What God Is and What God Is Not
Who or what is God? Few questions have captivated the collective philosophical imagination to the extent that this one has. Can we even know for sure? Only one trained in dogmatism would insist that we could. But while we may not be able to know all there is to know about God, there is much that can be ascertained by studying this created universe. Moreover, there is a truckload of things men have believed up until now that we can be certain God is not. And that truckload we can proceed to unload.
Thousands of years of pagan ritualistic belief in human circles have produced a veritable feast of rather preposterous misconceptions about God. Our fears have rendered any image of the divine as ridiculously distorted, while our neediness and pain have turned God into a sort of genie in a bottle—a bottle we rub feverishly with our prayers in order to convince God to grant us our wishes and act on our behalf. But none of this is reflective of who God really is. Rather it is an archaic religious mindset—one mired in ignorance and superstition.
Rejecting such misconceptions about God is not only a way whereby we can emerge from the Dark Ages and into greater light; it is a wonderful power in our lives—a power that will bring healing and transformational regeneration in its wake. Furthermore, learning what we can about God from the created universe will have a similar effect and will not be too difficult for us at this stage of our spiritual evolution. All we need is a modicum of openness to hearing a new and different slant on things.
The root of all paganism is the belief that God is a personal being. This belief about God is so deeply rooted in the collective human psyche that even today it tends to be dominant in our religious communities. It is not that we know God is a personal God. Rather it is that we sorely desire to view God this way, in order to meet some deep emotional psychological need we feel. In other words, up until now human beings have needed to believe in the idea of God having a personal nature, because we saw this as a way to assuage our unfathomable sense of inner pain and emptiness. Thus the act of prayer related to this aberrant belief is, in truth, a desperate cry for help. That is a valid need and a valid response to what ails us. Unfortunately, it is not based on the truth. Therefore it is powerless.
Ascribing to God personal attributes has no basis in rational scientific thought. Therefore there can be no logical reason for it, other than an emotional need based on our sense of inner pain. And since this personal god is born of our emotional need, logic tells us that it is not extant or real. Rather it is merely a fabrication of the human mind. Then, like all mental creations, we see that this god is both limited in what it can do and finite in its nature. This is not because the true God is these things. Rather it is because the human mind is limited and finite. It cannot readily conceive of the concepts of infinity or limitlessness but only knows what it perceives with the human senses or with scientific logical deduction. And what does the human mind know best at this stage of our development? Not the universe around us, not yet at least. True, our science has developed to where we know a great deal about our universe. But what we have known best up until now is ourselves and what makes us tick. And even in this our knowledge is sorely limited. But we know some basics about ourselves, such as what motivates us and what our instincts tell us. We also know about good and evil and how these opposing forces play on us. We know about our strengths and weaknesses and how to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. We know about our most overpowering and volatile emotions—emotions such as anger, resentment, jealousy, and fear. These attributes of our humanity have been common knowledge since the beginning of time. So it is not surprising that we then ascribed them to our mentally created personal god in an attempt to flesh out and give this god some substance and personality. In other words, it is not surprising that we created this god in our own likeness and image, given the fact that that is what we know best. We gave it human attributes that are very familiar to us and then let it loose to do its god-thing. This is called anthropomorphism, and it ought to be clear to us by now that such a god is strictly fantastical.
Who said God is like a man? Who said that God has motives such as a man might have? Who said God sometimes loses it emotionally and becomes unhinged, like a man? Who said God sometimes becomes so angry that He can’t see straight, or so jealous that His love can turn to hatred in the blink of an eye, or so vengeful that He would smite entire populations of humanity and wipe them off the face of the earth? Who said that God would only love us when we toe the line and do His bidding? These are not truths about God; they are truths about man. We are the ones who do such things. But anthropomorphism has projected these attributes onto God, as if He were one of us, in the same way that a movie projector projects images onto a blank white screen.
So our personal god is, in truth, our own creation. But then like the Frankenstein monster, this god we created became so powerful and hostile in our sight that we tended to behave in many erratic, almost comical ways when relating to him. We learned to fear this god more than we fear anything else. We undertook to appease him and try to steer clear of his wrath. We attempted to manipulate him and beg for his mercy. We felt terrified by his unpredictable capricious nature. This god we created became like a loose cannon in our sight, ready to go off at any time, in any place, and for no apparent reason. He also became the foremost proponent of conditional love, often threatening to withhold his love from us, thereby making us feel highly insecure. In short, we turned this god into one bad enemy. But remember, this god we have created is only a projection on a screen, only a reflection of ourselves. Therefore it was us that we were actually reacting against. It was us that we feared and felt terrified about. It was us that were the true manipulators and control freaks. And it was us that was our worst enemy. The real God had nothing to do with any of this. No wonder we have grown to mistrust and hate God. It is not God that we feel this way about; it is us.
Eventually, all this mistrust and fear gave rise to the initiative to separate ourselves from God, as if it were God’s will that we keep our distance. We came to believe that there existed an uncrossable chasm of separation between us. God was in His heaven, and we were on the earth. God was holy and we were profane, etc., etc., etc. And so we learned to live without any interaction with Him.
Have these just been harmless misconceptions on our part? Far from it. Just look at the mess human civilization is in. We are on the verge of destroying ourselves. Is this God’s fault? Of course not. How then has this happened to us? For one thing, in our delusional anthropomorphic view of God we have utterly shirked the responsibility for righting our own ship. We have projected both blame and responsibility onto God. We have believed that since God created all things He must have a personal stake in keeping them going. But the true God has no personal stake in our fortunes whatsoever. If we have lived in such a way so as to bring destruction upon ourselves, there is no one to blame but ourselves.
Can you see how irrational and unscientific all of this is, how it has come out of a delusional, deeply disturbed human mindset; how our superstition and ignorance have conspired against us? Can you see how important this matter of knowing God aright is? It has the power to either destroy us or save us. Can you see the extent of the spiritual darkness we have been living in? There is no more time for such indulgences. To continue on our present course will be the end of us.
It should be obvious to us by now that we need help. But since our god is not real, where would such help come from? And what would it entail? Would the help we solicit allow us to continue on in our delusions? There is plenty of that kind of help to be found. Would it look the other way, while we continue to skirt our responsibilities as stewards of this planet? No, of course not. Rather the help we need would bring light to shine into our dark fearful mindset. It would expose our ignorance, not pander to it. It would speak the truth about our delusory concepts of God. It would shatter our delusions inexorably, especially those pertaining to our personal anthropomorphic god.
Jesus of Nazareth was just such a helper. His compassion towards us in our suffering and ignorance knew no bounds. But perhaps his greatest, most enduring legacy was to tell us the uncompromising truth about our predicament. During his short time among us he left no stone unturned. He completely debunked the personal god of our imaginations and brought to light the One True God—the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent Spirit that created our universe and set its workings in motion—workings that have neither tarnished nor faded throughout all time.
Jesus taught that God is a God of law and immutability—that God is not subject to whim or caprice or any other personal foible, but rather is as solid as a rock. And Jesus pointed us to the natural environment, where God’s handiwork is ubiquitously displayed. This was how we could come to know the One True God. For, we are not separate from nature. We too are created beings, inhabiting God’s created universe. God’s law, interwoven throughout creation, set in motion in the beginning of all things, and perfectly sustained until the end of the age, is also the law of our being. Lastly, Jesus taught that we could know God aright by getting to know ourselves aright. It’s all there inside of us—the kingdom of heaven, the legal structure of that kingdom, its perfect effortless function ability, the consciousness of created universal oneness, etc. And that is what the One True God is. It is a benevolent life-giving Spirit—one whose presence fills every nook and cranny of our universe; one whose knowledge is too high for us to fully grasp with our human minds; one whose power is greater than the power of man, even if we were to unite as one mind and pool all our strength, ingenuity, and prowess.
God’s creative intelligence is so far above ours that we really have no frame of reference to comprehend it. All that was needed to establish our universe was one act of creation. That set everything in motion. Then the universal laws inherent in this act of creation took over and have been governing the interplay of every created life form ever since, including man. Thus God is found everywhere, not just in the earth’s formations, but also in every manifestation of earthly life, every activity of expansionary evolution, and every display of intelligence.
We human beings are capable of knowing God as this creative, life-sustaining force. But this knowing is not limited to scientific empirical discovery. Rather the real key to knowing God is found in our own spiritual makeup. This is because, as the Bible tells us, we were created in God’s image and likeness—an image and likeness that is not personal and anthropomorphic, but is instead one of spiritual vibrancy. Thus it is only through the developing of our own spiritual discernment that we can know God aright. This too is what Jesus taught.
The tragic part about all this is that, not only have we grossly misrepresented the One True God through our anthropomorphic pandering; we have also rendered God off-limits to us by our own desire for independence and by failing to bring human life into conformity with God’s created universal order. This rendering has in no way harmed God, but it has greatly harmed us. For, to be out of alignment with God’s created law is tantamount to swimming against the current of a very powerful river. Poignantly, every woe inherent in human life has its source in this stance of willful rebellion. All our suffering—death, disease, poverty, war, etc.—is caused by our own wayward insistence on maintaining an independent distance and separation between God and ourselves. This has been our folly throughout this age. God is too powerful to oppose and too benevolent to miss out on. God’s law is absolutely just and immovable. But to oppose this law brings only discord, defeat, and destruction.
Jesus demonstrated this truth through his healing ministry. Hordes of broken, defeated human beings were brought into his presence. How had they gotten that way? By throwing in their individual lot with the collective societal stance of opposing God. Only the strongest among men can oppose God and not suffer brokenness. And even for these, their folly eventually catches up with them at the grave. But Jesus’ demonstration was not one of opposition to God; it was one of perfect harmonious alignment. He himself was not subject to suffering, and his consciousness of God union was so strong that he was able to heal others.
Healing is not a human gift or power. Rather it is the very essence of God’s being. God is only good, only benevolent, only life affirming. God is the perfection of being. Healing therefore comes only when we align ourselves with this great God. That is all. There is nothing magical or mysterious about it. There is no sin, sickness, or deformity in God. There is no insanity or derangement. And as Jesus showed, there is no death. These things have become an integral part of the human experience because we have been trying to live without God. We have been swimming against the current of created life. But the moment we stop, turn around, and begin flowing with the current instead of opposing it, in that moment we are healed.
Do we have to be religious in order to accomplish this turn around? Of course not. Jesus was not the least bit religious. Moreover, most of our religions do not preach the One True God. Rather they preach the anthropomorphic personal god of the human imagination. So we are more likely to get waylaid and bogged down by these religions instead of being set on the right course. What we can do, however, is to learn the truth from Jesus or any other genuine enlightened spiritual master. We can recognize how important and imperative it is to come to know God aright. We can consciously disavow all our former wrong concepts about God. And lastly, we can, little by little, bring ourselves into harmonious alignment with this great God of our universe and be healed.