1/23/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S. ~
Several years ago, Newsweek magazine published the results of a survey asking different denomination members to define "God". Yes - that god. The definitions of "God" fell into four or five different categories. (I made a point with my wife one day that her definition of God was not the same as her brother’s, sister-in-law’s, my niece, etc.) Thus, theology, as a method to define "God" and “his” mind, wishes, and duties to Him turns out to be a means to control via . . . words. And it works.
A noted Father of the Catholic Church, Thomas Aquinas, wrote of the "Five proofs for the Existence of God." Aquinas, an erudite philosopher quoted occasionally by theologians, is considered by them to have written a brilliant exposition with his "proofs", but, as one thinker noted, his "proofs" only make sense if you accept his premise to begin with, and he offers no proof that his god exists. What Aquinas offers is what every theologian feeds on and lives off: words.
There is no way to counter invisible non-entities, "spiritual” claims, when words have adoration. Even a three year-old kid’s words can be taken as acceptable "sacred truth,” when words mean so very much.
The proofs for a divinity’s existence and the truthfulness of claims handed down by the divinity, depend on one's geographical standing on Earth. As astronauts circle the Globe, they cross over the many interpretations and contradictions of just how those "proofs" are defined, some involving several gods or aspects of the same god. Even in space, the premise is a premise, with no proof. No proof, for instance, even in space, that anything in the universe was created. What a view! Meanwhile, down on Earth, earthlings are harming and killing each other, over beliefs in an invisible "creator" and what they intransigently accept as "his wishes."
Meanwhile, here on Earth, many maintain that this "great invisible spirit", is a "father." This label came from Jesus. That’s one. “
The Talmudic god is a trickster, doing whatever turns him on, good or bad. (Christians won't accept this, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of it, they believe this too, but they make excuses.) Definitely male, because he enjoys destroying. The Moslem god, Allah, appears to be just another fate-playing ogre in need of regularly scheduled praise, appeasement, and calloused foreheads, and a misogynist. Pick a god, any god . . .
"How do you live without God?" Answer: Everyone lives without God, because there isn't any.When it comes to words, I am reminded of one of my favorite word-masters, John le Carré, who put these words into the mouth of a master spy: “The world is run on lies." Indeed. Heads of state lie to other heads of state, corporations and politicians lie to their constituents, spouses lie to each other (even though little lies, out of love),governments lie to one another, and clergy lie to their congregations and followers.
Pastors know that the Nativity story is just that - a story. The pope, celebrating Christmas mass, knows this too. They lie and lie and continue to lie, and there are no checks and balances, no catching them in the act.
Let us not downplay the significance of words and their power to not just communicate, but inspire and motivate for better or worse, those who hear them. But with believers, words have a value that raises them to a sacredness which they will not challenge. They carry the connotations of possessing absolute truths. Consider the word "spirit" alone, a word which originally meant "breath," and as used in scriptures, meant that the spirit was breathed into beings by a spiritual force, and departed on death, since the person stopped breathing. Ditto “soul." Sin, redemption, original sin, grace, transubstantiation, damnation, etc., etc. . . . Put them under the microscope of logic and what is known of reality. They don’t really tell us anything, hold no water, and yet their merely being spoken has magical connotations for believers, who hang on these very words, along with the words of prayers and other incantations. Thus, "theology“ is the study of and explanation of . . . words. The entire enterprise and edifice of religions is dedicated to the buying and selling of invisible vapors and feel-good fantasies. While human beings are struggling and even starving to death from lack of help, thousands of word-processors of "the word" are taking money to talk trash.
The word "ambiguous" keeps coming to mind: ”Open to more than one interpretation; doubtful or uncertain; undefined." The vernacular of beliefs is ambiguity, resistant in all ways to explanation, clarity, respect for ascertaining truth. Beliefs create a world of their own. Lies to evade truth and support ambiguity are told so often and elaborately that the liars come to actually believe their own lies. Does this habit lead to personal convictions? I think so, from experiences in dealing with them. And don't all of us have experience of where they're coming from ourselves?
Do we not have not merely the right, but duty, to hold the "proofs" of religions to scientific scrutiny, to place them under the microscope of truth-claims for the sake of verification, as we do for every other claim? "Tradition" is a sorry excuse to perpetuate ignorance. Already, Religious presidential candidates, using the habit of their belief-ambiguity, are tripping themselves up when pressed to explain their "unquestionable" beliefs. (Again, le Carré:"A man who cannot speak clearly, cannot think clearly.”
You wouldn't believe how much crap I've heard about this god, his angels, what heaven is like, how he felt when he died on the cross, how much he loves me, how many died for the faith (by the way, how many died against the faith, because faith refused to be questioned?) Words, all words. No proof, evidence. All allegations. They can weave complex cobwebs, but still they're cobwebs. And if they want to claim that everything they assert is a ”mystery," let them, and as soon as they solve these “mysteries,” then they can make claims. Until then, and after thousands of years of preaching this non-sense, they can put their money where their mouths are. It’s time they fleshed out their “word.”
Personally, I recommend "none of the above," and as each religion rejects the "proofs" of another's beliefs, I reject them all, since none of them has any. But . . . , they have megatons of words.
There is an answer when I am asked, "How do you live without God?" Answer: Everyone lives without God, because there isn't any. But, everyone has imagination, and nobody lives without imagination. The proof can be found in words.