Gods in Our Image
IMAGE: PHOTO OF MONKEY ON A LION
When I first began my circular questioning, asking what Gods within nature would look like, and what kind of cosmos would result in the Gods I believe in from scripture, I had no idea how much it would change my understanding of theology. Perhaps the strangest thing is the beautiful imperfections I now see in the heavens.
I see many possible Gods. While it isn't a case of anything goes -- flying spaghetti will not have the brains to be a God, although a flying spaghetti monster might -- the possibilities may approach the infinite. But after pruning off inevitabilities (determinism that we can't change) and nihilism (the likely end of humanity), I was surprised to find how normal the heavens looked. Certainly they are filled with great power and wonder, but the inhabitants there are still faced with problems very much like what we live with on earth.
What will it be like? Perhaps there will be no involuntary death or disease, but their children -- us and our premortal siblings as well -- will still suffer and die. There will be vast knowledge, but there will endlessly be more to learn and explore, and there will endlessly be the uncertainty that accompanies the unknown. There will be new worlds to create, and the Gods' numerical relevance will depend on doing it about as fast and sustainably as any other Gods out there. There will be constraints from the need for the stuff of creation, whatever that is. Using the stuff efficiently, acquiring more, exploring new space and new methods, avoiding waste (and unneeded pain) through destruction of others or their resources, will all factor into the difficulty of being creative Gods. The need to explore and adapt to remain relevant in an evolving cosmos adds the demand for diversity of thought and ability. The desires of a diverse community of Gods must be managed, and economic theory tells us this can never be done completely fairly (for example) -- so Gods will be hurt, or at least sometimes denied their desires. These are the pressures facing my evolved Gods.
As I realized where my explorations led me, I realized I had created Gods in humanity's image. Gods with great power and knowledge, but with all the problems we face today in our struggles to live relevant, moral lives. I had a moment of pause. Have I simply created another God in my image? Another false idol?
Somehow, these Gods seem profoundly different, to me, from the Greek myths I grew up with. They even seem different from the Gods invoked to back a favorite political or social agenda. Yet they do back my agenda -- or I Theirs. It's always hard to tell. These Gods seem profoundly real to me. Beyond me, but not unreachable. Wondrous, but full of wonder. Coming to peace with the demands of love and pain. Inviting all that is to partake of endless creation, but making hard choices every day to favor creation, even when it necessitates sorrow, separation, or grief. These Gods are so human I fear them and fear for them, since one day I may join them, and I feel so small and broken. Yet this is my image of God. This is my hope and my joy.
Photo: "The Ungrateful Man" Norman Rockwell