In Part I of this Series, “Away with God!,” we began to consider our conventional, cultural notion of “God” with a capital ‘G.’ This kind of ‘god’ is a theistic one. It is commonly assumed and understood to be about a being, distinct and apart from our selves. It is a “Supreme Being” who is at once transcendent; but who personally intervenes occasionally in what is otherwise intended by the same creator god to be the natural order of the all things, known and unknown.
What kind of a god is this, I’ve asked? More importantly for me these days, what kind of human conflicts result from such a human construct of our own mind’s imagination? [this assumes one rejects the notion some supreme being planted the idea of It’s existence in our mortal minds.]
The issue that is now front and center over my concern with this kind of thinking is how it has resulted in such exclusive claims in various forms and religious traditions; with adamant fervor, insisting on distinguishing orthodoxy from heresy, true believers from infidels. An example that should be familiar to our circle:
In the Christian faith tradition, there are the mainliners, who are good, God-fearing folk who simply accept the belief system handed down to them.
- There are hardliners who take things so literally they can sometimes literally become “radical extremists.”
- There are fundamentalists who are quite sincere, if not overly zealous; but are generally harmless, unless they become hardliners.
- There are evangelicals of different sorts; a widely diverse group that range from guns-and-Bible social conservatives who wield their own electoral voting block, to bleeding heart social progressives who actually take the ethical teachings of Jesus seriously to heart.
- And finally there are ascetics, a fringe group who, by all outward appearances, live in an alternate universe.
But the one thing they all seem to share in common is the notion of a theistic kind of a god; with a physical being-ness surprisingly not unlike our own! Theists hold to the notion of a “Supreme Being” to which they wistfully accord all the power and perfection from which we fall imperfectly short. Along with such thinking comes the inherent desire to curry favor with the “One” who can bestow such blessings. Continue reading here.