Friday, July 13, 2012

God, is that You?

This was my response (I decided not to post) on a TED forum asking whether you believed in God or not.  It was sad to see how many people decided to just pick a side and criticize the other, but I decided to give it a shot.  My (lengthy) answer is as follows.

To answer the initial question, yes, I do believe in a God. However, I would not go as far as to say I subscribe to a projected image of God that our culture often paints.  We tend to perceive God “in our image” as opposed to “His image,” and we do not stop to think what His or our image really even means. The problem is we're stuck attempting to describe God with what limited perceptions we have with which to work. I believe life and expression can be owed to a non-corporeal and infinite idea or consciousness. Very metaphysical and new-agey, I know, but I believe it circumvents the many trappings of the more mythological deity we perceive God to be in traditional religious terms. Still, I believe that God’s existence does have implication on our lives, and we should respond accordingly (assuming there are assumed responses). To delve into what those responses might be would digress from the purpose of this response.
I don’t believe a belief in God rests on the acceptance of a religious doctrine or system.  There is much discussion about how science and religion clash, but, as others have mentioned, this is a matter of perspective and interpretation of data.  There are plenty of scientists (i.e. astrophysicists, molecular biologists, etc.) that have a strong belief in a creator, often coming directly through their observations within their fields.  What it really comes down to is how one defines God.  If we think in a traditional sense of person, we are likely to come up shorthanded.  Others identify God not through a character, but through idea or concept (i.e. love, spirit, force, nature, consciousness, creation/expression).  Some would say our mere existence is proof of “design” or God because we express life and consciousness.  Science is still exploring the origins of life, and evolution provides some amount of data to project conclusions, but science has also struggled with the idea that either something was created from nothing, or that something has always been there. Science doesn’t like either of these answers, even if it can accept the idea of a perpetual cosmic system.  At any rate, science tends to concern itself with experience, facts, and data while faith or religion concerns itself with purpose on an expressive and moral scale. 
Joseph Campbell spent a great deal of time studying mythology and religion of different cultures.  A major criticism of religious people today about Campbell is that he threaded so many religious patterns between mythologies (especially Christianity).  In his mind, this did not debunk any particular view, but instead reinforced a global acknowledgement of creative and expressive purpose.  Much like Stephen Hawking, Campbell seemed to view any sort of God that may exist as much more fluid and conceptual than the concrete perception we often perceive in our culture today.  Campbell also felt that humanity was a fundamental ingredient to God’s existence.
From the standpoint of logic, I view the question through an expressive lens.  Why have we even conjured a God?  Because we don’t have answers to forces and natural phenomenon?  Perhaps, but isn’t that what science is for?  Sure, but science hasn’t been able to answer all the questions like WHY are we here (and no particular reason is not an acceptable answer).  So we attribute it to a higher power, a creator, and artist, who simply wishes to have a relationship with us or use us as physical manifestations of his own expression and existence.  Or something like that.  Pascal claimed we are better off believing in God (Pascal’s Wager), and although others have already argued a belief in God does not a good person make, it is often more incentive to act with purpose or moral guidelines than without it.
Whatever the case, I think we’re far better off discussing what (or who) God is/might be than whether he/she/it is there or not.  This would likely bear more fruit than a futile discussion a yes or no question.  Let’s see who’s willing to rub these two cents together for a while :o)

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