Thursday, May 29, 2008

The nature of God

A meme snagged from The Velveteen Rabbi:

1. if the nature of god is omnipotent, benevolent, and anthropomorphic (that god is a person, who sees suffering as wrong, and can change all of it), why does god not act to relieve all suffering, or at least the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest amount of people the greatest amount of time?
2. if you were god, and you were omnipotent and benevolent, how would you respond to suffering?
3. if this is not the nature of god, what is the nature of god, that allows suffering in the world?
4. if these are the wrong questions to ask, what are the right ones?

1. My personal view of divinity does not admit omnipotence, however I believe the Gods have so much power over us and so much knowledge, that it is practically omnipotence. I also do not necessarily agree that divinity is benevolent. My experience with the Gods shows them to be largely benevolent, but sometimes they do things that I do not understand, and that seem less than benevolent. Regardless, my answer is the same.

I prefer to see the Gods as parent figures. While this is not exactly true, it is close enough to use as a decent metaphor. A good parent never removes all danger and suffering from her child's life, because to do so would be to remove all chance of growth and success on the part of the child. The Gods give us opportunities to learn, to grow, to help one another, and to become better people (and better humans, as a whole!). If all the "negatives" were taken away, magically, how would we learn about our true natures? We would stagnate, and that certainly doesn't seem the point of humanity. There is a saying that "God never gives you more than you can handle," which appears to be very true.

We need to grow as a race. We can see that growth (and some steps back) if we look back on our history, and what we know of pre-history. Humans have grown and expanded both knowledge and love, and it is my belief that this is the reason that God doesn't stick fingers into every pie that isn't baking quite right.

2. If I were god, and were omnipotent and benevolent, I would react much in the same way that I react when one of the two year old twins falls and hurts herself, or discovers that actions lead to reactions. I would do my best to comfort, but not mask the results of what my "children" had done. I would send messages, warnings at times, or pointers, to show them where they were going wrong, or even where they were about to go wrong. But anything that didn't kill them as a race... I would have to keep myself separate from. As a god, I would have to look at the larger picture of humanity as my creation, as opposed to a single entity or person or child. You can't save them all, because if you did, you'd destroy their free will and their chance to become better.

3. The nature of divinity is that of a loving parent, in my opinion. I see divinity as having created us as a way of exploring It's self. If God were everywhere to begin with, God could not perceive itself, because to perceive, one must be *outside*, and there WAS no outside. So God created human beings, in order to explore God's potential and expanse. Not only does God (imo) have no interest in ruining the exploration God is doing, I believe in the parent analogy. We are more than just rats in a maze - the Gods care for us, intimately. Sometimes, they connect with one person or another, and have a special relationship with that person. Often, it comes as a result of the ability of that person to open up to God in some form or another. It is a give-and-take situation.

4. I think the "right" question to ask, is what WE can do to end suffering. If suffering is around us, and we see it, what are we doing with it? If we don't fix it, how can we have the gall to expect God to do so? That is akin to the toddler who demands a parent to produce a dead grandparent or a far-off aunt, NOW. We must learn to do for ourselves, in order to connect better with God. God meets us half way, but we must do our share of the work.
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