Friday, January 8, 2010

Which God ... No Really?

So the next nagging question becomes which god is God? It may be plausible to accept our current definition of God without Him having to be the one from the Judeo-Christian Bible (although this source seems to have the only plausible explanation for the existence of evil - [see the previous sections on existentialism]). We know God is completely 'good', He has existed forever, He is the author of Love, Freewill (i.e. choice), Emotions, and the laws of physics, science, etc.. In short, we have determined that God is omnipotent, and benevolent. But doesn't more than one religious belief system claim these characteristics for their own 'version' of God? It is arrogance for any created being to assume they could ever 'fully' understand what God is, but that leaves us far from being totally ignorant on the subject as well.

So why is my God better than your god? Ouch. Sounds a little cocky doesn't it? To begin, it is necessary to explore another avenue of the definition of what 'Love' means. Beyond the simple chemical reactions we normally attribute to romantic love, are other deeper applications of the term. For instance another popularly understood use of the term applies to the relationship between parent and child. Love in this case is anything but romantic (Woody Allen and Sigmund Freud's views notwithstanding). Love takes on characteristics such as comforting, protecting, caring for another, nurturing, supporting, and yes even sacrificing for another becomes a key ingredient in the definition of true love. All these attributes I just described can and sometimes do appear in the context of romance, but for purposes of this example, please try to focus on them purely in the parent-child sense.

Attempting to measure the depth of one's love for another is often done by how much one does for another, or how much one gives up for another. If I never give anything of high value to my children, not time, not affection, not respect, not support - Do I truly love them? If I granted their every request, and their every whim was immediately gratified, despite what I believed was truly in their own best interests - is that considered love? How many people can truly say they are where they are in this world, without the sacrifice of anyone else in their lives? We love to toot our own horns about the level of accomplishment we have made, but when closely examined there are usually others who contributed if not sacrificed for our success. Most parents spend the majority of their own lives trying to improve the lives of their children. Most children don't recognize it or appreciate it, until they see it in themselves as they repeat the cycle with their own kids. Why do we do this? What it is about love that inspires us to sacrifice our self-interest for the benefit of another? Simple preservation-of-the-species is not nearly enough to cover the depths of a mother or father's love for their child, whether biological or not. Could this be a God-like characteristic that the author of this Emotion fully understands - and experiences Himself?

What is the key difference between the God found in the Bible and other potential suitors: the level of sacrifice the Bible God does for His errant creations. In the Bible, God is described as existing in three parts, a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit. All united in purpose, all considered equal in power and ability. But there does seem to be a pecking order in that God the Father seems to be what we understand about Father figures - whereas God the Son appears more personally identifiable to us. Given the unity of thought, purpose, and intent this should not be, but human nature being what it is, our perceptions of hierarchy persist.

Picking up where we left off in a previous section regarding the prologue of our existence, it turns out that God goes ahead with our creation in spite of the fact that He has just won a recent war over the number three guy in existence (Lucifer, now renamed Satan). Before we go even one step further, you need to consider something. God is the author of choice, but as we established He is also omnipotent and benevolent. So even before we were created, God knew what choice we would make. Were we predestined then for failure, quite the opposite. Were we predestined then for ultimate death and non-existence, again no. It turns out, that even before our existence; a plan was formed by the Bible God for our redemption (i.e. the saving of man, from the choice he was likely to make). The plan consisted of essentially allowing man a second chance after the original choice he made. That second chance however, would not be cheap, nor would there be a 3rd, 4th, or 5th chance to change our minds. In order for the even the second chance to exist, a death had to occur. And only God himself, in the form of the Son, could make this sacrifice in order to offer man a second shot at reconciliation with Him, and the Father.

Here is the fundamental difference between my Bible God and ALL the others: My God was willing to die Himself for the creatures He made. He loved us SO much He would sacrifice His Son, the glory of heaven and perfection, and die a criminal's death, tortured by the very creatures He was here to save. Where has Mohamed ever offered to literally be tortured and killed in order to save the infidels who do not believe in him? When did Buddha, ever sacrifice himself for his followers or the unenlightened? Jim Jones, Harry Krishna, David Koresh, any current sect leader, do they ever seem to completely lay down their own lives in order to spare their followers any pain. The Hindu gods represent all kinds of human emotion, strengths, and weaknesses, but none do the work of redemption on behalf of their disobedient followers. You incur these gods anger by noncompliance; they do not sacrifice themselves to help you see you have other choices.

My God did all this for His enemies. My God did all this in order that we could 'choose' to become friends again. The nature of every other religious philosophy holds one thing in common - the responsibility for the ascendency of man lies in his own lap. Every religion but one, requires man to achieve his own salvation by his own human means. Only Christianity recognizes man's true inability to save himself. And ONLY the Christian God is willing to sacrifice Himself to the point of death, for creatures who would still not choose to follow Him. This is the depths to which God is capable of loving, and I believe it will take an eternity to begin to understand only a little what that means.

Discovering the true God does not end our difficult questions however, nor should it. But it does begin to shed some light on the meaning of our lives, of our individual lives. Discovering the true God puts the existence of evil into context along with assurances that evil will not be tolerated forever. In a future next post we will discuss the meaning of the individual, as well as set aside some myths we cling to that make it hard to reconcile a loving God with what we see around us.

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