Why Humans NEED God

March 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” – Voltaire

What Voltaire meant by this quote has been the subject of debate, probably since he uttered it in the 1700’s. The general feeling is he was simply saying, “There is a God” and I agree, but Voltaire’s witty, tongue-in-cheek ending of the quote can stand some examination, especially in light of today’s more liberal interpretation of who/what God is.

Here’s how I look at it:

From the time that the first real humans (by real humans I mean the first humanoid creatures that realized their existence and ultimate mortality) sat huddled around a fire on a sandy shore somewhere and puzzled over the overwhelming vastness of the night sky and dimly wondered what it was all about, humanity has recognized that there was a higher power. With minds that were essentially clean slates, humans soaked up knowledge through observation and experience. It wasn’t long before they realized that the questions, “Where do we come from and where do we go?”, “Why are we here?”, as well as “Who/what is the higher power?” were questions that could never be answered definitively. Their answers changed over time as humanity’s intellect grew. The answers became shaped to the needs of society at the time.

Let’s just consider one question: “Who/what is the higher power?”

As mentioned above, mankind has always recognised there was a higher power, something beyond ourselves and this world. What happened is (and here is the answer to the last part of Voltaire’s quote), man (humanity) did invent God! They needed an understandable symbol to use while trying to make some sense out of the imponderable. They used what they knew best; themselves. Thus, God became a (usually) male, superhuman, omniscient, omnipotent version of themselves. It’s interesting that mankind recognises its subordination to this Supreme Being, yet demonstrate its conceit by placing ourselves at the pinnacle of creation (a debatable point in my opinion).

As humanity’s knowledge, understanding and societal needs grew, God changed. When humanity was most concerned with survival, God was the power that ensured a successful hunt. As society formed into non-nomadic groups, God became the power to ensure successful crops and protection from physical attack by other groups. As societal groups staked out their territory and lived in relative harmony, they flourished and stratified. Now God was needed to preserve the modus operandi of society, which actually meant preserving the power and wealth of the upper level who had attained it by exploiting the great numbers of the lower level. God was now an aristocrat, the King of Kings. I suppose this is where humanity started to subvert its contemplation of God and began to use God the King as a tool to acquire and retain more power and wealth … but that is a story for another day.

God, through the Christian era, has certainly seen many people who simply want to understand what the Power Beyond means to us humans, yet it can’t be denied that during that same era, there have been those who have used an understanding of God to wrest power from others and control them for material gain. That this subverted version became orthodox for so long amazes me. Luckily, the Christian society of the late 1900’s began to re-examine this God. The movement has been growing and the recognition that God is overdue for a change is accepted. However, the change is scary. In some ways we are returning to the sandy shore and constructing this new God from scratch. It could mean we eliminate God as that all powerful, anthropomorphic being and replace it with …… us?! Again?! Humanity is finding that the power we hailed in a higher being is actually shot throughout creation and is contained in everything … including us. Will be be conceited enough to make God in our image again? Very exciting stuff! This scares people because the familiar Old Man in the sky is gone. He’s gone even for those who claim they never believed in that crap (yet are quick to pray when a life altering moment appears). Part of the danger in this is; there will no longer be a need for a thing like “church” where people would gather to be indoctrinated in a particular understanding of the imponderable higher power. What we know as church could very likely disappear altogether.

Some church leaders, like Gretta Vosper, are fighting hard against this trend. Vosper recognises that what now goes by the name of church may disappear but people still require a community where they can gather to share their Spiritual journey. She is current with how the higher power is changing and is anxious to draw people together in a time when everyone’s understanding is different. There are many others like Gretta; struggling to maintain community during this time of transition. They recognise that humans need a God. We need a symbolic, or model god on which to hang our thoughts of the imponderable. As the model fills out, we are then better able to understand ourselves and our place in creation. As we now live in a global village, the need of humanity today is to have a global God and that’s what’s happening. And that new God will not simply be an assemblage of the best traits of all those anthropomorphic deities around today. The new Global God will be an entirely new creation … finally.

That God exists, it’s just necessary that we invent him … ooops, I mean … It!

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Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

Easter Rant 2009

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