For the past few days I've been enamored with my "What's good about God?" question. It keeps running through my mind, particularly the answer:
In the comments to that post I clarified a point that might have confused some people. I didn't mean that people aren't affected -- both positively and negatively -- by a belief in God.
But this is much different from being influenced by God directly. For that to happen, (1) God would have to be real, and (2) God would have to act upon human beings in some demonstrable fashion.
I responded to a comment with...
My question is: what good is God, if God doesn't make any difference in people's lives? Yes, people have beliefs about God that make them act in different ways.
Some of these ways are positive -- an alcoholic stops drinking after surrendering to God -- while others are negative, a terrorist kills in the name of God.
But in neither case can it be proved that an actual reality called "God" is at work. It is the person's brain/mind at work, creating thoughts that become beliefs. Do you see the difference?
There's no evidence that God makes any difference in people's lives. Believing in God does. In the same way, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy have effects in the world (kids make money from their teeth, for example), but these entities exist only as concepts, as thoughts.
I find this tremendously liberating. For some reason, in all of my sixty years I'd never thought about God in this fashion until the thought "What good is God?" popped up unbidden while I was meditating.
Think about it.
In all of human history, which encompasses so much striving to understand the cosmos and what role a god or gods might play in it, there is exactly zero demonstrable evidence that any person has known God or been touched by Him, Her, or It.
Zero. None. Nada.
Yet reality is real. We experience it each and every moment while we're alive. There just is no sign of God anywhere. As I noted in my previous post, there's no way to tell the difference between a godded person and a non-godded person.
Which means...we're free! We can live life without the anxiety that so many people carry around (I know, because I used to be such a person): "I should be working harder at coming closer to God."
That's impossible. Nobody has ever done it.
At least, there's no proof that anyone, alive or dead, has embraced divinity and been changed by the contact in a fashion that isn't part of normal human experience. So as I said in another comment to my post:
Actually, it's liberating to see things more clearly in this fashion. What it means is that if God exists, a relationship with Him/Her/It is going to be super-duper intimate. No one will ever know about it -- not directly. There never will be any proof of it -- not directly.
This is pretty much what "deep" mystics always have said: God is the ultimate mystery (that's why they're called mystics). When we try to make God into something that can be shown to our friends, like a magic trick, that isn't God.
This is it. Right here and now. All there is. All we need. All we'll ever have. Grab it. Reality isn't ever going to be any closer than it is at this moment. What you want to do, do it now. What you want to know, know it now. What you want to be, be it now. What you want to have, have it now. I'm speaking philosophically, of course. Or "spiritually," if you like (though that word has come to mean less and less to me). LIfe's meaning, the grand purpose of it all, is never going to be revealed in a great gush of Godly grace. Don't expect that you're ever going to become anything other than the ordinary human being you are now. Because there's no solid evidence that this has happened to anyone in all of human history. And none of us really believes that we're so special, we'll be the first God-being to ever exist.
This is it. Right here and now. All there is. All we need. All we'll ever have.
Grab it. Reality isn't ever going to be any closer than it is at this moment.
That's all good. And inevitable. Which is why I call it "good."
Yet God is nowhere in all of this. So stop believing that He/She/It is. There's nothing good, nor anything bad, that God can do for you or to you. Wake up and smell the reality coffee.
God either is nothing, non-existent, or nothing that affects humans in any sort of extraordinary way. In either case, God is nothing.
If you disagree, take up the challenge in my previous post.
Let's imagine a game show: "Who Has Been Made Better by God?"
A dozen people sit in chairs on stage. The contestant -- let's say it's you -- has to figure out which of the individuals, if any, has an intimate relationship with God, and which are godless.
How would you tell? What questions would you ask?
Given the opportunity to conduct background research on these people, what evidence could you gather that would allow you to say, "Person X is better because of God"?
None. If gathering such evidence were possible, it would have been done by now.
Let's modify the New Hampshire motto. Live free. Then die.