Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of pagan statues, Zeus and other gods

When the pagans figured out that a statue was not God they faced a choice. Either there was no God or God was not a statue. Wisely, most have concluded that God is not a statue and human religion has moved on.

Many atheists point to the apparent roots of today’s religions and struggle to reconcile what appears to be the pagan origins of some it. It is hardly a surprise that as religion and theology evolved peoples’ thinking was influenced by their socio-cultural environment. In the machine vs soul discussion Lee outlines a path of evolution for the concept of the soul. While some may propose other paths, Lee asks how I as a Christian can accept a concept apparently born in paganism. I reply that I have no difficulty.

The "God is not a statue" thinking has prevailed and the concept of a spiritual life with a god or gods has given rise to the major religions of the world and hence a theist majority in the population. This does not suggest blind acceptance. Rather, it means that a multitude of the wise and scholarly of many religious persuasions have pondered the question and decided, on the weight of evidence, that they should continue to seek to better understand God

The multiplicity of religions shows that their thinking has not yet converged on a single theology. However there are signs that convergence is taking place among liberal theologians across the religious spectrum – interestingly around the simple core of Christ’s not unique core message.

Perhaps some atheists have not managed to reject a particular religion/denomination while retaining a belief in God – pity really; after all we devised religions as vehicle for our relationship with God, not the other way round.

Those atheists (like Lee?) who came to atheism by rejecting the fundamentalist evangelical Christian (or other) model of God were right to question doctrine. They conclude, and to a large extent I agree, that the fundamentalist God is not a really good working model of God – it does not stand up to scrutiny.

Atheists then make a choice different from mine. They decide that as the model of God that they have is flawed, there is no God. I decide that just because the model has its faults does not mean there is no God. I reject the model and keep looking for a better one - one that stands up to scrutiny.

Why do I do that? Firstly it is the valid deduction to make. Secondly, the overwhelming weight of anecdotal and circumstantial evidence requires only a small leap of faith to acknowledge there is a God. To dismiss all the evidence – albeit anecdotal and circumstantial – and conclude there is no God requires a leap of faith way too big for me!

Hamba kahle - peace