On God - Chez Goodman 
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 Essay  Description
 *On Opinions  A disclaimer and introduction to these essays.
 *On Identity  Some of my thoughts on identity.
 *On God  Some of my thoughts on the nature of God.
 *On Life  Some of my thoughts on the meaning of life.
 *On Humor  Some of my thoughts on humor.
 *On Guns  Some of my thoughts on guns and gun control.

Q. How many solipsists does it take to change a light bulb?
(Answer at bottom.)

Some Thoughts On God

People on Mountaintop Before you can discuss something you have to agree on terminology. I'm not a Scientologist, but they have a saying I like: "Communication is only possible between equals." To that end I present my beliefs in God by breaking them down into categories and discussing each one independently. I basically believe in one god, with different aspects or features. I take a somewhat analytical, "show me" stance when it comes to religion.

I'm not one of those who speak of God as an all-knowing, all-powerful entity with thoughts and feelings looking down at us from on high, nor do I accept that The Bible is more the the Word of God than anything else written by man, as I describe further below.

It feels natural at times to speak of God as 'Him' even though I don't believe in the 'Old Man in the Clouds' concept of God, but I more often think of God as being "Mother Nature" so if I slip and refer to God as he I hope you'll forgive me. (And that She will.) I often cringe when I come across the word God. I hope that if you suffer from that as that you'll bear with me and see that I use it differently than most.

Is God a Thinking, Sentient Entity?

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -Arthur C. Clarke

There may be entities much further advanced that we are, who would have or appear to have powers that we don't. You might call them gods (lower case) but that is a different concept than the God (capital G) being described here, the one God Who isn't *part of* the universe but Who IS the universe.

God as the Universe

To those who don't believe in God I say, "Look around you. Look within you." Whatever you find, that is God. This is the physical aspect of God. Space and time and all the matter and energy within it. Solipsism aside, it's pretty easy for all of us to agree that the universe exists, and if you accept the definition that God includes all of creation, then whenever you see something you're seeing part of God. Do you want to touch God? Just tap your foot.

God as Ruler

If there is no God, then who pops up the next Kleenex? -Art Hoppe

I think this quip is very funny, but it's actually another aspect of God that we can all believe in. As I see it, it IS God who pops up the next Kleenex. If you want to see God in action, just drop a coin. It falls down, obeying God's Law of Gravity and reaffirming Her existence (this presupposes you're on Earth and not in freefall). All of Nature's Laws, all of the laws of physics and math and logic that the universe obeys are the rules of God.

Science strives to understand the workings of the universe and document its underlying operation. The rules of math and logic and physics that scientists have recorded are our human perceptions of what we believe is the nature of the universe. We just have to remember that the universe and everything within must obey the inherent laws of nature. If our theories don't correspond with what's actually happening, then our theories must be modified.

There, that's two down. Do you believe in the God I've just described? It may not be a conventional definition, but it's one that you can see for yourself and doesn't differ too radically yet from most mainstream definitions. But it's only a subset of what people consider to be God.

I can't tell you how the rules came about, or how the universe came about, but we can see that it *is* here and it does follow inherent rules.

Does God Listen to Your Prayers?

God always answers your prayer. But sometimes, the answer is, "No."

The answers to prayers are often found in those who pray.

What is a prayer? A prayer is a request or petition to God, or communing with God.

Everything you do has an effect on the future. When you pray, you're formulating a request in your mind. The act of doing so leaves traces in your behavior, and since you're part of God, it's been 'heard' by God. Praying is a means of focussing yourself on what you want and changing yourself to achieve it. It's an opportunity to listen to yourself, and to listen to what the universe has to offer you.

God as Creator

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Star I've always been bothered by Primal Cause. We're here, and it appears to my eyes that what's happening today is the result of what transpired yesterday. But how did it all start? Was there a cause for every effect, or was there a Primal Cause that started it all, with nothing before? This is the Big Mystery.

Until evidence presents itself as to whether the universe began with the Big Bang, or just a word, I'm stumped. I can't say I believe in God as the Creator. On the other hand, we ARE here, so what started it?

Is The Bible the Word of God?

Bookend I don't mean to offend anyone, but I just don't consider The Bible to be the word of God, except insofar as the men who wrote it are part of God. For one thing, what most of America calls The Bible is an English translation. (For example, many scholars believe that translators misinterpretated the Hebrew word "almah" as "virgin" instead of "young woman" which lead to the refuted belief that Isaiah foretold of a child born to a virgin and Jesus was that child.) Further, I don't believe God wrote The Bible because I don't believe in God as a sentient entity who would write a text for us. I'd sooner believe it was written by space aliens purporting to be gods.

It seems to me that if God was going to write something for us, He'd write it in some godlike fashion so that we could read it regardless of the language we spoke... in fact, regardless of whether we could read, and he'd make it easier to understand.

On Heaven, Hell and the Soul

I don't believe in an immortal soul that survives our death. The spark of life is indeed a marvelous thing to behold, but so is a candle flame, and when the flame is extinguished, the energy is dispersed and all that's left is a cooling puddle of wax. Without a soul, there is nothing to travel to heaven or hell. My theory is that it was all a myth intended to explain the mystery of life, and became a means for the priesthood to instill ethics in people by threatening their existence in the afterlife.

Further Reading

I settled on this view of God in high school, and it's hardly changed much over the years. I never knew what to call this philosophy, or if anyone else shared the same vision. Recent reading has led me to decide that this is a strange hybrid of Religious Humanism and maybe Neo-Paganism: meaning that I relate to Humanism's concepts that humans are responsible for determining their destiny, their conduct and using science and reason to understand the universe and need no supernatural trappings, but where they mostly shun the existence of God, I believe, somewhat like some neo-pagans, that the universe and its laws of physics *are* God. I'd welcome pointers to teachings that coincide with this.

Q. How many solipsists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Who wants to know?

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