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You are divine, you don’t need a “God”

Dear Genice,

Walt Whitman says not to argue concerning god. But I have yet to be able to walk away from a hornet’s nest without sticking my finger in it. So, here’s a long answer to your short question:

A Judeo-Christian God derives from a creation story of a desert people. That story is startlingly similar to the creation myths of other Fertile Crescent/Middle Eastern people, including the Sumerians, Assyrians, Hittites, Philistines, etc.

Because of the persistence of these stories in history, one is led to believe that the… See More tenets of Judeo-Christian faith appeal to people today merely due to small differences in the stories. As a whole, they either reveal a divine presence or not. Their similar origins determine that one cannot be invalid without all others being invalid. Or, if one is valid, then at least significant parts of the other stories are valid as well.

That said, Christianity is most popular religion in the world. But it is by no means monolithic. As a matter of fact, it is the religious tradition of less than a minority of the world’s population.

Can all these people be wrong? Probably not about adherence to the more humane tenets of the tradition. Probably, however, they are not so right about God. After all, nearly a majority of the world doesn’t believe in the Christian god–this excludes Islam, which has approximately the same notion of a deity as Christians.

In addition, no one has visited the afterlife or heaven or hell and come back to report about it. Many have claimed to have had such experience, but I would argue that despite the seeming reality of those experiences to those individuals, it is difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate the reality from the workings of the human mind–after all, if god, then god separate from human beings. In other words, god does not need humans to be a deity. And if it is true that god created human beings out of a creation-need, then god is not separate from human beings, and thus humans are also divine–a proposition which is denied by Christianity and Islam.

In the end, I think that god divides more than it unites. The petty squabbles over belief have often led to bloody conflict. In our case, missionary Christianity had a great deal to do with the eradication of native people in the Americas–either by direct conflict, the spread of disease brought by missionaries, by the messianic missions of conquistadors US Army generals, or American Indian policy. Christianity was also used to justify slavery, and, ultimately, was also the foundation of American racism. On a more local level, establishment of anti-democratic hierarchies of religion, class, and status, as well as a justification for exploitative capitalism, ethnocentrism, and egoistic nationalism.

In other words, while teaching humility, Christianity has very little humility about it. Humility, as a teaching, becomes a means of supression, of convincing people to stay in their place, to follow the instruction and example of their superiors, to conform, etc.

So, does the bad of a religious tradition necessarily prove the nonexistence of god? Nope. Not at all. It may invalidate arguments supporting the benevolent nature of god. After all, suffering may be sufficient for the understanding of nonsuffering–evil may be sufficient for understanding good–but suffering is not necessary for understanding nonsuffering.

Frankly, I believe life as represented by the DNA molecule is the spirit. It is the spark of divinity in a universe that may have other sparks or may not. It manifests itself, reproduces itself, and spreads itself through the millions of species of plant, animal, and protozoan life throughout our soil, rock, water, and air. Why does it need a creator? If there is no divine creator, then everything that lives and dies becomes that much more special, unique, and wonderful. A god just demeans the special nature of life itself.

I suppose, to supplant God, I would say that life creates itself, is its own reason for itself, and will, as all things, pass on. Nothing, in our lives or in the universes, is infinite. All material things are temporary.

Perhaps the one enduring notion comes from quantum physics. That is best laid out in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: the mere act of observation–of subatomic particles, and, I would add people, plants, even the sun–changes both the observer and the observed. The closer we get to understanding where something is, the more obscure its movement, direction, momentum or inertia becomes. The close we get to understanding an object’s direction, the farther we get from understanding exactly where it is.

I’m OK without god. I think the world would be a better, more humane place if other people would let go of god and understand that divinity stares them in the face every time they look in a mirror.

Always yours,
Patrick

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