Warning: I talk about God. A lot. I try not to come off as a member of teh Catholic Com Box Elite (not that there is anything wrong with that, but… still.), but I definitely have my More Than Opinions. I just try to put a different spin on them than average.
I know this looks dangerously close to politics, but again, I openly and witheringly object to the notion that everything is political. IF that is the case, than waging total war in somebody’s living room is fine and dandy. Nope. This is one of those things I refuse to accept as the new normal. There is such a thing as civilized, and that ain’t it.
Onward. We are talking about the nature of God. First off, why is it important?
I mean, for most people, God is an abstract concept– far away and not particularly relevant to everyday life. (If Pew Polls are to be trusted, at least.) What you think about the world and what makes it up colors the way you see everything. And regardless of what we say, we have our own mythologies, intentional or not, that support what we do and what we think.
Today, this sounds offensive because we have designated the term mythology for all those things that aren’t true– those things we prop ourselves up over our ancestors for being so stupid to believe. Either that or we pride ourselves on not believing in anything — at all, which is itself a belief in something, too.
Mythology is a set of stories that are symbolically meaningful for the deeper truths of the world you live in, for the culture you live in. Just like a story problem is an intelligible symbol of an equation, so a story about Adam and Eve is not just some judgmental story about the sexes, but a parable about the nature of All Mankind.
I will grant the story was used (quite a lot) in an unbalanced way, but if you read the actual print you will discover that Adam comes off no better than Eve. He’s the one who plays the blame game right in front of the Almighty himself. Nice, huh? And that’s a part of the point. We are all selfish, and we’d rather be god then let God be God. Our own natural desires often work against our best interest.
The crowning irony is, and what it has to do with the link in question, is this. The pagans themselves, at least the intellectual elite, who produced the plays and did the obediences to their gods in glorious temples did not necessarily believe in them, nor did they have to. Often they were arguing against any belief in deity… by embarrassing them with their obeisances. Instead of being seen as a reason for upholding good order, they were used as an excuse for formerly scandalous activities.
The plebes, who did not matter– we still have only a few tantalizing hints of what they believed. No one bothered to write it down, save a wry disparaging comment here or there. Others were specifically forbidden to write it down or discuss it– in the sense of the mystery cults– the most famous being Eleusinian Mysteries. We can’t even say for certain if it had much to do with what Homer said, it’s just our best guess. What we have written was the intellectual elite mostly pleasing themselves. When people tried earnestly to get close to the truth– they were either executed, or their truths were burned.
It was those wacky Christians and Jews who weren’t able to put those empty grand gestures aside, and insist that stuff means things. They declared that calling a failed emperor god was an affront to godhood– even to God. They believed this so strongly that they voted with their lives, and in unprecedented numbers.
I think the real problem with defining your own god is that it becomes, over time, hard to believe in him or her or it or whatever, in the face of abrasive reality. This is because you know, deep down inside, you are the one who plaited that crown, whiffed that incense, and bent your knee to an empty statue. That construction withers under scrutiny. You suspect there may be something out there, but ultimately, your life’s work is based on pleasant feelings and hopeful guesses. Or the opposite of that, in hope of capturing the reality you’ve witnessed. Art is awesome, but it is not deity.
Aquinas discovered the nature of God as an extension of what some ancient pagan was saying long before his Church was established. It is reason that is damn difficult to refute, once you understand the arguments. Trouble is, we like pointing and waving our hands and saying “semantics!” when the fine distinctions really matter.
Life gets really simple when you take for granted that Mathematics works, that Science works, that Reason is consistent, and that communication between not just neighbors in the same culture but throughout the world and time– works. How can these things be possible if there are no Metaphysics? How can we live in an intelligible world if all is random, and borne of chaos? Is it all just a big coincidence that we invented based on random inputs? Really?
And, if there are metaphysics, the God hypothesis becomes an awful lot harder to refute. Stop mucking about with biblical interpretations that have never been current. This conversation is about the nature of reality. If God is Existence Itself, where on earth are you going to look for footprints– or a beard? What are you going to measure?
The only reason we trust science is not because “it just works”. It’s because the foundations of science were tested by reason borne of reality based philosophy. And I’m sorry, if you don’t believe in reality being real, you don’t have a reality based philosophy.