“The only option if one is to be true to what we know to be true is to abandon the word “God” altogether.” This from an email responding to my essay on the God of Science and the Science of God.
It seems to me that this idea is too narrow. We have, in fact, three choices: We can maintain the ancient and medieval gods of our various tribes and competing religions and allow them to take us to war over and over again. Or, we can, as the emailer suggests, abandon all notions of God and find solace in a universal scientific materialism. Or, we can, as I propose, reinvent God and proselytize with a vengeance.
I don’t think people can do without God. The idea has been around almost as long as homo sapiens sapiens, but it has not always meant the same thing. What I propose is a new vision of God, one that transcends tribe, gender, ethnicity, race, etc. One that leads us beyond the politics of piety and its toxic mix of nationalism and religion. One that does away with reward and punishment, heaven and hell, and salvation and damnation.
This new image of God will draw heavily from philosophers such as Spinoza, theologians such as Tillich, and philosophers such as Whitehead. It will be unabashedly panentheistic, seeing God as that which manifests and transcends the world open to us through our senses and machines. Such a God does indeed incarnate as man, as many claim is true of Jesus, and also as woman, roses, oceans, bees, and bedbugs. The universe, indeed the multiverse, is God’s body. And it is forever changing for God is change as well as the changeless. God is paradox, and nothing less that the tools of paradox—quantum physics and Zen koans, to name but two—can help us realize God.
The prophets of this God are people like Amma, the hugging saint of India, Ramana Maharshi, Alan Watts, Sri Aurobindo, Toni Packer, and J. Krishnamurti. Erich Fromm (To Have or to Be), Aldous Huxley (The Island), and Ken Wilbur (Integral Spirituality) will be among our pundits. Einstein, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King will be our guiding lights.
My point is simple, people need God. They need a word that reveals the greater reality in which they live. I am not hung up on the word, and one is free to use any number of synonyms, but to abandon the idea of God in hopes of creating a better world is a waste of time. What we need is a fresh and relevant God-talk. What we have is idol worship among the conventional theists, and idol bashing among the conventional atheists. Both of these are silly.
No, the fearsome god of Abraham, the god who destroys peoples and planets and who demands blood sacrifice either of sons or his, will not die overnight. But if we can powerfully and plainly articulate a vision of a truer god (God itself being beyond knowing) the old god will eventually go the way of Zeus. I only hope this happens before his followers literally love bomb us to death.