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.)