I confess that I am one of those strange people who thinks about God a lot. I am also inclined to believe that when we think about God, we think too small. This is because we start from a place of traditional God definitions. We start with the God of our great grandfathers, determine what it is about that God that we don’t believe, and propose a new version of God based largely on the version we have rejected. Admittedly, “starting from scratch” can be a daunting proposition, but what if that is the only way to arrive at our destination.
I am told by people who work in software engineering that when a problem is found in a program a patch is written. Lay people might think of the patch as a band aid. Rather than rewriting the program from scratch, which would be prohibitively expensive, the band aid is applied. When another problem develops, another patch is written, but the fist one is left in place. This process is repeated as often as necessary, but eventually these patches start interacting with each other in unanticipated ways. We could say the same of our God vision.
We have a God vision that is based in a worldview that is at least 2000 years old. More likely that vision is between 3000 and 5000 years old. That vision is based not only in a pre-scientific worldview, But also in a worldview that had no understanding of much of anything by today’s standards. There was no understanding of reproduction, evolution, sociology, psychology, gravity, meteorology, our solar system, or geography. The concerns of that era in history are so far removed from our concerns today that they cannot speak to us. The God of that era cannot possibly address our concerns. Despite that, we tend to start from that God and try to move forward into a viable understanding for today. I assert that that is a fatally flawed procedure.
I am not an advocate of throwing the baby out with the bath water. The outdated views of God can inform contemporary understandings of the Divine, but they cannot determine them. Most responsible theological thinkers would agree that God is not a human being writ large. The notion of God as a kind of superhuman deity in the sky is anachronistic. Despite that, many people struggle to move beyond that outdated vision.
I would like to propose that God is a completely different sort of being. Some have said that God is being itself but I am not sure that is a clear notion for most of us. If God is being itself, then God is distant and removed from our experience. Some have used the analogy of creation being fish and God being the water in which we swim. While that idea has some merit, the ocean doesn’t really care what swims in it. For most of us a God this removed has very little practical function and doesn’t correspond to our experience.
Over the next several months, I will be developing and proposing a vision of God that I believe works for the 21st century and beyond. It is not a vision for the specialist or for the Academy, but rather it is a practical vision that eliminates many of the problems traditional views of God encounter. I hope you will accompany me on that journey right here in the blog.