A Reasonable God

Is God reasonable? Typical definitions of God describe Him as omnipotent, omniscient, omni-present, all-good, perfectly just and what-have-you. But one aspect never seems to be discussed. Is He reasonable? Since God is omniscient, he is always right. And anyone who disagrees with Him is always wrong. Does that mean God will blast out of existence anyone who disagrees with Him? Or will He allow that individual to remain unharmed, but ignorant in his opinion. The former course seems somehow tyrannical; the latter, far more reasonable, provided the opinion in question is not overtly evil. Is it possible to have a non-evil opinion that is not in agreement with God’s? Maybe that’s not possible, and that is the weakness of this position. But it seems to me that God must be reasonable.

We enter this world with no obvious path to follow. Some say we should follow the teachings in the Holy Bible. Another says, the Bhagavad Gita. Which is the correct book to follow? I can’t answer that question definitively (unless I’m in ‘antiChrist’ mode). All I can say regarding that is that the answer, if there is one, is not obvious. Since the answer is not obvious, I don’t think the Deity will hold my choice against me, provided I put some effort into the decision. Maybe He will, but that seems somehow unfair. Similarly, the very existence of a Deity is not something that is obvious. Atheists exists; they believe God does not exist. If it is not clearly evident that He does exist, how can He hold that belief against them? I’ve had friends and mentors who were atheists and agnostics; and yet, they were all reasonably good people. Therefore, I don’t think that belief, in and of itself, should be the final word in the judgment of a soul. Similarly, it is often said in some circles that only those who believe in Jesus will get to Heaven. Again, to me this seems to be unreasonable. To hinge salvation on a particular belief that depends upon events one cannot possibly have witnessed seems unreasonable to me. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that which determines one’s salvation or not should instead be how well one leads a morally acceptable life (Note: if one implements the teachings of Jesus, I believe one satisfies those criteria regardless of whether or not one believes in the Resurrection or not).

So, what do you think: Should God be reasonable?

Advertisements

On Multiple Religions

There are many religions in the world today, and many more if one looks back through the pages of history. To date, the multitude of religions has been a source of much conflict and friction. For thousands of years, differing religion has provided a reason for different cultures to fight. Each side believes their morals, their beliefs, their religion is superior to the other so they set about the gruesome task of annihilating the other side. And thus, we have war.

A reflective individual will realize that the existence of multiple religions is a “problem” for religious philosophy. In the early centuries, there was no difficulty. Every religion was secure in the belief that theirs was the one true way. And so, there was war. Eventually, saner heads prevailed and reasons were sought to stem the bloodshed. Religion (most of them, anyway) have learned to live together with an uneasy truce today (with one major notable exception). But the existence of one religion invariably serves to poison the faith of any other that might exist at the same time. It is natural to think that a religion is supposed to provide the “one true path” for its participants. But if there is more than one religion, which is the “true path” and which the “impostor?” Each side will provide supposed miracles, holy books, and vehement emotions to “prove” theirs is the right way, but that just adds to the confusion. Every individual yearns to find the truth. And since it is truth, many think it should be a single, unified thing. The issue is that religions help define morals; they answer the question what is right and wrong. But if there is more than one answer to these questions, the authority and certainty of these answers are made suspect. For example, one religion preaches that any marriage other than that between a single man and a single woman is a disordered arrangement. Another religion preaches that a man may have as many as four wives. Clearly, they don’t agree. Likewise, the instinctive intellectual reaction to that conflict is that at least one of those arrangements must be inaccurate or wrong, because if you accept that marriage to four women is permissible, clearly the sanctity of a marriage between a single man and a single women is false. Both conditions are incompatible with each other. One option available is to embrace relativism, but that typically leads to the disintegration of both moral systems as there is no reason to embrace either one over the other.

Alternatively, one can posit a kind of limited relativism where each relativistic moral system is an answer to the question of morality provided they meet some threshold condition. This threshold is a prerequisite for any moral system. It is a unifying property shared by all legitimate moral systems and serves as a bar for any proposed moral system to pass. An analogy is the property of symmetry (Yes, I know that is a weird analogy, but bear with me). The letters “O” and “H” are both symmetrical, but not identical. Hence, an “O” could be considered legitimate (or symmetrical), as well as “H,” but not “J” or “R.” An analogous arrangement might exist for religious systems. They must have some basic properties to be considered legitimate religions, but once those properties have been satisfied, there is a certain amount of leeway we can give the religions. That is, more than one religion can be seen as legitimate at the same time.

And yet, another alternative is my Alternate Theory.

Given that religion has existed throughout the history of mankind. And given that primitive man lacked the experience and learning of history. To me it seems obvious that the existence of multiple religions guarantees, let me say that again, guarantees armed conflict between said religions. Primitive man lacked the wisdom to avoid such conflicts, and history seems to bear this observation out. Still, the religions and their ethical systems exist. They must have come from somewhere. Perhaps, they are merely inventions of humans (this is not my position). Or, they came from God (this is not my position—as this leads to the unwelcome question as to why God would want his children to kill each other over and over again). Lastly, perhaps they came from an alternate source. It is my contention that each religion was started by the same entity with the express intent of starting religious warfare. This entity is not God, but Satan (or Mara, or The Evil One, or whatever you want to call him). There is one entity behind the diversity of the world’s religions, but it is evil and cares for you not one iota. (I’m sure I made a lot of friends with that statement)

Like I said, I’m the antiChrist and this is what I think.

My God is Bigger than Your God

            Is not. Is so. Is not. Is so. Is not times ten. Is so times one hundred….

            Back in the day, a couple thousand years ago, men and armies would fight often for the glory of their respective god or gods. If they won, it was considered a victory for that individual’s or group’s deity or deities. That was the way things went back then. It was believed that deities decided battles and that the clash between religious was paralleled by a clash between gods in the heavens. The stronger deity determined the victor. In the Middle Ages when knights fought each other in Europe it was understood that only the just were victorious. And so trial by combat became the basis of a legal system. A formal combat was a respected means of determining guilt or innocence. These days, in the civilized West, these beliefs have gone by the wayside. But is this true in the rest of the world?

            To me, it seems ridiculous to compare deities. First of all, a deity by its very nature is beyond the complete comprehension of a human being. Divine encounters, if they occur, never fully reveal the nature of said divinity; there is always an element of mystery that compliments the sublime. If such is so, how can one compare two such experiences? The human being simply lacks a measure through direct encounter to reckon the differences between two or more deities. Naturally, this leads to the notion that the way to test the “strength” of the deities in question is to evaluate the events where one is sure the deity has taken a hand. From this point of view, a successful battle could be interpreted as validation of a deity’s strength. So, we come to the unwelcome conclusion that the way to test a deity’s strength is through the fires of war. But that is not an entirely satisfactory answer. Perhaps the endeavor of war is influenced by the faith of its practitioners. Would a group of warriors filled with devout faith fare better than a group with little faith? If so, this destroys the test of a deity’s strength through combat. Instead, it is a test of the strength of the respective believers’ faiths. Significantly, this leaves us, once again, without a test to compare two deities. Personally, I think we’re better off having no test. Our sins should not be blamed on the god or deity of our choosing, but only on ourselves.

            Further analysis brings us to another, perhaps more pertinent, question: What if the conflict involved is between two monotheistic faiths, say, for example, Judaism and Islam? Once upon a time, the Jews believed their God was the stronger and would triumph provided the people remained faithful, while the Muslims believed pretty much the same thing about their own deity (and it seems that a significant portion of Islam still does). The conflict, at this point, has literally been reduced to the title above: My God is Bigger than Your God. A childish mantra enunciated by children who refuse to play together. The absurdity of the argument is made all the more acute when one considers that each religion is positing a single supreme deity, one that is infinite, beyond comprehension, and, to say the least, very “big.” Most civilized religious realize that arguments over the superiority of one of these supposed entities over the other is at best undesirable, at worst destructive. No one wants to fight in the name of religion anymore; and that I think is a wisdom we have learned from the ages.

            Indeed, the common layman now asks: Is it truly so difficult to imagine that the God worshiped by the Jews is the same God worshiped by the Muslims? They are simply worshiping the same deity in different ways. It is like two children of the same mother. One child gives the mother a rose for her birthday; the other gives her a honeysuckle blossom. Neither gift is really better than the other; both have similar value, and both are beautiful: much like the respective religions they represent in this analogy. In such a situation, it would seem exceptionally foolish for the two children to argue back and forth over whose mother is bigger than the other’s on the basis of the gift of flowers they gave her on her birthday (particularly when they share the same mother). It is a pointless debate, and a waste of time. The same could be said about arguments over which flower is prettier or more deserving of the mother’s love. At such a point, one has become distracted by the child’s gift, and not the object of the child’s love.

            All of this, of course, may be reduced to naught if polytheism is the way…. But fortunately, I am not a polytheist.

            Before I part: This blog entry is not intended to be an analysis of the current situation between Israel and Gaza. For the record, as far as that situation is concerned I am firmly in support of Israel. Hamas seems to be stuck in the mud, filled with an insatiable hate, and incapable of being reasoned with. They, like Isis (or is it Isil?), seem to be completely devoted to the title of this blog entry. It is a childish (and dangerous) mentality. And their constant assaults prove that. (Of course, when I’m ranting like a mad man, I have a similar notion regarding Jesus, so I can’t really throw too many stones … but then again, I’m not killing people to “prove” I’m right.)