Ihave no doubt that any religious person reading this title will be appalled by it. How could God, the source of everything that exists, possibly be irrelevant? Of course, I am assuming that by “God” one means a supernatural, all-knowing, and all-powerful being with a nature, by definition, completely and utterly beyond the comprehension of mortal man. It is precisely because God is unknowable that He is irrelevant. One cannot love, or in any way value, that which one cannot know.
Of course, the religionist, at least the religionist operating from the monotheistic traditions of the West, would not agree. God may be ultimately unknowable but He has revealed himself in his Word and that we can indeed know.
All righty then. What does this Word tell us about God that is especially relevant? What can we learn of value from the Good Book that we couldn’t possibly figure out on our own with our, shall I say, unaided reason?
Morality? That is a matter of common sense imbued by scientific knowledge. How does one decide what is right and wrong? I say by looking at the nature of the human animal and the requirements of that animal’s survival and well-being over the course of generations. You figure it out by observation and experience, by seeing what works and what doesn’t. That’s how all problems are addressed and solved, moral or otherwise.
The Bible says differently. According to the Bible, it is God who determines right and wrong and what God says is written in the Bible. The only problem with this (beyond the fact that one hasn’t proven that what is in the Bible is the word of God) is that much of what is in the Bible we almost universally regard as wrong.
Virtually no one, if not no one, today believes it is moral to stone to death one’s disobedient children the way the ancient Israelites were instructed to do by God, according to the Bible. The religionist would say that the context of the times is different; what was appropriate then is no longer appropriate now. Precisely. Or rather we have evolved in our thinking such that we no longer believe that children are property or that disobedience to authority is a mortal sin. We have changed, and therefore our notion of what God would demand of us has changed as well. This implies, of course, that we created God in the first place, but that’s another matter.
If morality can come from reason, then obviously God is irrelevant in that area of existence. But God is irrelevant in far more fundamental ways.
There is a Biblical saying that goes something to the effect that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I have always despised this saying. My initial response to reading those words was so damn what. Why is it bad, wrong, important, relevant, or even interesting that man falls short of the glory of God? We ain’t God!
Now if I were of the same nature as this God—all-powerful, all-knowing, and immortal—perhaps then I could be expected to attain the same stature as God. Not only doesn’t God have my limitations, but God doesn’t have my wants and needs, or my fears and worries.
Imagine a human being getting right into the face of a cat and telling the cat that he or she falls short of the glory of being human? This makes about as much sense as decrying human nature because it’s doesn’t match some notion of Godliness. Actually, it makes more sense. The cat, like me, can feel pain. The cat, like me, faces the horror of dying. Does God? No. Well, it’s easy to be “glorious” when it costs one nothing!
I suppose the Christian will argue that God made Himself Man and was still perfect. Well, I’d like to say that I’d believe it if I saw it, but quite frankly, I don’t think I’d believe it if I saw it. It’s quite frankly unimaginable. How could God not know He was Man? And if He did know He was Man, then as Man how could He not have known He was God? Huh and double huh. And if He knew He was God when he was Man and vice versa, then He did not face the limitations of humanity, although perhaps He did suffer from a very bad case of multiple personality disorder.
I can get my mind wrapped around the dual nature of God about as well as a person blind from birth can get his mind wrapped around the idea of color.
My point is that even my statement that I don’t believe in God is irrelevant because even if I believed in God I still couldn’t make sense of Him. If there is a God, this God’s nature is entirely different than ours. One can’t love something one can’t understand, and ultimately one can’t believe in something one doesn’t understand other than in the very narrow sense of believing. Satan supposedly believes there is a God and that Christ is God’s Son come to earth to redeem man from his clutches. But Satan doesn’t “believe in” God, that is, put his faith in God. It is impossible to put your faith in something you can’t wrap your mind around.
All any entity can be is what it is. This is the law of identity. As a human being, I have five senses and a brain that interprets the raw data from those senses and constructs an order out of that data. I experience, I feel, I think. This is my life, and the only life that I can have. God is not relevant because God cannot be experienced or known, not on any level whatsoever.
Christians often say that either Jesus was God or a megalomaniac (or a liar). If Jesus actually existed and said what he was purported to say, I would tend to agree, but take it a step further. If he were God, he’s still a megalomaniac. I can’t for the life of me imagine a God who is self-centered in the sense that He demands that others obey Him, worship Him, and follow Him like sheep follow a shepherd. Why? Why is belief necessary, faith necessary, redemption necessary? And why is love, as in the commandment that one should love Him with all one’s heart, all one’s soul, and all one’s mind, necessary or even possible since love cannot be compelled?
Perhaps there is a utilitarian function for religion I’m missing. Never mind if you really believe or not, if you just shut your eyes and try to believe, then God will work His magic. You need to believe and worship not so much to please God but to please yourself. (C.S. Lewis knew how ludicrous it was to insist that God needs to be worshipped and suggested that God knows that we need to worship Him). Okay, but I haven’t discovered this need, and even if I rummaged through my mind and found it, what purpose would it serve? It still wouldn’t make me believe, and belief is what saves one’s soul according to Christianity, not a need to believe.
So what we are left with after all is said and done, is an idea about God subject to a trillion different interpretations based the infinite variety of human experiences in an ever-evolving set of cultures. The actual entity or nature or being that is God, that by its very nature is something wholly different than us, cannot be known, or experienced, or loved, or valued. This gulf between man and God, if such exists, has to be far greater, infinitely greater, than the gulf between a person and a cat or even a person and a common earthworm or even a person and a plant. All four of us—person, cat, earthworm, and plant—face the fundamental problem of survival. God does not. He is more different from us than we are from a bacterium.
And this is why He is irrelevant.
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