the problem with god

My Beef With the Big Guy In Two Parts

There are very few topics that are almost certain to cause rifts and divisions, even amongst the closest of friends. Regardless of how delicately you approach the subject, you can almost guarantee that a discussion of religious beliefs will end with somebody feeling offended, marginalised or ridiculed; unless you’re fortunate enough to be talking purely with like minded individuals, in which case it will be less of a discussion and more of an open and shut ‘amen brother’ with either religious or ironic sentiment, depending on the company in question.

Spirituality is something that we take very personally, as it’s a subject on which many of us have spent significant periods of time reflecting in order to articulate, at least on an internal level, how we feel and where we stand. My personal opinions on the matter are many and varied and have endured an almost constant state of flux over the years. The basis of my current convictions can be found below.

NB I think it’s worth noting that the God to whom I’m referring throughout this text is the Christian God; the only one with whom I have any experience. Though I imagine the points raised may resonate for many religions, perhaps especially western varieties.

If you are easily offended, perhaps tune out now. You have been warned.

 

Part One: The Almighty Bollocks

I was raised in an open minded household where we were encouraged from a young age to question the world as a way of formulating opinions that were our own. I was sent to Sunday School every week until I was twelve years old in order that I might be able to make an informed decision regarding my stance on religion. As a teenager, I frequented religious youth groups where the majority of attendees considered themselves to be devout believers (even if many were apparently more than a little confused about what this actually meant). So I guess it would be fair to say that over the years I have more than dappled with religion.

I have a lot of respect for religious parables and the morals of the scriptures; that we should treat others how we would like to be treated and that we shouldn’t steal or lie or covet someone else’s missus are all good ideals by which I am happy to live.

What I don’t like however, is this God character. The original Big Brother, this fellow allegedly has access to all of our innermost thoughts and feelings and is responsible for all the good stuff that happens to us whilst simultaneously staking no claim whatsoever over the bad stuff (which probably occurred as a result of our sinner status to either make us stronger or punish us, depending on which disciple you ask).

I have serious issues with the notion that we’re all dirty sinners who need to be purged through devotion to some omniscient being who apparently created us as a trip for his own ego (‘worship me!’). This is psychological blackmail at its finest. When I was a little girl my mum decided she didn’t want a family any longer and so left for greener pastures, leaving my dad and us four kids to fend for ourselves. After being taught about the power of prayer at church, I prayed to God every night for longer than I can remember so that he might send my mum home. Of course, she never came back. According to the lessons taught at scripture, this meant one of three things: I wasn’t praying for something important enough, God didn’t think I needed the thing for which I was pleading, or I wasn’t a good enough believer to have my prayers answered. None of these reasons are without grim ramifications for the seven year old psyche.

I suppose the point to which I have always returned is that if there is a God, he isn’t a very nice one. War and death, the invention of evil and the alleged role of women aside, the primary reason I don’t think he’s much of a good guy is the way he is trying to trick us. Why should he insist we rest the fate of our eternal lives on a matter of blind faith? Surely he would be happier to know that he had created thoughtful and critical beings who didn’t accept the (let’s face it) whimsical claims written down by some other dude, but rather wanted to know a truth before we would up and die for it. If there was a God, I would have a lot more respect for the guy if he was to come right out and, with a big old PA system rigged up in the clouds by Moses and the roadies say something like: “Look, here I am. I created you guys from nothing but my own mind’s fancy. And I made the sunrise and lady beetles and every single blade of grass, too. Isn’t that excellent? I deserve a bit of praise, don’t you reckon? Think about me on Sundays and try to be good to one another. Then when this is all over, come on up here and we’ll all hang out. Because I love you. Peace out, guys.”

Instead, this God fellow wants us to believe in him for no reason other than just because. And for those of us who weigh it all up and conclude that we think the notion of an afterlife is pretty far fetched, and that the scientific explanations of things sits more comfortably with us? We are punished by an eternity of fire and brimstone. Nah, man. Not cool.

 

Part Two: Making Peace

After fighting with God for so many years, one cannot help but feel a little exhausted. So recently I made a peace with the topic of God and this has resulted in my achieving a genuine sense of inner calm regarding this issue. You see, I have always been a spiritual person, if in a very secular way. Every morning when I wake up, I fill my lungs with air and smile that I am alive. I go for walks in the evenings and get so filled with the beauty of things that I get this uncontrollable desire to yell really loudly and hug perfect strangers with a firmness that could be disarming. Seeing the moon glowing up in that crazy blue and the waves thundering onto the shore overwhelms me to a point of breathlessness.

Recently it hit me that perhaps these are feelings that some people attribute to their God. That for them, these feelings are God; that he is just a word they can use to sum up their love for the world, for their lives, for friendships and family. And I realised, too, that when we die, nothing ever ceases to be; the energies that allowed us to laugh during our time are simply released into the world where they are absorbed by other living things, so that the boom that beats my drum might one day help a flower to bloom or a butterfly to break free of its cocoon, or perhaps something less poetic but equally as deserving. : )

Since time and memoriam religion has had this fatal ability of dividing us all. Surely in the twenty first century we have the mental tools required to realise that as a collective humanity we have more commonalities than we do differences and that this truth extends to religion.

For me, there is no God in the sense that the Bible dictates. Rather, God is simply a metaphor created to explain to small children the divine nature of life. In which case, God is neither good nor bad. She doesn’t favour righteousness over other human conditions, she doesn’t punish or reward and she has no idea or interest in what you are thinking. In saying that, she is very beautiful, and without her we wouldn’t be here.

It’s time to stop being accountable to archaic scriptures and the conventions of organised religion which were set forward to control the masses all those years ago. The folks of the past were unwillingly the ignorant and the indoctrinated. In the twenty first century, the Bible should be considered nothing more than a literary masterpiece and an historical artefact. At this pivotal point in the pilgrimage of humanity, let’s take charge, and allow our minds to be the key to our freedom.

 

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14 thoughts on “the problem with god

  1. Many religious teachings have been edited numerous times over the long span of history. As such the messages are skewed. In addition, a lot of the descriptions are just metaphors and parables. Things get convoluted when people take the meanings too literally. Intuitively you know the truth. Your cognizance is the key. Blessed is the human being who is able to overcome the ‘amnesia’ and remember who they are. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

  2. Well said 🙂 I related to much of this and wish more people operated with this train of thought. I’ve tried to write my thoughts on the matter but I must say, you structured it better and put it more eloquently than I ever could. I enjoyed reading this!

  3. For me, ‘God’ is a an extremely long winded and elaborate way for humanity to admit it’s fear of death.

    It can also be a tool with which to create ‘acceptable’ ignorance and subjugate people into a singular view.

    Originally it gave people focus and brought them together, taking scattered individuals and giving them a single banner under which to rally. On the back of war over gods, civilization was born, with the ‘God(s)’ who had the stronger, smarter and more charismatic followers creating an ever growing horde to dominate and subjugate the weak, bringing ever larger numbers together and necessitating the basis for the structure of modern civilization.

    I have no issue with this, without ‘God(s)’ escalating war from simple tribe clashes to great battles, where thousands or more were sent to their deaths, humanity would never have progressed this far. War is one of the, if not the single, greatest driving force(s) behind our evolution – and historically religion is one of the, if not the single, greatest driving force(s) behind war. So when an atheist sits back smugly laughing at the ‘stupidity’ of religion, they ironically have ‘God’ to thank for the reasoning skills that lead them to that decision.

    After all I have said, we are just consciousnesses peering into and existence we can never understand, so to discount the possibility of the existence of God entirely is just as foolish as ignorant unquestioning faith.

    The real question is whether ‘God’ still has a place in today’s world, or whether it has become an outdated concept that does more harm than good.

  4. I don’t necessarily agree with everything you said, but I just had to tell you that I think you wrote this beautifully. It’s nice to hear differing opinions that aren’t attacking or accusatory. I’m still trying to find my stance with all this religion stuff and while I don’t think God is some abstract idea or that the bible is nothing more than a historical artifact, you do make some interesting points. I think part of the problem is that the bible is so easy to misinterpret. It’s also a big problem that people will read it and only take the parts that they want to hear from it without considering the full context of a passage. We have too many religious leaders interpreting it in a way that serves their own interests rather than the interests of God, which is what they’re supposed to be teaching. That’s not to say that I know so much about God because I certainly don’t and have a hard time swallowing a lot of things myself, but that’s supposed to be what the bible is; God’s word; not our own & not what we think it should be or what we can twist the scriptures into. Anyway, I look forward to reading more from you. Again, your writing is beautiful!

    • Thanks, Beth! I’m so glad you stopped by and pleased you enjoyed the post, regardless of differences in opinions. You are right; a big problem with religions of any persuasion isn’t the religion itself, but how people choose to interpret the scripture. As with everything, I guess with the subject of belief, the best we can do is follow our hearts. If we do that, surely we can’t go wrong. x

  5. Pingback: Love All Blogs » the non-profit making, altruistic blog showcasing site » 27-02-12 Love Politics Weekly Showcase

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