It feels like I’ve started a number of posts on this blog with:
“One of the things I find strange about religion…”
There’s a good reason for this, I find many aspects of the world’s organised religions strange, odd and peculiar. There are certain points of religion I just can’t rationalise. Or, to be more precise, I can’t rationalise why people blindly believe and follow some of the stranger parts of their various religions.
One of these aspects that I find puzzling is the seeming lack of activity by the creator God in the last couple of the thousand years. It seems like he was very active, very tangible and very overt in his activities during the time of the Bible (the Christian God at least), but has since ceased. See the chart to the right for my take on his activity. I’m sure those who have studied the Bible intensively could point out some errors in the chart, but I don’t think anyone could deny the general direction in which it heads, downwards.
So what’s happened? As always, there are multiple possibilities. So let’s take them one-by-one.
God Never Existed
By far the most feasible explanation is that God never existed. After all, we know that the time line above, as informed by the Bible, completely missed out a few billion year’s worth of history. As we understand more of our creation and subsequent evolution, the need for a creator God to explain things diminishes. If God didn’t create us, then what did God do, and why should he be considered a God?
I say this is the most feasible option because it seems highly unlikely that if there were a God, his influence would decrease over time. Especially during a period where his very existence is constantly being called into question, the world is waging holy wars in his name and scientific advances are revealing that feats once credited to God are nothing of the sort. It would seem, logically, that God would want to be more involved now, than ever.
God is Dead
Another option might be to consider that there once was a God, who interacted regularly with his creations in a real and tangible way, but has since died. It would at least explain the recent lull in his activity. This must lead to some important questions for those who choose to follow the religion that holds this dead God as a deity. If there is no God, is there still a heaven and hell? And if so, can you still get into them?
Could it be that God was the spark that triggered creation, then the spark that set our moral boundaries before disappearing? Obviously, all signs point to an emphatic “no”. I mentioned above that it would be logical to assume that God would want to be present and overtly influential over the world at this time, and used this as an argument for suggesting that he never existed. It may be, however, that he is simply incapable of exerting influence any more. This may be because he is dead, or it may be because his powers have subsided, in which case he can no longer truly be considered a God.
While I suggest death may be the cause, it might be that the God simply stopped caring. Retired, if you will. The particular reason you choose to assign to this lack of activity is largely irrelevant, as the end result is the same.
The Unproven, is no Longer Believed
Logically, this is a logical extension of the first point. During the time of the Bible, writing was rare. The ability to write, read and certainly publish work was not as commonplace as it is today. Therefore, if you had a story to tell, and had the ability to publish it on a grand scale, you were more likely to be heard and believed. It’s a simple case of a drought of information. As time moves on, the ability to convey one’s ideas has grown. Now, if anything, we have an untameable flood of information available to use. A flood that’s been steadily increasing over the years. This wealth of information has allowed us to be far more selective of the things we choose to believe. For example, in scientific quarters, claims are challenged and peer reviewed multiple times before being accepted. We can effectively weed out the false, unproven, unsubstantiated claims.
This may not have always been possible in the past. Could the claims, and fantastical stories in the Bible have been treated as facts because they were one of only a few sources available at the time? I have absolutely no doubt that if such a story came about now it would be treated as fiction, the authors dismissed if they claimed it to be true, and rightly so.
Extending this point for the sake of discussion, it might simply be that the supernatural acts described in the Holy Books were simply exaggerated beyond reality for the sake of story telling. For example, the parting of a sea may simply be crossing a low flowing lake. When people hear that someone has crossed said lake, and revisit at a different time of year, it may seem impossible. Only a miracle could have allowed it. There may also be events that are accredited to a God but were simply acts of nature, but the lack of scientific understanding at the time lead to the mis-attribution. Couple that with the possibility of exaggeration, and “Chinese Whispers“, and you’ll have quite the fantastical story on your hands. This completely absolves the authors of any wrong doing and discounts the possibility that they embellished the stories for personal gain.
Are you listening, God?
Given the absence of God as an obvious influence in the world, it seems highly unlikely that he is present at this point in the earth’s history. This is likely because a creator deity has never existed, but one might put forward a case to argue that it’s because God has become increasingly impotent over the years. Either way, he ceased to be what we would commonly describe as a God a long time ago, in the unlikely event that he ever existed in the first place.