Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

God's Attributes? OK!

I really apologize! I had no idea you thought all this time I was just talking about "random, unspecified God" - I guess I took it for granted that we're talking about God. Just, you know, that same God that people throughout the ages, starting at a pretty barbaric level and working themselves up to huffing heights of inventiveness, have ascribed all kinds of attributes to. Most of those attributes seem ludicrously specific to me! Just some excuse to tell someone what to do: "God says don't eat hot dogs." BLASPHEMER!! God didn't say that! You did. I saw. Your lips were moving.

Kidding on the blasphemy. These little dietary rules and behavioral observances, restrictions and dedications, they're perfectly harmless and trivial in my view. Mosaic Law was a way to live one's life as a form of prayer. Beautiful, but I'm very glad I'm not bound to it! There's only one truly considerable blasphemy, in my view. It is three words: "God says kill." We must combat it, but we shouldn't be surprised when we see it. In every age, people of bad will will use every good, bad, or indifferent thing they can to shore up their power and justify their abuses as virtues. Church-based power structures have been one of the biggest targets for that in the past, and it's usually pretty easy to see what's going on. Human greed, grubby and bloody and nasty, uses any and every means to try to cast itself in a good light. Many times the power-mad will claim God's will, to justify their hate, or their greed or lust for worldly dominion. It is so easy to convince people that God shares their hate for the unbeliever, or the wrong-believer: the Samaritan.

But I don't know, somehow it always seems pretty clear to see this when it happens. When people misuse God's name to justify hate and wrath and judgment of their own, it's pretty easy for me - a Christian - to set their gospel against that of Christ.

I believe in one God, omnipotent, creator of all that is, knows all that there is to know, sees all that there is to see, created us for some reason (and who cares what that reason was? I trust God it's a good one), created the universe as a convenient location in which selves could be naturally generated, grow and learn, and self-determine who and what they were going to be. All in a natural and realistic setting! Maybe God thought the universe was cool. Wanted to show it off? Maybe God wanted to see what gifts we would make of ourselves, to each other and to God. But again, though: who cares? And: who can say? Who can say what God's reasons are? Because I believe God exists, I don't strain to dictate God's reasons to you. Not my job. God's got God's reasons covered.

Just so, with God's specific aspects and attributes. Ultimately if I'm wrong on any particular trait, I trust God to set me straight. Because, you see, I think God exists. So all the specifics of God's setup, I leave to God. It's no big deal to me. Personally I picture God almighty as an infinite being of spirit. But if God has a beard, or (God forbid) a penis, I don't care - if that's the way God wants to swing, swing away God!

None of this is anything unusual, theology-wise. No breakthroughs here. This is plain vanilla God, my conception is harmonious with that of thousands of years of theologians. I'm not very inventive when it comes to God. I even believe in Jesus: a unique instance of infinite, all-pervasive all-transcendent ever-present God choosing also a self-limitation, incarnation at the same time as a fully human homo sapien. I do believe in that. "What good did it do us?" is a reasonable question. I've got some personal feelings on that score, strong ones, but not really germane to the basic question about God's attributes.

Again: I expect God will set me straight on each unimportant detail I could have gotten wrong. If there is a God, those details don't particularly matter squat to me.

You see how careful I am always, to use phrases like "if there is a God." I haven't the slightest doubt there is a God. Not honestly, not in my heart. Oh, I can see quite clearly that it is possible God might not exist. I see quite plainly that the universe does not require God's existence in any way. But it's one thing to concede the possibility of something, and another thing to actually go in for it.

Why, I've known atheists aplenty who can concede that God's existence is possible. So's God's nonexistence. The mere possibility of a thing is no reason to say you believe what you honestly don't believe.

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