Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In a recent conversation with a good friend, the question of the existence of God came up. As a person with a stong belief in this area I welcomed the exchange, and suggested that the terrain of belief could be laid out like a line with three zones: to the right were the believers in God, to the left were the unbelievers, and in the middle were the fence-sitters. Diests, athiests, and agnostics, plain and simple, in my view. My friend disagreed, and now we were off into a proper philosophical discussion!

This probably would not have been a noteworthy discussion but for what appeared to be to me a strange assertion by my friend: he listed himself as an agnostic, but he believed in God. "That is a contradiction!", I claimed. "Not so," said he, because of the way he defined what God is, or what God might or should be. God as a father is not what he had in mind, and god as a natural force wasn't it either. Something else, he said, but what that something was, he didn't know.

"Well," says I, "a God that can't kick ass is not a God worth having!", in my usual disarming and charming way. But this gets me thinking, If the God of Acquinas, who is the God of Divine Providence, who directs everything in the world, who is all knowing, all powerful, and everywhere, is surely a God who could kick ass if he wanted to! But what of the God as clockmaker idea, where God sets the world into motion and then lets people have wills and choice, and we make of the world the mess that it is. It that a concept of God that makes sense in believing in? I'm not so sure.

So I decided to revisit the idea of God one more time, and lay out the question like this: What is God? Please come with some sort of definition in mind, where your idea of God can address things like limits of power, degrees of caring for mankind and you in particular, willingness to step in on your behalf to show his/her care for you, and so forth.

There are many sorts of Gods in the world, some more powerful and some less so. Panthiesm parcels out power to many. Monothiesm aggregates it into one. Vengful, angry Gods are to be avoided. Loving, mothering Gods look out for living things. Where does your God weigh in on the issues of the world and life, and especially, your life?

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