Defining God. . .
Metaphysics has been defined quite simply as the search for truth. One way in which human beings seek to define the truths of their world, and indeed the very reason for their existence within that world, is through religion. These definitions are generally subject to cultural climate, and as such, are often temporary at best.
Regardless of religious persuasion, it can be argued that followers of all faiths tend to believe in the perfection of their Creator. I think the problem lies in how the word “perfect” is defined. Western man tends to perceive perfection as that which is unchanging, complete, or beyond the need of modification. Taken to its logical extreme, this can also be defined as stagnant, and, given the right circumstances, obsolete.
Take, for example, the vengeful, jealous and barbaric God of Abraham who demanded tribute in the form of slaughtered animals as a method of appeasement. Compare this to the parental and loving God of Jesus, whom He addresses as “Abba” or “Father”.
As the temperament of a society evolves beyond its harsh and warlike proclivities, so to, does the temperament of its Creator. It might also be pointed out that recent times have shown the exact opposite to be true – recall George Bush Senior’s statement during a press conference that we were “doing God’s work” during the first Gulf War, and the innumerable “God Hates (fill in the blank)” signs we’ve all seen.
Conquering nations demand a conqueror God – a God whose furious thunder manifests itself in the burning cities and blackening corpses of their enemies. A people enslaved require a God in whom they can find solace, and the breaking of their chains. For them, the Creator is one who will lead them out of slavery, and provide for them a new land in which they may freely worship, and live without fear of persecution. And those who are poor and tired of struggle need a compassionate God who will lay a table before them and welcome them home to a banquet in a place beyond the misery and despair of their current one.
At first glance, this might cause one to question whether it is the Creator who changes or simply the role of the Creator as prescribed for Him by His people. And if the Creator is said to be unchanging and complete, as if He were a finished statue, sculpted from a block of marble, how could either of these views be accepted as valid?
For modern man, the center of the issue seems to lie in the fact that although his knowledge must come about through information obtained either directly through his five senses, or through an immediate extension of them, he is forced to accept the existence of a Creator he can neither see, touch, taste, hear or smell. Like Dark Matter, the existence of which can only be inferred because of its apparent effects upon detectable objects around it, he must blindly accept the existence of his God for the same reasons – and for a feeling in the depths of his soul that his Creator does in fact exist. In a world that rejects the validity of feelings as proof, this can lead many a human being to ponder the existence of their Creator as He or She exists within the scope of the definition with which they have been provided by the authorities of their religion.
We have, at the heart of our society, an apparent necessity to objectify (i.e. name) everything. We are a scientific and commercial people, who believe that if we can name something, we can own it. If we own it, we can apply it somehow. And if an application for an item exists, then certainly a potential market must exist for that item as well. Here, we are not so much concerned with the process that creates the product, as we are the finished product itself. We like neat packages, securely boxed and tied with the ribbon of measurability.
But how can we attempt to hold an immeasurable entity which we believe to be the source of all that is to those same empirical standards? Is it possible, after all, to submit the Creator to the rigors of experimentation as prescribed by the scientific method and, after carefully analyzing the results of said experiments, pull together those results and submit them as undisputable fact? I think not.
If man and everything with which he shares the whole of creation is constantly moving from a simple towards a more complex state of existence (and certainly everything from fossil records to the fact that you, yourself evolved from a single cell into a human being capable of reading and understanding this blog will prove that), and if everything in creation is an expression of the Creator’s will, might not one also infer that the Creator Himself is evolving; unfolding, as it were in an ever expanding pattern of increasing complexity?
“In the beginning was the Word,” the Bible tells us. Might not the Creator, in this perfect evolutionary process, be moving beyond the boundaries of the basic Word of creation into the realm of more complex evolutionary metaphors? And if so, then by extension, isn’t everything in the Universe, known and unknown, merely a reflection of this?
In Corinthians, we read, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child… When I became a man, I put childish things behind me.” Complex beings communicate their ideas in complex terms. Simple beings prefer simple terms. Perhaps it is not the terms we use to define our Creator that are evolving. Perhaps instead, it is the Creator who is evolving, and all that exists, being no more than metaphor within the language of the Creator, must continue to do so itself in order to keep up with the ever growing complexity of that Creator. . .