Was going through my Facebook notes this evening and came across this interesting piece i wrote back in February. I thought it would be a nice idea to republish it here for those who are not on my Facebook friends list. It was basically a rough rant and the comments that followed helped build a more solid opinion. Just in case, here’s the url to the original note and its 58 essay-like comments. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=67464546139&comments=
No, I am not talking about the God of Abraham, the one who knocked up a nice Jewish girl, then abandoned both mother and child to fend for themselves (as told in the King James version of the NT).
Actually, I think that Christians would be much better off if they would simply eliminated the OT from their bible entirely, then edit most everything except the sermon on the mount from the NT, and start all over again.
After all, who can argue with love and kindness?
But, I digress. Back to the subject at hand, the existence of gods.
God is a construct of the human mind. God exists between the ears of humans, just like every other concept, notion, or thought. The only requirement for God to exist is for the concept to be between the ears of a believer.
The God of Abraham is just as real as other gods, such as Zeus, Apollo, Odin, Shiva, Vishnu, Kali, etc. (sorry if I omitted your favorite God, there are so many, you know).
One of the most interesting things about religion, whether the Judeo / Christian / Islamic / Mormon tradition, or the religions of the Orient such as Hinduism is that all of them seem to assume the existence of supernatural beings (gods) as a starting point, then develop the rationale to support this assumption.
Gods are as real as any other thought generated in the human brain, so to say, as many atheists do, that gods do not exist is, strictly speaking, not true.
For me, the important question is: where did the idea of gods come from in the first place?
No one knows.
I think it fitting that explanation of where gods came from is found in fiction.
Be that as it may, when we look around us at the magnificence of nature, just like prehistoric humans did, we see a natural hierarchy of creatures; insects, arachnids, all sorts of creepy-crawly things. Then there are the higher animals; birds, rodents, predators of several kinds, etc. There seems to be some sort of progression in complexity, particularly in intelligence and other abilities. It would also have seemed obvious to early humans that our place in this hierarchy was at or near the “top”.
Also obvious to early humans would have been the fact that there are phenomena that are completely out of their control, such as the weather, earthquakes, etc. It seems to be an easy leap for the early humans to imagine some “higher” beings having control of these awesome phenomena. And, thus, gods were born in the minds of our distant ancestors.
Another leap would bring early humans to try pleasing these higher beings by offering them food or other precious commodities in an attempt to win their favor, and thus prevent or lesson bad things from happening. Whether or not this is precisely how gods and religions came about, some similar path must have been followed and expanded over the centuries until writing was invented, and the rest is history, even though the early history is incomplete at best, and no doubt has many errors and omissions.
For better or for worse, gods are here to stay, so we might as well learn to live peacefully with (and, in some cases protect ourselves from) the people who believe in them.