For God’s Sake

Ask a room full of people about their opinion on God or their relationship with him and chances are that the conversation would outlast your supply of alcohol for the evening. What I have gathered from inconclusive conversations and infinite observations of people’s behavior with respect to God is possibly worthy of a book not a mere post. But it is a good place to begin to structure the question for what it is worth. After all, none of us would go through life without ever thinking about this at least once to know in our heads as to 

What is my relationship with God?

Some like Richard Dawkins have attempted to answer at least some aspects of this very subjective relationship, slotting them on a clear scale to determine our predilection from a theist to atheist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_of_theistic_probability)

So if you had no doubt about the existence of God you would be a pure theist, without any question that a whole lot of us struggle with for most of our conscious lives (or 1 on Dawkin’s scale) . At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you were sure that there was no such thing as a God you would be an atheist ( or 7 on the Dawkin’s scale). And the rest of us still trying/not trying to examine the role and relevance of God in the world, would fall somewhere in between on that scale, depending on our degree of involvement or disengagement on the subject. 

Taking a cue from Dawkin, in this vast debate, I decided to take a stab at understanding the subject through  three more questions of HOW, WHEN and WHY?

The HOW?

Now, each person in that party, irrespective of the amount of wine flowing in their blood, would tell you their version of HOW they know whether God exists or not. It is a great possibility that the phrase ‘ Spiritual not Religious’ would be done to death during these conversations. But yes, everyone who falls in between 1 and 7 on that scale, wonders about the possibility of a  force that they could believe in. Whether they are trying to find the answer through rigorous rituals passed on to them through centuries, or seeking them through newer, more subtle tools of inquiry. Through visits to temples, shrines, mosques, churches or synagogues or through the polishing of their own souls in deep meditation. In prayers or in chants. Whatever our method, we are all seeking the same thing- a force/ or being that we have never seen/heard/touched but has far more power than has been invested in us or in other words- GOD. 

The When?

When does someone start examining this relationship? I know I never started thinking about God in a conscious way till a couple of years ago. Not once through the words of  the prayer ‘Our Father in Heaven’ I recited from rote daily in the school assembly, or the hymns that were sung in the school choir; nor once in any of the fasts, or stories from Hindu mythology that my mom would impose on us. 

For me, none of it ever had to do with him. But, he was remembered in the complaints when grades were not up to my expectations in school and later as it turned out, life would follow a similar course. At one point, God was also who you requested, demanded or bribed  for fulfilling worldly desires.  He was also remembered in moment of helplessness, in the darkest of hours, when nothing tangible could bring peace or comfort. Of course, I learned with time that God was all of that and none of that. Yet, he never answered me in the way described in Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, and I really doubt that he does. To quote an extreme case scenario from America’s Drama series ‘Homeland’ where an atheist  Nicholas Brody turns to Allah and becomes a devout Muslim in the face of extreme adversity as a prisoner of war in Iraq. Locked in a hole for eight years with little human contact, he turns to something whose existence he rigorously denied in regular life. 

I have posed this question to many a atheists, as to where do they look for strength in their weakest moments, when they have negated the possibility of a larger force or the comfort of any faith? 

The Why?

All of the observations above point to one one obvious why. Why do we care about our relationship with him?

Is the concept of God the black hole where every question, that cannot be answered within the realm of our understanding, be dumped and labelled ‘God’s Will’? How else would we explain the unbearable cruelties, the ugliness, the unfairness that exist in our little lives and the world at large. Or is his existence mandatory to  keep hope floating in some of us who aren’t strong enough to stop looking anywhere for reassurance? Why after all, are people flocking in millions to the doors of the ‘spiritual leaders’ around the world? 

Of course I know, that in this lifetime, unless you are on any definitive extreme of that scale, you would endlessly fluctuate between those numbers, with new wisdom with new experiences. However, in my daily inquiries and conversations with what I believe to be my God, I know for a fact that the answer must be in the attempt. 

 

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2 thoughts on “For God’s Sake”

  1. Here’s an interesting thought by Douglas Adams

    “Early man is, like everything else, an evolved creature and he finds himself in a world that he’s begun to take a little charge of; he’s begun to be a tool-maker, a changer of his environment with the tools that he’s made and he makes tools, when he does, in order to make changes in his environment. To give an example of the way man operates compared to other animals, consider speciation, which, as we know, tends to occur when a small group of animals gets separated from the rest of the herd by some geological upheaval, population pressure, food shortage or whatever and finds itself in a new environment with maybe something different going on. Take a very simple example; maybe a bunch of animals suddenly finds itself in a place where the weather is rather colder. We know that in a few generations those genes which favour a thicker coat will have come to the fore and we’ll come and we’ll find that the animals have now got thicker coats. Early man, who’s a tool maker, doesn’t have to do this: he can inhabit an extraordinarily wide range of habitats on earth, from tundra to the Gobi Desert – he even manages to live in New York for heaven’s sake – and the reason is that when he arrives in a new environment he doesn’t have to wait for several generations; if he arrives in a colder environment and sees an animal that has those genes which favour a thicker coat, he says “I’ll have it off him”. Tools have enabled us to think intentionally, to make things and to do things to create a world that fits us better. Now imagine an early man surveying his surroundings at the end of a happy day’s tool making. He looks around and he sees a world which pleases him mightily: behind him are mountains with caves in – mountains are great because you can go and hide in the caves and you are out of the rain and the bears can’t get you; in front of him there’s the forest – it’s got nuts and berries and delicious food; there’s a stream going by, which is full of water – water’s delicious to drink, you can float your boats in it and do all sorts of stuff with it; here’s cousin Ug and he’s caught a mammoth – mammoth’s are great, you can eat them, you can wear their coats, you can use their bones to create weapons to catch other mammoths. I mean this is a great world, it’s fantastic. But our early man has a moment to reflect and he thinks to himself, ‘well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in’ and then he asks himself a very treacherous question, a question which is totally meaningless and fallacious, but only comes about because of the nature of the sort of person he is, the sort of person he has evolved into and the sort of person who has thrived because he thinks this particular way. Man the maker looks at his world and says ‘So who made this then?’ Who made this? – you can see why it’s a treacherous question. Early man thinks, ‘Well, because there’s only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he’s probably male’. And so we have the idea of a god. Then, because when we make things we do it with the intention of doing something with them, early man asks himself , ‘If he made it, what did he make it for?’ Now the real trap springs, because early man is thinking, ‘This world fits me very well. Here are all these things that support me and feed me and look after me; yes, this world fits me nicely’ and he reaches the inescapable conclusion that whoever made it, made it for him.

    This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in – an interesting hole I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.

    I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.” – Douglas Adams, author, Hitchhiker’s guide to galaxy

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  2. I happened to bump into your blog and took time to read this, out of sheer curiosity. I don’t know you at all. I have seen you often and ofcourse we never had pleasant conversations nor did we make an effort to smile at each other. Just by reaading this blog, I thought It will be wonderful to just talk to you……and on second thoughts….. Let me just be a silent admirer! Cheers

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