Is God big enough?

The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God, the capitalized version; God Almighty, Jehova, Yahwey, Allah, or any variation on the Abrahamic names for the ultimate power. There are divisions about exactly what God is and how God feels about and is inclined in favor or against a long list of activities and actions. These divisions are in urgent need of reconciliaition in order to deal with the era of global interdependency.  Is the God of all these diverse interpretations big enough to deal with it?

Now it could be that is the wrong question because if God is big enough to want humans to undergo a few purgings then so be it. True, the Abrahamic God has a substantial record of pestilence, revenge, and slaughter so there is always the possibility that we have it coming to us — pick your reason.

It seems to me that is a cop out position, however, if one also claims personal responsibility. Wouldn’t the ultimate personal responsiblity be not screwing up so much that God wants to smack us across the head? So it seems having as an "out" God’s punishment may make it easier to avoid changes that are needed.

It may be that we need God to either change or simply make clear to all who call your name that the world is not a zero sum game. So many who are believers insist it is in fact a zero sum existence — there are winners and losers and "my God is truer than your god."

Robert Wright argues in The Evolution of God that the concept of God has evolved over the eons, just as all of existence has evolved. He carefully traces this process often making the case for unconventional understandings.

What called out to me from his works is that we need to help God reveal to us the possibility that in all aspects we can live in a world where the existence of winners does not mean there are losers.

It takes a great God to create that world.  It would call on us to grow up to the point we drop our ways that do not fit in that world, those that are intolerant, selfish, partisan, sectarian and divisive ways.

In one community it is the prayer to have one’s character defects lifted by a higher power. To those of faith it may be God’s grace; there are so many ways that can be expressed and absorbed. It is the life work of many of us.

This could be called a humble way of being, as one really has to look upon differences as natural, not something having the power to exalt one over another. For one person, one nation, one people to honor and appreciate rather than cause hatred and discord.

Pollyanna it may be. But I cannot even consider believing in any understanding of God this calls for less.  God has evolved. "There ain’t gonna be war no more."

That is what god told me anyway.

29 Responses to "Is God big enough?"

  1. woody188  August 3, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I think you are right about the end of war coming. But it won’t be until after the next big one which will be so horrific we’ll lose that appetite for destruction along with huge swaths of people simply wiped out.

    Folks claiming to talk with God frequently start the wars, not end them.

    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
    R U Main Core?

  2. bryan mcclellan  August 4, 2009 at 1:05 am

    When free will is rescinded by Gods intervention IAM calls it Mother nature. In and of that vein, were I to be the originator of this experiment, why would I intervene betwixt my control groups?

    Take a Saganesque look at the cosmos and tell me we are alone.The utter vastness of the known universe totally contradicts all the theistic pap that keeps us at each others throats. Time after time, “man lives, man dies, and it’s all vanity” (CAKE). Talk about mans expanded universal ego. Spock said as much and more.

    I am of the belief that faith is a private matter and that vast cathedrals of monolithic demonstration, whether they be physical edifices or a message by a preacher from the mount can provide no succor compared to a clear conscience.

    What truly brings strife to man is that inability to bend others to his will with Iron, or other means, and among those who seek these powers we have witnessed the worst and the best of mans free will.

    We are not getting out of here alive, and that very fact is hidden by the so called Shepherds in their pursuit of the crux of our wealth and prosperity;
    Our living, spiritual, conscience.
    Forgive them, they know not what they do?

    We, Mankind could last and possibly pull back the curtain if a lesson could be taken seriously from Matthew 6:6, and all the while refrain from foisting our personal beliefs on our fellows for power in pursuit of avarice.

    Phil, are you asking for man to step up, or hoping for the evolution of the ever evolving God ?

  3. Phil Hoskins  August 4, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Phil, are you asking for man to step up, or hoping for the evolution of the ever evolving God ?

    Are those two things or one seen from a different perspective?

    Is that not the change we can live with?

    Phil Hoskins

  4. bryan mcclellan  August 4, 2009 at 4:07 am

    It appears to be chicken and eggs, Tree in the forest, else it remains mostly carbon based logic, would that it registers to the few.
    This is where survival and Tribal cross paths becoming two things in one. It’s as Cosmic as dirt with spiritual flavor.

    Maybe I’m making excuses, because I can’t make as much out of any reason/proof to account for all this division and at the same time, understand, they have become as useless as a soup sandwich until you’re out of soup.

  5. storky  August 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?” — Epicurus

  6. AustinRanter  August 5, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    So while god seeks to know him(her)(it)self by becoming a thing…through creation. It seems to me that people of the planet earth better devise more effective ways of dealing with their mutual dependence in a much more civil way.

    In other words, humankind best snap out of the notion that something else outside of our “natural existence” be should responsible for providing our needs, managing our all of the elements necessary to co-existence.

    If we can all see that spirituality is how we feel connected to our families, communities, our world…and individually derive at a sense of meaning and purpose that comes from within ourselves…then we might all wake up and discover that the world has become spiritually, physically, and mentally bankrupt and do something about it.

    It’s time everybody realizes that we (everybody that exists) must share labor, resources, and problem solving to qualitatively and quantitatively enhance our existence and to ensure that we participate in maintaining the tools and means to survive ourselves.

    I’m not talking about a communistic form of life in any sense of the term or meaning of communism. I’m saying that we take off the blinders and see our common needs. We don’t have to kill each other over those common needs. We don’t have to steal from each other over the common needs.

  7. oceanika  August 5, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    How do you know you’re God?

    Simple. When I pray to Him, I find I am talking to myself.

    Peter O’Toole, “The Ruling Class” – Keep Films, 1972

  8. numan  August 5, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    It is the Last Judgment. God stands before the Pearly Gates dividing the people into two groups. To the group on His right He says, “Oh, My true and faithful Atheists, well done! I created the world without any evidence of My existence; indeed, all the evidence led in the opposite direction! I gave mankind the god-like power of reason, and you, noble atheists, used that gift properly and courageously! The false promises of religion did not mislead you; you resisted the lure of fables backed by authority; childish hopes of comfort and salvation did not deter you from uncompromisingly following the path of reason, as you saw it, to its final conclusions. Even ridicule,
    discrimination and persecution did not daunt you; the talents which I gave you, you used and increased; for your intelligence and courage, for your ability to reject folly and seek wisdom —Welcome! Enter into Eternal Glory!”

    Then God turns to the group on His left and says, “You religious fools! You infantile cowards! Through fear you refused to grow up and become adults. You clung to fables and just-so stories. You were unwilling to exercise the intelligence which I gave you as my most priceless gift! No absurdity was too great, no fairy tale too outrageous, provided it gave you childish comfort and the vain hope that no matter what crimes you committed, some Outside Power would reach down and save your unworthy butts! You have wasted and corrupted My gifts! My universe has no place for such as you; I reject you utterly! Into the lake of Eternal Fire with you, and be consumed!

  9. ekaton  August 8, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Since there is no “GOD” this is all rather moot and childish.

    Kent Shaw

  10. storky  August 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

    No doubt childish, but only as moot as you wish to make it.

  11. bryan mcclellan  August 9, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Therein lies, a spiritual argument of class,
    or most prominently,
    the lack of affiliation.

    If a man lives in the woods of explanation for empathy’s sake, man only derives of himself. That he must face.

    Islands of community, little help.
    ..A hand extended is either in your heart or not.

    …The few, see the fewness of that heart and hand,
    as their tool.

  12. bogofree  August 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I’m an atheist and have been for about as long as I can remember. Being an atheist has certain liabilities as I have seen first hand the comfort of belief can bring those in need. I do not have that option. Most folks I know are believers and a few are what you may classify a bit over the top. They finally have the message that I will be exceedingly happy for them to pray for me but I will not pray with them.

    Now I also do have a significant problem with some atheists who are just as far over the top as those zealots I have mentioned above and it is a matter of manners. I find nothing wrong with respecting public religious ceremony nor to I have a problem with saying my own form of Grace when asked to do so. I can go to church and go through the required motions without saying a prayer or vowing any type of allegiance to a deity. Matter of respected those in whose territory you are residing in. I have no problem realizing that a significant part of our history and culture is tied to religious beliefs and so be it. The lines have been fairly well described by the SCOTUS. Live with it.

    I am not here to toss around snarky remarks or to make profound statements extracted from religious and non religious text. I do think there is a certain element that feels God is on their side – well that is their choice and if they wish to invoke her name to attempt to cement a point of view it will also tell you something about them. Tread with caution.

  13. pinklaptop02  August 12, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    It’s hard for me not to believe in a higher power when I look at simple logic such as the sun following its same pattern rising in the morning and going down at night, clouds moving and gathering beyond my control and understanding to water parched ground, animals that are incomparable in knowledge to a human feeding their young ones everyday, spiders constructing beautifully complex strong webs with precision, the beautiful colorations and detailed placement of color on a lion to help him blend with his environment, and so on.

    Is all of this done by accident or is it a result of years and years of environmental change? Who changed it? If you say evolution then you definitely can’t tell me that a Ford model T constructed in the early 1900′s if left alone would’ve evolved into a 2010 Ford Mustang without man’s intervention. No, the manufacturer has to improve on the model T to become the Ford Mustang. If this is the case, then there has to be a manufacturer of nature and humans. It’s not that hard…simple!

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  14. Phil Hoskins  August 13, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Of course the issue is not whether there is a God, but rather is your god big enough for the needs of today.  Is God big enough to not need to seek ill for those who do not believe the same as you?

     

    Is god gracious enough to include everyone without preconditions, to make sure that no one, even non-believers and infidels to win all the time?

    Phil Hoskins

  15. AustinRanter  August 3, 2009 at 12:05 am

    Phil,

    Here in America, you may as well be talking to rabbits about safe sex and birth control.

    Humanity just hasn’t evolved enough to live with the reality of mortality. The promise of living forever it s very strong drug. Drugs create illusions, but also a very strong denial additive.

    Most people can’t see immortality created from technology…even though its in process as we speak. But nobody wants to be left behind or be the sacrifical lamb. In other words, “damn the future generations, I want it to be today”.

    Most people remain children like in so many ways throughout their lives, regardless of age…and need a parent figure that can save them from themselves. Life is scary,uncertain, and it can be unforgiving and cruel. Surely there is something somewhere that can save humanity from such atrocities.

    Thus far…no evidence of such an entity…at least for me.

  16. Phil Hoskins  August 3, 2009 at 12:12 am

    I think "no evidence" is too strong, AustinRanter, maybe stronger than you intended.  For there is much evidence of benevolence, selflessness and other win-win strategies around us.

    I wonder, however, if a conspiracy among us mortals might kick start the almighty to shape us up with love rather with wrath.

    Phil Hoskins

  17. styllfree  August 3, 2009 at 11:13 am

    God exists as surely as sparrows perched on the birdfeeder out back, munching seeds and tossing them upon the ground below. Styll

  18. numan  August 10, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    The minor premise of your syllogism appears to be missing.

  19. WaltervdH  August 3, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    God is, always was, and always will be; the Creator of the Universe, and every being and every thing. God is, “big enough” to do anything—-He is not the problem.

    The problem is, as always, with people, who distort and pervert God’s Will for their own, selfish purposes.
    Are human beings big enough to follow a few simple rules? Obviously not, it appears.

  20. ekaton  August 8, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    “The problem is, as always, with people, who distort and pervert God’s Will for their own, selfish purposes.”

    So, then, you are able to discern “God’s Will”? Good to know. I may need to call upon you one day if I ever need to know.

    How can people “distort and pervert God’s Will”? Is not “God” all powerful. How can an all powerful his/her/its will be perverted by a mere mortal?

    Has it ever occurred to you that your “God” may NOT just be all love, altruism and goody goody wanting the best for humanit? Perhaps “God” is just one evil mother*****r and everything on earth is playing out according to his/her/its plan?

    You are poor and destitute because it is God’s Will. You are filthy rich because it is God’s Will. Your babies just were blown to tiny shreds by a missle from a drone. It is God’s Will. You refuse to assist a homeless person. God’s Will again. God’s Will. God’s Will. God’s Will. If your child dies a horrible death from some ugly disease, it is surely God’s Will.

    A benevolent “God”? Really? Certain of that, are you?

    God killed my brother. God can go fuck himself.

    Kent Shaw

  21. AustinRanter  August 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    DISCLAIMER….

    I’ve never exhibited any pretense about my not believing in a supernatural creator, designer, or any other entity that might be described as the western version of god (or any other described god emanating from humankind). And, I won’t shy away from my fundamental beliefs as a point of discussion about the contents and context of this column and thread.

    Voicing my beliefs or opinions isn’t about what seems to be unsolvable, undebatable issue (without bloodshed) of the existence of god vs. no god.

    In America, I am (1) out of (10) persons who is a non-theist.

    I usually invoke mini-riots in a small environment such as CHB when I opine about any topic that is connected to the relation of humankind and god. “That’s not my intent.”

    All of the above being said…I’m just expressing my opinions from a non-theist point of view.

    I’m not trying to start an unholy or holy war with theist, but I’d like to offer an opinion based on my core beliefs.

    OPINIONS

    I don’t think that there is anything that humankind, as a whole, can do (or rather “will do”) to accept the humanistic reality that we all have a mutual responsibility for and to each other for survival of the human species.

    We humans (along with all other species) are interdependent.

    The reasons I see that exists that prevent humans from allowing themselves to totally engage in acts of selflessness and love toward all of humanity (along with all other species), in my opinion, are fairly simple.

    1) For the most part, humans don’t understand (nor will accept) that we are like one giant colonial organism. In other words, every human being is mutually dependent on the other. We all need each other to survive as a species.

    2) All too often the belief in a religion, that revolves around a omnipotent creator of the universe, that monitors and intervenes in events and individual lives, will significantly diminish or totally negate our sense of responsibilities to, and the necessities of, working in concert with all of our fellow beings not just for enhancing the quality of our lives, but for our very survival of our species (and other species that we rely on).

    3) Too many can’t see the equality of humanness in others outside of their own culture, thus wiping out chance of grasping points (1) and (2) above…despite the teachings of their god that all life are equal parts of that god’s creation.

    4) “God will provide”, as the saying goes…so, why should we?

    5) We all see ourselves as biological robots of sorts…or under the control of something or somebody else (other humans or authorities) who does, or wants to, manage every facet of our lives. Given such circumstance, we all surrender ourselves and yield to those entities the power to manage everybody else’s lives along with ours. Once again we’re all relieved of the reality of our mutual dependence that is so necessary for our species survival.

    6) Bottom line…we just don’t believe that we profoundly need each other…and that includes the necessity of, and roles played by all living things for the survival of our planet.

    If You Don’t Believe You Need Others, Then:

    a) trash all of the clothing you bought that were made by other.

    b) get rid of your cars that were made by others.

    c) move out of your home, which was made by others

    d) give away all of your food goods that were purchased, which were produced by others.

    e) never attend any art event, whether it is a concert, motion picture, painting or sculpture gallery, which came from the creation of others.

    Need I go on?

    Humans just haven’t evolved enough to appreciate their mutual dependence (or even believe that such dependence exists).

    In our lifetimes, forget humans engaging in daily acts of selflessness, respect, and love toward all of humanity for our mutual benefit, prosperity, and survival as a species.

    The evolution of “God” with humans seems to play out to be a huge part of our problems, not the solution.

  22. appian99  August 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    The human need to explain the magic and mystery of existence led them to create god (little ‘g’). Human sentimentality, avarice and irrationality causes some to persist in the illusion of the big guy in the sky as well as life after death. Having a spiritual perspective and basic decency toward others has very little to do with the farce that religious dogmatism perpetuates on this planet. You can call it faith or belief or whatever you want, but it still all falls under the definition of superstition. Maybe what we really need to ‘grow up to’ is the fact that we each have personal responsibility for what we create in the world — as well as what we destroy. Anybody up for a rousing discussion of how many angels can now dance on the point of a needle? Anybody got a clue?
    http://the-brights.net/

  23. storky  August 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    There is no magic to existence, just circumstance and luck.

    I would argue that the need to worship deities detour us from moral and ethical behavior.

  24. jmvizanko  August 3, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    “Two hands working do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.” – unknown

    Until we have a reason to think that god has anything to do with what’s going on in our world (and I wonder why so many think we do), why should we assume it’s on anybody’s shoulder other than our own to make this the best world possible? Like was mentioned before, believing god is going to take care of things, and we’re going to heaven anyway, just leaves people complacent about doing their best in this life to enjoy life to the fullest and try to leave the world a better place.

    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.” – Thomas Jefferson

  25. oceanika  August 3, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    By starting your essay using the frame of the American belief in [a] God, you have effectively closed off all meaningful discussion. As framed, this discussion will take two paths: the religious answer “our god is all powerful, end of discussion”; and the secular answer, “why are we talking about a supernatural being?”

    If you “believe” in a supernatural “overlord” then definition is dictated by orthodoxy; if you have your own definition, good luck on forming yet another religion/sect/schism. I find it hard to believe that any “overlord” would accept being defined by a mere mortal. Also, don’t we already have enough people who believe in the same god accusing each other of heresy, “false beliefs?”

    If, as you quote: “Robert Wright argues in The Evolution of God that the concept of God has evolved over the eons”, then god can only be an invention of men’s’ minds, in which case god won’t do you any good.

    I’m mostly puzzled why you would hope for an almighty supernatural being to solve the problems of the natural world when all the sacrifices, invocations and prayers, so far, have not produced any such results. Your reward is in heaven but you’ll have to die to collect.

  26. Phil Hoskins  August 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I’m mostly puzzled why you would hope for an almighty supernatural being to solve the problems of the natural world when all the sacrifices, invocations and prayers, so far, have not produced any such results. Your reward is in heaven but you’ll have to die to collect.

    I don’t think I made any such suggestion, but it would appear I have not made the point I intended.

    I am unconcerned about whether there is a God or not. But the fact that most of the world is convinced there is such a thing causes me to wonder what might be possible if the various versions and conceptions of humans in that regard were bigger.

    Bigger in the sense that God does not take sides, does not smite anyone and instead respects every concpetion of an almighty as equally valid, or if you prefer, uninformed.

    In fact, in re-reading my commentary, isn’t it clear I am suggesting that humans might take on the task of helping god evolve to such an entity, if in fact, God is not already there and some refuse to acknowledge it?

    Phil Hoskins

  27. ekaton  August 8, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    “if you have your own definition, good luck on forming yet another religion/sect/schism”

    As is so happens, I DO have my own definition(s).

    How is it then that I have no need or desire to form any kind or type of “religion” or “sect” or “schism”? I have my beliefs. You are welcome to yours. I won’t push by beliefs onto you. If you try to push your beliefs onto me you will be met at the very least with intensly and intentionally rude behavior.

    Kent Shaw

  28. woody188  August 3, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    duplicate entry removed by poster

  29. oceanika  August 4, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I support the spirit of your essay, just not the rhetorical structure.

    The question I was asking was why involve the supernatural? Religion is by its very nature, irrational. I don’t mean this pejoratively, but by definition; one believes because of faith, not logic. This may be a good foundation to mobilize the masses but I believe you would reap the opposite of what you wish.

    Monotheism (not to single out any one type) is probably the most devisive form of religion; how can it be otherwise when one group claims the one true god and everyone else is deceived. The distrust, the dismissal of others and the antagonism that ensues, gives ample evidence that the God “the overwhelming majority of Americans believe in” separates rather than unites.

    There is a saying to the effect: “There are good men in the world doing good and evil men doing evil, but for good men to do evil requires religion.”

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