Finding God.

Sometimes I imagine if I found out in a way I could not deny that God was real.
Not only real, but has all the attributes normally ascribed to him by Christianity.

An all powerful being who chose to use his power to create billions of other individuals for the sole purpose of submitting them to an excruciating and arbitrary test of his own design whose punishment for failure is eternal suffering and the reward for passing is the mildly better having to spend an eternity worshiping at his feet because he apparently enjoys extraordinary amounts attention. (in these regards I find the Mormon God more likable than the standard Christian God)

The reason this 'reward' is better is because one apparently feels really good the entire time, even though an eternity worshiping another being sounds unbearable tedious.

As if this fellow didn't seem unpleasant enough, he is apparently homophobic, sometimes a racist and may or may not be a misogynist.

So I wonder, what would I do if I had certain knowledge that such a being existed?

I would not want to express any positive feelings towards an individual I felt was so devoid of decency and morality let alone worship him, yet I also wouldn't want to spend an eternity suffering. Would it be worth my while to serve a bad master just to spend an eternity feeling high? If the alternative is endless pain, then it probably would be.

But could I fake it? Would God let me into heaven if he knew I was just going through the motions and didn't really think he was a great guy? I don't know. Probably not.

What if God's intentions were actually the opposite of what people think. What if he laid down unusual rules to see who would have the gumption to think for themselves and value reason, independent though and compassion over obedience and reward. Even if that were the case, it would still seem cruel. Why bother testing people in such a weird way?

Why punish or reward beings who you made? Whatever failings they may have would be your fault, since it was you who made them lacking in sufficient knowledge, endurance or ability to successfully complete the test, so why hold them responsible?

Were the Lds conception of the pre-mortal life real, I think I would have taken Lucifer's side. I would much rather give up my free will, (which I don't know if I believe in anyway) then risk the possibility that me, or anyone I know would spend an eternity suffering.


l i z said...

that's interesting what you said about free will (whether or not you believe in it). a friend and i were recently discussing human rights and individuality and he doesn't seem to prescribe to these notions. maybe that's totally different from what you mean about free will; i'd be curious to know your feelings on it.

Vincent said...

These questions are so hypothetical...

It is one thing to have the imaginative power to ask them. I admire you for that. It is quite something else to consider the questions real enough to attempt answers.

I wonder if in the course of your English literature education you were made to read Milton's Paradise Lost? It's a long poem in the epic style, designed to "justify the ways of God to man"; but perceptive critics say that he unconsciously takes Lucifer's side, as revealed by the splendour of the poetry. The Lord God by comparison is a spiteful killjoy. I don't know if the critics say that too, but I just dipped into my copy (which I confess to not having read) and quickly came to that conclusion.

Chris Almond said...

Liz: In terms of free will. If I am understanding correctly it sounds like I am referring to something a bit different than your friend.
My skepticism of freewill is based on my understanding of cause and effect and human biology. It is probably too much to explain within a comment, but this wikipedia page addresses some of the issues http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism

Chris Almond said...

Based on this and other comments I have noticed that you seem to have a...discomfort(?) with hypothetical situations. Whenever I have brought up hypothetical situations which could not actually exist, but serve as thought experiments or as a catalyst into other ideas you have expressed strong reservations about imagining something which could not be real.
I confess you are the first person I have encountered to express such reservations and I'm not sure if I understand it.
For example, with this comment, I am not sure I understand why 'it is quite something else to consider the questions real enough to attempt answers.' or why you feel I have not done that?

As for your question about Paradise Lost, while I am vaguely familiar with the work, I haven't read a single page of it. I'm not well versed in classic literature. However, based on your description of it, it sounds interesting.

Vincent said...

No, it's not a discomfort with such hypothetical questions, but a wholesale rejection of the academic approach as a path to theological truth.

The thing is that you are claiming to be able to imagine God with the attributes of a human being. To your credit, you push this to the reductio ad absurdum of saying that this "fellow" is "apparently homophobic, sometimes a racist and may or may not be a misogynist". That is, you make it perfectly plain that the being you are referring to cannot possibly exist. You might be able to argue, as you apparently do, that some Christians worship a God with such attributes, but this is surmise. Clearly some Christians have those attributes. Other Christians may see in the Old Testament an outdated culture which they might label as having those attributes. It would be anachronistic to label the OT in that way because the concepts of homophobia, racism and misogyny didn't exist then. They are concepts of recent invention by a particular human culture.

"what would I do if I had certain knowledge that such a being existed?"

How could anyone have certain knowledge of any God with any attributes? Don't they take it on faith?

To me there is only one use for the word God: to share experience with those who use the word as a label for something otherwise inexpressible. The moment one uses the word God to justify one's prejudice, no matter what kind of prejudice, I disconnect. Eg: "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son ..." To me that is the Christian evangelistic prejudice.

But there are ways of talking about God that bring about deep sharing.

Fish Nat!on said...

I thought about leaving a comment, but changed my mind.