Thursday, May 31, 2007

In Defence of God

There are many, including myself, who are not impressed with every verse in the 'Bible' that some claim to be 'THE Word of God'. Surely there is divine inspiration in many verses in any great book, but what is named the 'Bible' is not a single work by a single author. It is a hodge-podge of essays, tales, proverbs and poems written by many. How it became 'THE Word of God' was a matter of human decision, not divine. As I have said more than once, it really merits ruthless editing at this point in time.

'Fundamentalism' has been the worst enemy of every spiritual philosophy. Tales that are intended as parables or allegories are redefined as literal history. Jesus, who is at the very foundation of Christianity as a religion, made it clear that he used parables only in order to teach lessons to people. He did not want his words to be taken literally.

If one considers the entire process of 'divine inspiration', one realises that however much the Divine may inspire a human, the expression of that inspiration ALWAYS will be human, distilled through the narrow vessel of human ability.

Divinity cannot be encompassed within the lens of human perception. Divine inspiration, but human expression means that there cannot be a precise equation here.

Furthermore, between the prophet and the resulting 'holy book' is a wealth of impure and imprecise translation. The Hebrews borrowed old myths and then incorporated their own imperialist aims into a series of books that claimed there was some Divine impetus that placed them above and beyond the constraints of morality and justice.

How can any one believe that a Divine Entity would favour one tribe or group of tribes over all other human beings? God cannot be Jewish. He cannot be restricted or limited by the claims of any tribe or ethnic group. To condemn him for the misrepresentations or false pretensions of any group or any dogma that is attributed to him therefore would be wrong.

In fact, it is only those who believe that human beings really were created as 'lords of the earth' who condemn God for not favouring them! Although the Bible declares that man was created in HIS image, there are two ways to argue against the interpretation that this statement means that we are demi-gods. First of all, 'in His image' could be interpreted to mean 'according to the image He was inspired to create'. Second of all, every word in the Bible was written by human beings, even if some of those words were divinely inspired. And we all know that human beings have a vested interest in claiming themselves to be lords of all other creatures on this planet!

I therefore disregard those spurious declarations of human superiority. After all, one need only look at the natural process of existence to realise that we are as much compost as any other creature on this planet. We share this planet with other creatures, both animate and inanimate. Certainly our judgement and moral standards do not provide any evidence of superiority. Perhaps if we were a bit more humble, we would not be as destructive as we are.

Who is Jehovah, Yahweh or Allah? All are simply names that attempt to claim some relationship with the Divine Being. In Islam, there are 99 'names of Allah', and these are not believed to encompass his entire being, but rather are simply attributes. 'The Merciful', 'The Compassionate', 'The All-Knowing'...

God is not our servant. We are his, and our well-being is only one consideration. Life is a matter shared by countless creatures and all must interact to the ultimate benefit of something that we may not even recognise. Who are we that God should answer to us?

To me, the verses of the Bible or the Qur'an that truly speak of God are those like the following:

From Surah Al Baqarah: 'Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, in the alternation of the Night and Day, in the sailing of the ships through the Ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewish to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth: here indeed are Signs for those who are wise.'

The verses that ring true with respect to our own abilities and our relationship with God are these from the book of Corinthians:

'For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

'For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

'And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.'

1 comment:

Fleming said...

Excellent. It is refreshing to read such sensible statements about words which have undeservedly inspired so much lunacy.