The Idea of God

Sometimes the thing that makes me angriest about religion is how terribly we’ve twisted the idea of God.

The essence of God is something like this: we recognize good and evil in the world around us, and we say, “What if there was such a thing as Ultimate Good? What if there was a single source of all that is good in this world? What if I imagined the highest good that I possibly can, and then added something more, something beyond my imagination? What would that be?” 

And that’s God. 

Except it isn’t. Not anymore, not to most people.

In fact, I suspect that second paragraph made some people uncomfortable because there was an implication that humans invented God.

And we do, by the way.

We also invent everyone around us. We have to. We can’t fully understand them – we can’t even fully understand ourselves. We don’t even remember everything we ourselves do from a physical standpoint, let alone the thoughts and motives behind all our actions.

We create an idea of ourselves in our minds – that’s our personal identity. But it’s not all there is to us.

We also create ideas of other people in our mind – and we believe that’s their identity. Most of us know that we don’t really know their identity, not all of it, but we have to keep our ideas of people fairly simple or we won’t be able to function. But this is why you and I can know the same person and really not know the same person at all – and it’s not that one of us doesn’t know the real them, it’s just that humans are complex and multi-faceted, and we show different sides of ourselves depending on our environment and mood. We both know this person, we just don’t know all there is to them. 

We also create an idea in our mind that we call God. And what if the idea you have of God and the idea I have of God are quite different?

We might both be right, by the way. 

But still, this is where the anger comes in for me. Not because I believe your idea of God is incorrect and mine is absolutely right, but because we’ve taken a beautiful concept and mangled it so horribly that it’s no longer recognizable.

We’ve created a God who no longer means GOOD. We’ve created a God who means a lot of other things. 

For some people, God means things like: Cold. Distant. Uncaring. 

For others, God means: Harsh. Tyrannical. Angry. 

For others, God means: Weak. Passive. Inconsequential.

We have created a God who likes to see us suffer, a God who forbids anything and everything that feels good, a God who hates beauty, a God whose love means nothing, a God who makes up laws with no purpose other than to control us, a God who has no standards, a God who has only our standards, a God who cannot handle our darkness, a God who is not real enough to question, a God we can outshine, a God who is so ugly that we cannot in truth either worship or love him.

Worst of all, we have created a God we can understand. 

A God we can control. 

A God we can use.

And then we get offended when someone uses Him differently than we do.

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