The God that matters

To speak of God in a way that makes sense, is actually pretty straightforward. Point of departure is an experience that is common across the board, from orthodox theists to religion-bashing materialists: wonder.

From time to time we’re all struck with this: how come are we here, why is there something rather than nothing? And how come, all being, at some point, returns to being nothing? All of this, our world, is utterly amazing and baffling and overwhelming.

And what is this anyway? The world we experience, the green of the park in front of my building, the yellowish evening light I’m seeing as I write this, is the result of the way we’ve been built, the way our senses work and the way our brain works, triggered by what is actually out there, which is what? -a whirlwind of energies in a spectrum of frequencies of which we are able to perceive only a small part. The solid table that my computer is sitting on isn’t very solid at all; it’s mostly empty space. The molecules in my body exist much longer than I myself am around. They have been part of other human bodies, animal bodies, plants, rocks, IKEA furniture and originally stars which have exploded. Right now these molecules are working together to constitute this body I call ‘me’, and sooner or later they will move on again to other projects, and what I call ‘me’ will have disappeared.

This was just a random little fact-salad. These are things that most of us know, but that blow your mind whenever you take the time to remember them.

The bottom line, for me here at least, is this: there is a mystery underlying all of it. There is a mystery underlying all of existence. And that mystery, ladies and gentlemen, one could call God. It’s the God whose existence doesn’t need to be proven, because the mystery is clearly there. It’s also the only appropriate ‘thing’ to give the name God to, since it underlies not just something, but everything. The mystery is what Paul Tillich called the Ground of Being, which was his description of God. You could also call it the Silence out of which the Big Bang came. It is the God we all try to relate to, be it through religion, music, poetry, meditation, or science.

If you say God, you personify the mystery, which is good mythological/religious practice. If you want to speak about the Mystery that is ultimately indescribable, you need to enter the realm of metaphor, symbol and mythology. Which is good, I repeat. All you need to remember is that there isn’t really a kind of giant Person out there (and he didn’t write a book, though people who tried to relate to him did).

That is a God I could care about, and it makes no sense whatsoever to say that you do or don’t believe in him.

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