Today let me talk about my views on God. I want to approach this subject with broad strokes ( this post in two parts will be around 3000 words) as in my view irrational amount of ink and attention is devoted to it everywhere. More often than not, it is, debated as a life and death issue and arguments are mostly theistic and emotional rather than based on any kind of real understanding.
Also instead of taking a philosophical approach of proofing with the cosmological , ontological, teleological and moral arguments and rebutting using the presence of evil or scientific arguments I want to take a pycho-social approach to the idea of God as I believe that to be much more relevant to our everyday living. Also you will notice as you read along that I will not argue for or against God but about God.Since this is an issue where everyone has indoctrinated beliefs,I would suggest to keep an open mind to consider non -traditional beliefs as a possibility.Ok with these caveats and meta speak, lets get started.
God as we conceptually understand it is a multilayered framework. In its omniscient form, God is an end to end purveyor of life, its conduct and its conditions.Functionally, it creates a universe and life in it, sustains them, guides their course and finally judges their efficacy.
Humans however are traditionally not well endowed to handle abstractions. It is a cognitive limitation of a human mind that they find specific narratives far more engaging and edifying than broad generalities. So from this abstract conception of God, if it had to find traction with human species, the pending task was to flesh it out with details.
This is where religions stepped in.Basing their narratives on actual people or metaphorical shapes and avatars, religions have given a cultural context and personalized voice/s to the concept of God. They have translated god from an unconscious human archetype to a living force in affairs of mankind. By detailing god and its edicts the religions have unlocked the power of sacred that lies dormant in every human heart.
However this is where confusion also creeps in. Since the last mile conception of god traced from this common Form which is a human universal, is highly dependent on its specific era and culture, we have a world full of gods which are often in violent conflict with each other , The God of Abrahamic religions does not sit comfortably in the same Pantheon with Gods of tribal and pagan religions. There are so many gods not because there are so many religions but because there are so many cultures that have worked to indigenize the common God meme.
So it might be useful to historically map the form of specific god to its cultural context to estimate if our current formulation of gods is in line with 21st century culture that we live in. This is also because for a god to be a relevant and an effective force, it has to have an imagination lock on the culture that exalts it.
Now in tribal cultures where society comprised of small groups of hunter-gatherers, Gods were polytheisticaly conceived. Instead of transcendental gods responsible for human salvation, most forces of nature which had a potential to cause harm were personified as gods. Sun, Moon, Lightening, Animals were all fair game. So this was a phase where the gods had to be ritualistically appeased for continuity of health and life. This Tribal Conception of God (TCG) continued well into Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Chinese and Vedic Indian societies with more gods being introduced around harvest, war, poetry, love, wisdom, as the civilizations marched on. Since these gods were not backed by an overarching divine edict hence elaborate mythologies were created around their habits, abodes, forms and interactions.In terms of its time-frame this TGC phase lasted for more than 10000 years since its origin.
As societies became better organized with more people settling together in city-state formats, the culture shifted. Division of labor, royal administrations, expanding trade, surplus agricultural produce, intensifying competitions mandated Gods which gave specific edicts around moral conduct and meaning of human life. The ritualism of pagan traditions was subsumed as a base but the new layer of morality and transcendence of God got added to it in this Medieval Conception of God ( MCG).
All the major Abhramic religions which came in this stage (except Judaism which is lot older) conceive of God in this way. The omnipotence and omniscience of one God underlies his moral and spiritual authority and had to be ritualistic prayed to. His words and commands were put in holy books (instead of myths) through a son or a messenger which then had to be defended against non-believers. In terms of time, this format of god formulation took off around 300 AD when Constantine the Great became the first ruler of Roman Empire to convert to Christianity.This formulation has since prevailed to this day with some ebbs and flow along the way.
This brings us to present day cultural scenario and our current God formulation that underlies it. With advent of industrialization, culture shifted again and nation states came into being first through consolidation and then through breaking up of European Empires. Industries happened, cities and slums started, transport and warfare techniques evolved , women and minorities got empowered. Then came the information revolution and its consequent globalization. Socially this has been the most disruptive forces as cultural ideas acquired wings and an IP address. People began to transact both hard and soft currencies globally leading to a global integration. This local barrier breakdown has obviously created new pressures on domestic God Principles.
Another force which was gathering recruits through this phase was science. With science explaining the universe as a relative entity and life as having an evolutionary genesis, the word of Medieval God as laid down has come to be squarely challenged. Noah found new competition in Darwin as Moses has been challenged to a duel by Einstein. Even with these cultural changes creeping in, for most of the industrial past and even in current information age Medieval God Conception (MCG) has maintained its charisma for masses. Majority of people worldwide still subscribe to this versioning of God meme.
However a sizeable majority of global citizens, rationalists and atheists, cheerlead by Richard Dawkins and his merry band, have now started to challenge this form of God. In fact they have started to question the very rationale of the God Principle and its utility.
This then brings me to my conception of God.