WHERE ARE WE HEADED?
The longer I live the more I realize how tragic and futile it is that we fight so much among ourselves. Nothing is ever made better this way; only a productive argument leads anywhere, but that’s rare and another subject and not what this paper is about.
It is said that the population of Earth in Jesus’s day, was about 16 million people. The population of the Earth today is close to 7 billion – more than 400 times as many people gobbling up the world around them and fighting over all manner of differences most of which are small in substance and of little consequence (except as we believe them to be otherwise), real and imagined, trivial yet essential to sustain the basic premise of certain beliefs. Whether Jesus was the Son of God or not matters very little to the efficacy of the Earth as a place to live; but it means everything to someone who fashions himself a Christian. It is of no real consequence to the Earth if one man believes in Jesus and another does not. The question is, of course, completely irrelevant to all non-human species that inhabit the Earth. The trouble for humans lies in the stress field between opposing poles of thought. Remove the human being from the paradigm and most differences no longer seem real or never existed in the first place except as a consequence of imagination. Most of the issues that perplex us have been classified as real or imagined only by human thought. Consequently the distinction is often irrelevant.
If there really were other intelligent beings sharing the Universe with us, what a marvelous and thrilling sight our beautiful planet would provide them once it came into view. Amidst all the nebulous, gaseous, hostile and fiery wonders passing by the portals of their spaceship, this blue, radiant, pristine sapphire of the Universe would shine forth in beauty and in iridescent wondrousness. And then, what if by some magic beyond what we terrestrials understand, our visitors were to discern that of the several million differentiated species crawling, creeping flying, swimming and abounding thereon -- and merely scratching the outer skin of this miraculous globe -- that just one species of all the millions stands out in supreme intellect, imagination and aspiration – except that this dominant species – and only this one -- subdivides itself into absurd differentiations by means of the most subtle variations in color, hue, stature, displacement and other differences largely imagined or indiscernible (whereby it calls one “white” and another “black” when side by side, no distinguishable difference can be seen between the two and neither bear any relation to the customary meaning associated with either word), and most puzzling of all, intrusions into the sanctity of that superior intellect whereby coercion will identify and disclose a thought found eccentric enough and deviant from the norm to be declared heresy and thus justify destruction of the one holding it (an Afghan woman who renounces the burqa, for example). Thus superior intellect has the propensity within itself to corrupt and destroy that by which it can be at once marvelous and at the same time lethal. Whereas religious piety should stand at the core of man’s morality, more deaths throughout history can be attributed to religious extremism than for any other reason.
The concept of God varies widely among those of you who will read this, from a long and thorough intellectual conclusion of atheism by one friend to fundamental and absolute acceptance of the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures contained in the Christian Bible by another. Both are beloved friends. I am somewhere in between.
Contradictions, permutations and aberrations about God are so pervasive throughout the world, ad nauseum, that there is little recourse for the individual except to seek enlightenment within his or her own heart. Life requires a commitment to yourself. Don’t blame God for everything, and don’t ask God for everything except the God that dwells within.
I believe survival begat necessity; necessity begat trial; trial begat discovery; discovery begat habit; habit begat practice; practice begat custom; custom begat tradition begat religion; religion begat God. But the answer does not end there. We are some sort of creature on an evolutionary path just past the point of discovering the causes of thunder and lightning and headed hell-bent to the ends of the Universe, if indeed it has an end. I instinctively believe that it does not and that it will perpetually unfold to much greater things than we can imagine now.
God is a search for understanding what we don’t understand, a search for comfort in a world of pain, a search for love in a world of rejection, a search for succor in a world of danger, a search for reassurance in a world of doubt, a search for light in a world of darkness, a plea for mercy in an unforgiving world. The search for God expresses also a different kind of need, one that cries out in gratitude for the abundant, superfluous and indescribable beauty of the world that rises above crassness, folly, exploitation and evil. God is the need to believe that someone or something far greater than anything we know or can understand is master of the universe.
And insofar as a belief in God causes us to heed our better selves and do better things, perhaps we will have found all the God we need.