This is not a “there is no God” tirade; quite to the contrary, it is one about God.
I once read somewhere that “if there wasn’t a God, we would have to invent one”. I don’t remember who said it, or where I read it. But it has stayed with me all these years. I love quoting it whenever I find myself in a discussion about God. The advantage of that statement is that it can be used to prove either point of view.
Here I intend to explain God. May sound like biting a bit more than it is possible to chew, but it really isn’t too much when you get down to it, you will see.
The need for a God has under gone a major evolution over time. 5000 years ago when our store of knowledge was at a bare minimum we needed a God to explain the wonders around us. There were too many things unexplained, and it was convenient to attribute it all to a God. Someone big and powerful, up there in the sky, virtually out of reach. The land and the sea were not so much unreachable as the sky. So it stood to reason that God lived in the sky.
In a way, this was the birth of science, as we know it today.
What is science, if not the quest to answer what we do not understand?
Newton wondered why every apple and every other object fell towards the Earth and never away from the Earth. Gravity was discovered in an attempt to answer this, until then inexplicable” phenomenon.
Today with our understanding of gravity and other such phenomenon, it is easy to answer questions like, “why does the moon not fall out of the sky?”
In the “good old days”, we conveniently “blamed” it on God. He made the moon to give us light in the night.
The development of science has rapidly eroded the need for us to turn to God to explain natural phenomenon.
Science has proved that:
The Earth is NOT flat.
The Earth is NOT the centre of the Universe.
The Sun does NOT revolve around the Earth.
The Universe was NOT built in six days.
Man was NOT a creation of God, but evolved from lower life forms.
God does NOT live in the sky.
It is true that there are still phenomena out there that science cannot explain, but that is because we do not have the required knowledge to understand it. As the storehouse of knowledge grows, science will eventually explain everything around us.
However, you cut it, it is not possible for science and God to exist simultaneously. This is proved in the first book of the Bible.
In the Book of Genesis Chapter 2, it says, “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for and maintain it. Then the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die”.
This verse from the holy book of the world’s largest religion is a perfect example of what religions are based on – the denial of knowledge and the condemnation that all knowledge is bad.
Once you can get people to believe in that, you can stand on the nearest rock and deride every bit of original thought as anti-God. Many an inventor, thinker and writer has paid the ultimate price because of this.
Most believers try to play it down by pointing out the it was the tree of knowledge of good and evil that God forbade Adam and Eve to eat from. But what really is knowledge of good and evil other than pure knowledge?
Who decides what is good and what is evil?
The answer is obvious.
It is necessary for religious institutions to control knowledge. Knowledge is dangerous.
Knowledge is the key and every religious institution worth its salt knows that. Is it then surprising that virtually every known religion is in the education sector?
Catholic educational institutions in this manner are the very epitome of hypocrisy.
With knowledge, what once looked miraculous and inexplicable can be made to look very ordinary and pedestrian.
The advancement of knowledge has seen many a popular myth fall by the wayside.
A popular belief was that the Earth was the centre of the universe. It fit in with our need to explain to ourselves that all this was built for us. The trees, the plants, the land, the water, everything was built for us, by our God. So when Copernicus claimed that it wasn’t the Earth but the Sun that was the centre of the Universe, it was a direct challenge to what virtually every popular religion taught. If the Christians hadn’t burned him at the stake, someone else would. He set us out on this path that makes us face our insignificance on almost a daily basis.
As knowledge grew, and we began to understand nature, we began to realize more and more that we were insignificant.
Early religions believed that the heart was the most important part of the body. It was supposed to be what made us special. The early Egyptians would make a mash out of the brain and pull it out through the nose when mummifying their dead. The brain was some cotton-like stuff in the head. It has nothing to do with what we were. It was all about the heart. Today we know otherwise.
Over and over again science has proved that God had less and less to do with things around us. Prayers and penances couldn’t rid man of plagues and malaria, medicines created from nature could.
But all religions have endeavored to keep the faithful in the dark. Banning of books, and condemnation of scientific progress has been the norm.
Genesis Chapter 11 explains to us how God dispersed the people around the globe by forcing them to speak in different languages, all because they decided to build a tower to heaven. Surprisingly the very same God did nothing to stop us from going to space. I guess that was because it was the Communists who did it first.
For long we would justify the story of Noah’s Arc and the Great Flood by using finds of fish skeletons in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges. My mother told me this, and I was born in 1971, a mere three decades ago. Today we know that the fish skeletons are there because the Himalayas came from the sea and it wasn’t the sea that came to the Himalayas.
More and more, stories from the Bible and other books are being treated as fairy tales to be told to children.
Stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are undergoing similar experiences. Things that were attributed to Gods and considered true are today mere fairy tales.
Today there are still inexplicable matters around us. Just because we cannot explain them does not mean that there is a God. All it means is that we haven’t got the requisite knowledge to explain them, and when we do, it will be as ordinary and pedestrian as how we don’t fall off the face of a round Earth.
Let us go back to the knowledge of good and evil. The Catholic Church closed the gates of the Vatican to the Jews when they were trying to flee the Nazi carnage. The selection of every Pope is carried out with a lot of emphasis on the Holy Spirit guiding the College of Cardinals. How did a man selected by God himself allow 5 million of his creation to perish? Is it that every one of those 5 million Jews was unholy?
Another selected by God Pope unleashed the crusades.
Another God tells His followers to kill all the unfaithful.
So what exactly is the knowledge of good and evil? Why does our God not want us to have it?
The answer is plain and simple, if there was really a God he would want us to know about good and evil. It is his representatives on this planet who feel the desperate need to have the power to decide which killing is good and which killing is bad.
The point to concede at this time is the foresight of the man or group of men who wrote that line in Genesis Chapter 2.
So then, if there is no God, why the need to create Him?
As a people we are very aware of our insignificance in front of nature. Each one of us is aware that we are one insignificant member of a race of billions, living on insignificant bits of lands on a large planet, which is itself an insignificant speck in the larger solar system, which is an insignificant speck in a greater galaxy, which is in an insignificant speck in the (currently) immeasurable universe.
That is as far as my knowledge will let me stretch my insignificance.
To understand how frightening this insignificance is to each one of us, we need to just look around us.
We are born into a family where we are the centre of attention. If we are not, we crave it and throw tantrums to obtain it.
Amongst our peers, life is a constant battle for significance, to be the leader of the group.
Though our education we strive to be better than the rest. Why? Because only by being better than the rest do we stop being insignificant.
Our careers are a constant war for recognition.
As we enter the twilight of our lives, the real insignificance of our lives hits us.
This insignificance is what requires us to invent a God. It helps us feel special and wanted. That is in essence what all religions preach – there is a God who notices and records everything you have done. Moreover He built all this for you. So you are special.
Once you believe that, then you are no longer insignificant.
So am I saying that there is no God?
On the contrary, there is a God.
God, the concept, exists within each one of us. There was never a truer statement than “God made man in his likeness.”
Actually that needs to be modified a bit, “Man made God in his likeness.”
Each one of us is the God of our own lives. We decide how to live our lives. We decide on good and evil through our experiences. A person brought up in a home where the parents are constantly fighting and show no love or care will consider it right to hate the parents. Another brought up in a home filled with love will never understand that attitude.
We are what we are not by design, but by our experiences. This makes each one of us unique.
Jesus would go away to talk to his Father from time to time. For this communion he would go to a quiet, lonely place. That scenario is too close to meditation for it not be one.
Put yourself in Jesus’ place. Now compare the two sentences below.
“This temple is useless. There is no God here. I have thought long and hard about this, and I understand this clearly now. Tear it down, and search for the God inside you.”
Mark 11:15, “Then they came to Jerusalem. Jesusentered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts. He turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. Then he began to teach them and said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have turned it into a den of robbers!” The chief priests and the experts in the law heard it and they considered how they could assassinate him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed by his teaching. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.”
Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, all the great religious leaders we know off were given to going off on their own to lonely places in order to communicate with God.
In fact, they were communicating with themselves and meditating on ideas in order to gain clarity.