Daily Archives: August 18, 2013

What is “God”?

I recently heard an interesting talk by a survivor of the Holocaust. After the talk, the obvious question was raised: do you still believe in God? How has this horrible experience affected your faith?

The speaker side-stepped the question, but did provide the impression that his faith is gone. Although still active in Jewish life and in his synagogue, he no longer believes in God. I have heard others express a similar sentiment. “I believed in God until a such-and-such horrible thing happened to me, and then I could no longer believe.”

I find this attitude to be short-sighted.

We can all agree that horrible things happen to people. Why did you believe in God until the horrible thing happened to you? Were you not aware that horrible things have been happening for the past thousands of years?

If God has been around forever, then clearly God has allowed horrible things to happen to people. You can either stop believing in God, or change your understanding of God. If God only allows good things to happen to people, then clearly there is no God. Maybe God does allow that.

Bad things happen to good people. Assuming there is a God, then God allows bad things to happen to good people. How can this be? I don’t claim to have the answer.

If God allows bad things to happen to good people, and God allows evil in the world, why believe in God? In particular, since the natural world is explained by science far better than it is by religion, why believe in God?

The answer is that science has nothing to say regarding life’s purpose and meaning. Science cannot provide the information to help you form a world-view that makes you feel complete.

You need to feel complete. You need to feel you have worth and value, and that your life has meaning. You cannot escape this need, even if you never think about it.

Even if you don’t believe in God, you need to act as if you believe in something. Is that “something” God-like? In many ways, natural law (the laws of physics) are “God-like”, except that they don’t have a personal character to them. Natural law is not “jealous” or righteous, this is true. Natural law is not “loving”.

God as a concept is handed down to us from the time we are children, and we tend to form a naive view of what God must be. As we grow up, we learn things that contradict our childish views. Perhaps God is less personal than what we thought as children. An impersonal God, a God that resembles natural law, is not a God at all. It is too different from God to suggest that natural law is “God-like”.

I conclude with this declaration: worship natural law.

This declaration is not a scientific statement. Neither is it false.