What is God?
I am an outspoken Christian. That is as much a part of my identity as my own face and probably more so on any given day. However, in this post, I will be seeking to examine the idea of “God” in a generic and humanistic manner. Elimination of all bias is obviously impossible and even somewhat counter-productive. You have been warned.
There are two ways to go through life: one can take the time to examine each aspect of life in some small way as it presents itself to him, or one can not do so, drifting happily and oblivious to such concepts as truth or sanity. Perhaps the second method is a legitimately fulfilling manner in which to live, but I wouldn’t know. Those doing so wouldn’t either. Implicit in any discussion of worldview is the acknowledgement that reality is real.
Once one examines his life, he can come to three conclusions about it. Either this life is the only thing, the primary thing, or a piece of something greater. The first viewpoint leads in general to anarchist philosophies, the second leads to humanism or narcissism, and the third is the place from which religions are spawned.
From a standpoint of pure logic, there can be no proof that the world is nothing but the one and the only end. There’s no way to conclusively prove that there’s something that comes after or something that looms larger. Maybe this viewpoint is right. Maybe the belief in something else that wells up in all people is nothing more than an evolutionary instinct generated to perpetuate the species, but I don’t think so.
People who believe that this life is the ultimate reality have a higher suicide rate than those who have any type of religion whatsoever. You see, we as a species need to believe there’s a purpose to our existence. It’s just the way our brains are wired. That’s why we identify so heavily with books and other stories. Each story has a beginning, middle, and end, and somewhere in that book something changes. Each character has a purpose as does the setting and every other story element. We search each day for our purpose–our story.
For the narrative of our lives to have any purpose, there must be an ultimate goal, and if there’s an ultimate goal, there must be somebody setting it. Not even everybody that acknowledges a higher purpose searches for it. Some instead get caught up in the distractions of this life. When they are asked questions such as “Do you believe in Heaven?” or “is there a God?” they answer “yes,” but they spend no time seeking. This is the second viewpoint of which I spoke, and it is incomprehensible to me.
If there is a purpose, seeking it out is of ultimate importance, and we usually find purpose packaged in the form of a god. For this most basic human need for purpose to be fulfilled, the god must possess certain qualities. He must have each person’s best interests in mind. He must be loving. For how can we love a purpose that is not set out in love for us? He must be enough above this world to see all ends of it. He must be able to directly interact with the world, for this is the god’s purpose as much as it is our own. He must account for human failings; they are many.
Does any deity satisfy these better than the God of the Bible?