Just say "No!" to oversimplification!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Is God Knowable?

I. Do we want to know?

Do we want to know God? Agnostics seem most comfortable being sure they can't know. Atheists are simply sure that there's nothing/no-one there to know. "God", from those viewpoints, looks very much like a person's Imaginary Friend. And that isn't really what anybody wants.

People want God to be real and 'not a monster'. But so long as people don't know God, their Imaginary Friends can be both unreal and monstrous. When we say we know God, we're claiming that our Friend is real... and that claim can easily disturb people. "Will he take his kid up the hill for sacrifice? Will 'God' tell him to slaughter the neighbors?" There could be political complications.

We don't want God to be a monster, yet when we consider the news-world it's all about events that only a monster or a human being could find entertaining. This isn't just an artifact of the media's focus on bizarre and frightening situations; these events are usually real, no matter how distorted. There are bizarre and frightening situations the media won't even consider for public display.

So, one critical element of our traditional idea of God is downright scary: That God created the world and determines what happens here. First off, we can't easily trust an entity we don't know to do that! Furthermore, look at the sort of show God puts on; consider that we aren't just 'audience' but could readily find ourselves unhappily onstage.

We have this abstraction called "Good" -- and also we've got this world that doesn't fit into that. But is it a good show? "Yeah!" That answer tells us something a little strange about our own nature, doesn't it? I remember in high school, going to see a movie of 'Romeo and Juliet'. I knew this was all very cultural, yet here I was on my way to watch a young couple fall in love -- and then have awful things happen to them. Wasn't there something downright sicko about that? If the Romans could have done it in the arena with real people, certainly! Yet isn't it wonderful, to be a young fool in love?

The point is, we wanted a 'Realistic' world; and we needed the sort of world which would produce us, the people we are as we are. Then we kvetch that such a world isn't 'Good'. Of course we do! It's as pointless to blame us for doing that as it is to blame God for making a world that suits us.

So God is no more monstrous than we are, even better, by my experience! But is God 'real'? -- Are we permitted 'to believe in' God? [See next post!]

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