On these Blogger pages we explore TOPICS in our desire to respond to Jesus' call to walk with Him in our world as his missionary disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring to humanity the Good News of the Father's love manifested and given in Jesus, the Divine Mercy. G.S.
Is there a god? If there is a god, what difference does that make?
All the pioneers of modern science in the second half of the second millennium declared all that they observed in the universe manifests the qualities and character of a careful designer, the Creator. Richard Dawkins and the "new atheists" - some of whom have their own TV "science shows" - declare that science provides no evidence of god and that science has no need of a god or of such a "hypothesis".
As one example, Neil deGrasse Tyson in his many appearances on Science "shows" on TV and YouTube points to the as yet unexplainable "mysteries" of science as the grounds for belief in God by some people. However, he doesn't seem to address the real science by real scientists who do find scientific grounds in their scientific observations and experiments for belief in a Creator God who is the "Intelligent Designer".
Watch this excellent lecture by scientist Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute to better understand how the worldwide scientific community developed over the centuries, turned away from God, and by more carefully following the science, is now coming back to the "God Hypothesis". CLICK THE LINK
Either the existence and significance of God is of interest, or it's not, and "He" isn't.
If it's "No!"
If God doesn't exist; then the only choice I have is to live my life until I die and then it's all over, in which case I will have gained or lost nothing. However, if God does exist; then it would be wise to take interest and get to know a lot more about God so as to enter into a significant relationship with the Creator of the Universe before the end of my life. Otherwise, once my immortal soul or spirit leaves my body behind in death and I come "face to face" with God; it could be embarrassing. At the very least, I would not be able to claim having shown any interest whatsoever in the Creator of the Universe.
If it's "Yes!"
If on the other hand I believe that God exists, or could exist; then it's like any other human experience. Before I "nail" the interview and get the job I seek, I may know something about that position, but clearly I have a lot more to learn. We learn primarily in two ways: from other people's knowledge and experience - taking courses, reading, studying, listening to live and video conferences and podcasts, and so on - and from our own experience.
This also applies to our human relationships and "getting to know" someone. Initially, I may know "a little" about someone from conversations with others as well as from my initial observations. As I take interest in the other and spend more time with them; I get to learn a lot more about them from what they share with me, but also from continuing observation and personal experience. I learn a lot about others from what I think about them and from how I feel about them and when I am with them. Well, it is much the same with God.
Relating to / with God
Just about every people, tribe, nation, and culture of humanity on Planet Earth has its own "religious paradigm" or religion or "experience of God". What they all have in common is that over time there stand out certain individuals who "have an experience" relating to "the divine" and they then try to express that experience in testimony, teaching, art, or writing. As certain "religious practices" arise in relation to "the divinity"; a new religion is born.
About religions and gods
Depiction of Druid human sacrifices at Stonehenge
In all the "great" and "lesser" religions of humankind, the god or gods are all seen to have similar characteristics: they are "far above" humanity, they are "aloof" of human concerns, they are generally "disinterested" in being involved with human beings, if they show interest it is usually to enhance their own honor and worship, and at worst, they "lord it over" humanity with harsh demands of human sacrifice, that is, that live people should be put to death in their honour and as acts of worship. The motivating factor is universally to "appease the gods' wrath against humans" and to "obtain their favour" with regards to life, health, prosperity, protection from enemies and harsh climate, bountiful crops and children. Even in Islam, which claims to believe in only one God, and that this Allah is benevolent; nevertheless this religious tradition also teaches that their Allah is quick to punish and is "far removed" from humanity and can never be approached. No intimacy is possible with Allah.
God interferes in human history to "choose" the Jewish People
Unlike any other "religion", the faith of the Jewish People is based on the experience of God which their ancestors had and which every Jew, male and female, in every generation can verify in their own personal experience and relationship with the God of their ancestors.
For the first time in human history, God - the Creator of the Universe - interferes in human history be choosing to "reveal Himself" to a concrete individual and to offer to enter into a "covenant" with him. Since this people were a patriarchal culture, it is primarily with men, with the patriarchs of their "tribe", that God chose to relate. In time God revealed to them the history of our human origins in the stories told about Adam and Eve and then Noah.
Book of Genesis: God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob ca 1,850 B.C.
The initial religious history of humanity in relation to God the Creator tells a story about "gradually forgetting all about God", let alone having any significant relationship with God. After the time of Noah and his family's survival of the great flood, people forgot all about God; until He began to "reveal Himself" to Abram whose people lived in Ur of the Chaldees which was around 225 km southeast of where Baghdad is today, where Babylon once stood millennia ago, and about 16 km west of the present bed of the Euphrates River. This is the region which "origin stories" identified as the "original garden" in which humanity came to exist. Abram's people practiced human sacrifice in their tradition, and this was the man to whom God chose to "reveal Himself" and offer a covenant which would last "forever". This is the "story of the patriarchs" through the next 3 generations through Abram's sons Isaac and Ishmael and Isaac's son Jacob and his 12 sons who became the "12 tribes of Israel".
Book of Exodus: God of Moses: the "Torah / Law" ca 1,250 B.C.
Because of famine throughout the Middle East and by divine providence through the treachery of the sons of Jacob who sold their brother Joseph into slavery, all of Jacob's sons ended up taking their father and their whole family to Egypt. Unknown to them, their brother Joseph rose to prosperity as the Pharaoh's "right hand man" through the action of divine providence. In this way, God took care of his "Chosen People" who prospered in Egypt for generations until they became so numerous that after four centuries the new Pharaoh took fright at their growing numbers and began to oppress them. The people cried out to God and He sent them one of their own, Moses, to deliver them. God had to employ drastic and dramatic shows of power to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites, and Moses led them through the desert towards the "Promised Land" promised by God to Abraham as his heritage. While in the desert, God continued to "reveal Himself" to Moses and entrusted Moses with the "Law" or "Torah" enshrining God's Covenant with his People.
Time of the Judges, Prophets, and Kings ca 1,200 to 1 B.C.
Human nature being what it is, we are inclined to "want to go our own way". As a result, God's "Chosen People" generation after generationwere constantly turning away from God. Some of them continued to "cry out to God"; so He sent them judges to govern them and protect them from their enemies. In time He sent them prophets; then the people wanted to be governed by a king like all the other nations around them. In effect, the people didn't like being governed by "God Himself", but He granted their request and gave them a king.
The first king given by God to his People was Saul, but he was too full of himself to obey God's will with care; so God rejected him. His successor David was the greatest King of Israel; son of Jesse and great grandson of Boaz and Ruth, the Moabitess widow who followed her mother-in-law the widow Ruth back to her home in Israel. David was "a man after the Lord's own heart" and the ancestor of Joseph, husband of Mary, Mother of Jesus.
That was not the end of their troubles; on the contrary, the kings often behaved as "rivals" against God and his authority over his People. The time of the prophets continued simultaneously with that of the kings. As they again turned away from God, He allowed them to be taken into captivity in Babylon. After 70 years God raised up a benevolent emperor who allowed them to return to Israel and rebuild their Temple. Like other nations they were overrun by Alexander the Great, and his successors oppressed Israel. Then for a few centuries they had no prophet or king, and God was preparing them for the coming of the promised "Messiah".
God as revealed by Jesus of Nazareth also called "the Christ"
Uniquely though, God - the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - is a "divine being" and not a human being. This single divine being is not a solitary individual but an intimate communion or community of three divine persons. This means that in all that God says and does, all three divine Persons are involved, because "they" do everything together; each divine Person having its unique "place" and "role" within the Trinity.
Whereas in the past, God "played hide and seek" with humanity: He "hid" and they had to "seek" Him. Now the Son of God became human and took on a genuine human life as a man, as the son of Mary, Myriam of Nazareth, daughter of Joachim and Anna. She was married to Joseph son of Jacob, and He helped Mary raise Jesus to manhood. Jesus lived an ordinary life as "son of the Carpenter Joseph" and a carpenter Himself. Then in his final 3 years on Earth, He preached and revealed much about God, whom He called "Papa", and his love for humanity. Then, consistenly with all of human history, the "good guy" Jesus was rejected, falsely accused and condemned, tortured, and executed. True to his prediction, He then rose from the dead and revealed God's plan to give us resurrection after we die.
The life we have within us, containing all that we have ever said, thought, and done, will not be lost when we die. Our immortal soul "contains" all that we are - not unlike the "hard drive" on a pc - and when it is time, God will "raise up our mortal bodies to be like his own in glory", and we will be given to share in God's immortal community life and love.
So, why would we not want to "relate" to God?
However much "progress" humanity may experience, it is up to each and every human being to appropriate for themselves the fullness of life. No one can "get it for us". The wisdom and experience of others cannot be "injected" into us. There is no shortcut "to God" or to wisdom and understanding. It is up to each of us to "make the journey" in spite of the pressures, temptations, and allurements which we face every day of our lives. We must each decide how important God is, and to invest our time and energy in making ourselves open and available to this mysterious "divine Being" who is the Creator of the Universe.