Friday, February 18, 2011

Redefining God out of Fear and Desperation

I was reading the Huffington Post and came across an article from Jeffery Small, an author and contributor to the Post. Jeff has come to realize that the image of the old man in the sky God just isn’t sustainable anymore. The guy who watches everything we do, and influences the world, and listens to your prayers for the Cubs to win the World Series and rejects it constantly, none of this holds water anymore. Science killed that old dude.

But that’s not the end of the story. Just because the god of his parents has been offed doesn’t mean Jeff is ready to abandon fantasy. Not by a long shot. Jeff absolutely needs a god. And if the Judeo-Christian God concept doesn’t work, then damnit, he’ll redefine god.
To get a flavor of his reasoning (such as it is) and the new age gibberish that ensues, here are some choice extracts from the article :

“Unlike the age of the Biblical writers, we live in a world ruled by science, technology and secular thought ... we understand that our world is governed by physical laws from the subatomic realm to the cosmic, so where do we find room for God to act? Is God still relevant ?”
“God as the potter, the watchmaker or the chess master has lost its relevance for many in our post-modern world.”

So far so good. Then ...

"How can we conceive of God today in a way that is honest to our intellects while satisfying to our hearts?"

“I do not see God as a separate being, but rather God is the center of being within me and everything around me.”

“God must not just be consistent with scientific and rational thought but must embrace it. I have come to understand God, not as a transcendent Zeus-like figure, but instead as the infinite creative source of existence.”

“I’ll pose a question ... What symbols or metaphors might we use to open our minds to a new way of thinking about God that works in the 21st century?”

As long as he asked I felt compelled to comment on Jeff’s proposition. Here is my response:

So basically what your saying, Jeff, is that since the "god of the gaps" has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, you now have to invent, devise, create and otherwise conjure a new kind of god that fits in with discovery reality and 21st century science; as though that's less absurd than a bearded psychotic in the sky, or a dead Jew on a stick, or Ganesh the four armed elephant god. It isn't. It's simply more imaginary mental masturbati­on, and just as meaningless.

The old model god too hard to maintain? Not worth trying to repair? Outlived its usefulness? Might as well cut your loses and find a newer model that’ll satisfy your craving for something spooky somewhere, eh?

Here's a thought: be a big boy Jeff - try dealing with the natural world with out wishing and hoping and conjecturi­ng a supernatur­al, disembodie­d creator force or something indescribably delicious to replace the defunct God image. Try reality. I know it sounds terribly frightening to someone who has always clung to some form of spookdom, but you can do it. Just keep repeating “I think I can, I think I can ....”

As for your question as to symbols for a new way of thinking about God - how about a big steaming pile of equine fecal matter. Or an empty glass.


Shea Grimm said...

Brilliant! I had to walk my significant other through various stages of grief after convincing him of the ridiculousness of his (all) religion. There was indeed a phase very similar to this poor sap's. It's basically similar to bargaining. Depression follows, and finally...acceptance.

NewEnglandBob said...

Jeffery Small's words are weasel words. They don't say anything useful. One might as well celebrate by saying Kumbaya.

LuWeeks said...

If we give up worrying about truth or fact, we can prove anything.

Anonymous said...

I wonder where Mr. Small got his revelations?

Obi-Wan Kenobi: "It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."

Ah, the horseshit is "strong in this one."

Anonymous said...


Your "empty glass" symbol for god is perfect. An empty vessel waiting for religions to fill it with bullshit.

Sparta Doc said...

Small, like Bishop Spong, both disbelieve in a theistic god but appear to be afraid of simply chucking the ball of wax. I suspect they are indeed atheists but are afraid (for one reason or another) to admit same. So they go off into a world of vague and obscure terms. For Small it is "the center of being within me and everything around me" or "The infinite creative source of existence" Spong is equally vague, talking about being "fully human" or "a Life Force that can live in and thru you and transform you"

I haven't a clue what they are talking about. Your post is a reminder that we are wasting our time trying.

And finally this thought, quite in line with your post. I have found it to be stunning to some Christians ... "An atheist can be (always is?) more moral than the theist. Why? Because when we do something good we do it because it is the right thing to do, not because we are seeking a reward in an afterlife, nor are we afraid of eternal punishment if we don't do it."