When you are absolutely confounded by the meanness of people, that’s a moment when you are close to God, or so I was told by someone who has tried to tease out a relevance for Christian mythology in our post-God age.
It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a God — it must be remembered that there never was a God. Even when people believed God was real, it was never more than a useful aspect of their culture. We’re the recipients of that culture, and it’s up to us what to do with it. To me, it make sense to look at God as culture, rather than as a scientific claim about the nature of the universe, since culture is what God has always been. Is there anything about this culture that I want for my life?
To me, the Christian notion of God — or at least, the notion that was handed down to me — is about being our best selves, living our best lives. We look at the state of our world, our society, and we think it ought to be better than it is. Why does such a thought enter our heads? Why do we, conscious animals, yearn (at least sometimes) to transcend our animalistic nature?
I don’t know. We just do. We have evolved to do so. And God is a cultural concept that represents this yearning.
Our world doesn’t make sense. God doesn’t make sense. I need a senseless answer to a senseless situation.
Hamlet-like, I refuse to accept the conclusion to which my thoughts have led me, because I know there are many other cultural concepts I could choose from. I could simply choose atheism. In fact, I do choose it, since I’m treating God as a cultural concept and not a supernatural being I need to fear.
But I’d like a little God with my atheism, please.
I want to keep God, for my thoughts and for my spirit. Someone derided this as a form of ancestor-worship, since I’m taking a concept my ancestors revered and hanging on to it as a sort of homage to them and their values.
To which I say: cultures and values are built around concepts and nurtured by traditions.
I get that God is out of date. Frankly, yes, it’s a little embarrassing. It’s hard to justify. But my heart won’t let go.
Now, I know that deep down I’m writing this for a few reasons, one of which is the hope that you’ll want God too. But actually, really, why should I care? It’s your thoughts, your spirit, your values, your motivations — not mine. But if you did want God, and you thought about him sort of the way I do, then at least we could talk about it. That would be fun, and maybe even mutually inspiring.
What good would it do, other than be fun? Isn’t fun enough?
But I’d add that this concept, God, represents values that I hold. It does indeed represent the story of Jesus, and it does for me make sense of the meanness of people.
And so I’ll go on talking. Just ask me.