brief synopsis of the movie, here is the point of my post. Please consider it carefully.

At the moment when things looked their grimmest, one of the astronauts asks if the group would mind if he prayed. Of course the group agrees. Now, while this action is not that uncommon in any crisis, a thought occurred to me in this particular instance and I’d like to share it with you.

I’m well aware that many of you reading this are totally convinced there is no god … while others have serious doubts about its existence. Yet in a moment of severe crisis — when a person is facing an almost certain and horrific death — is it so very difficult to believe that we might put our non-belief and/or doubts aside? Can any of us say in a moment of life-threatening fear that we would not utter words to the effect … “god help me!”

Putting it another way … are you convinced, in the very deepest part of your “self,” that in an extreme and potentially fatal situation you would not ask for help from an “outside force?” 

(Please note: It’s very important that you disassociate from any thoughts related to the Christian god as you consider your answer.)

I realize that in moments of comparative safety and ease, it’s difficult to “imagine” how we might act under extreme stress. Nevertheless, I tend to think many of us might do (what we currently believe as) the “unthinkable.” 

Evidence of “God”

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I suppose the title of this post should actually be evidence of gods (plural) since there are so many. But since I’m the most familiar with the Hebrew/Christian god, I hesitate wandering off into the field of dreams gods.

Having been part of the blogging world for quite some time, I’ve noticed that discussions related to religious matters tend to be some of the most popular — and generally receive the most feedback. In fact, I think I’ve read nearly every believer’s viewpoint on WHY a god exists … as well as those who doubt or adamantly deny the existence of same.

Nevertheless, I find the topic fascinating. 

Many of my regular readers know where I stand. I am convinced that no god of any kind exists … but I’m particularly convinced that the Christian God is a delusion illusion. 

Yes, I admit there was a time when I was sucked into the dreams and hopes of the Christian faith. And yes, I could cite scripture and verse to justify this faith. And of course, I experienced all those “good feelings” of knowing I was … Redeemed! Saved! Bound for Heaven! 

Further, no matter what ANYONE said in dispute, I KNEW all of it was REAL because I could feeeel it in my heart.

So what happened? Well it’s a long story (some of which I covered in my book), but mostly it was because the whole experience started feeling artificial. More times than not, prayer yielded nothing. Bible events and stories frequently contradicted the mantra of a loving being. Following certain mores felt contrived and unnecessary. And of course, evangelizing frequently resulted in the estrangement of friends and family.

Now some may want to point out that their church/religious experience is not like this. And perhaps it isn’t. But I know for a fact there are many, many religious denominations that are far more focused on synthetic actions than they are on presenting evidence for their god.

So the question becomes/remains … Where. Is. The. Evidence?

The Bible is not evidence for innumerable reasons, many of which have been pointed out by scholars far more learned than me. An individual’s feelings are not evidence (except perhaps to that person). So-called answered prayer is not evidence because it is anecdotal and personal.  (Notice that no one talks about unanswered prayers.). A “changed life” is not evidence because simple lifestyle changes or how a person responds to situations are simply part of the human experience.

Someone once made this far-reaching statement: “Everyone knows that God exists.” However, what I’ve discovered in my various and sundry wanderings through books and blogs and branches of knowledge, this is far from an accurate statement. And I tend to believe a majority of my blog followers/readers will agree.

So here’s the deal. If you consider yourself a God-Believer, I invite you to provide solid and indisputable EVIDENCE that a god exists. But before you do, please keep in mind that …

  • The Bible is not evidence.
  • Your feelings are not evidence.
  • Answered prayer is not evidence.
  • A “changed life” is not evidence.

The floor is open.